Responding to Inquiries About Personnel

Aside from the types of inquiry messages that we have already discussed, companies receive inquiries from other firms, from other divisions within a firm, outside organizations and other organizations about personnel or credit issues. As a Spanish translator in Houston explains, plan for answering such inquiries is identical to that for questions about services or products:

Begin by identifying the topic and stating the main point, then provide supporting information.  When replying about past or present employees, you have additional responsibilities. They include: (I) being fair to both employee and inquirer by providing a frank performance report, and (2) providing the information in “good faith.” For additional information regarding what you can and cannot do in a personnel report, consult a lawyer or visit your local legal library.

The following memo supplied by a Washington D.C. Translation company is Susan Harris’s reply to Michael Brady’s inquiry about Jacob Davis, a candidate for promotion to the company’s San Francisco office. Note that Harris’s appraisal is specific. Rather than simply saying that Davis is intelligent and highly motivated, she shows this with specific examples. Note also that she is fair and honest in her evaluation of Michael’s flaws, subordinating them to his positive traits, which, she believes, outweigh the negative ones. Harris’s evaluation contains several items essential in personnel reports. She notes the length of time she has known Davis, and the type and quality of his work. She answers all direct and implied questions concerning his suitability as sales director.

Michael Brady is an intelligent, highly motivated salesperson. During his six years in our Northeast office, he has reversed declining sales trends with three major accounts, opened and serviced six accounts totaling over one million dollars yearly, developed merchandising surveys for prospective accounts, and created and implemented sales proposals in conjunction with the General Manager and Director of Sales. For the past three years, he has been our top salesperson.

Our clients are pleased with Michael’s work, often mentioning his warmth and reliability. At least four times that I know of, when stock couldn’t be delivered by the promised date, Michael has loaded his own car and trailer and driven all night to get the merchandise to clients on time for a sale.

Michael’s motivation has led to some problems in the office. Because of his competitiveness, Michael has little patience with less competent sales people, and will, at times, make disparaging remarks about them to the office staff. And his constant striving to meet his clients’ needs has led to some heated arguments with the shipping department when merchandise isn’t delivered on time.

Overall, however, he is the best salesperson I’ve seen in my 18 years with the company. Would he be a good sales director for the west coast? I believe so. His ambition and motivation would certainly help west coast sales, and his belief that clients deserve full support will impress our clients there as it has here. Because Michael has no patience with incompetence or half-hearted efforts, he would quickly weed out mediocre staff, only keeping people who demand as much of themselves as he does of himself. With some guidance from you on interpersonal relations, he could possibly become our most effective sales director.

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