If you’re like most people, you probably dread having to email your boss about a problem. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
With some guidance, you can frame the conversation in a helpful and positive way.
According to several professionals, the following are the best ways to email your boss about a problem at work, along with a few examples.
Abdulaziz M. Alhamdan, M.Sc.
Leadership Coach and Podcast Host, Story Bonding
Learn to “sandwich” the problem and take advantage of psychological biases
The issue with communicating to your boss about a problem is what is called “Psychology Anchoring.”
When you trigger an emotion in someone, they associate it with you. So if the problem triggers a negative emotion in your boss, and he associates that negative emotion with you, this won’t be good for your career and your prospects of promotion.
To avoid this, we have to place the problem within our emails where it is least triggering to the receiver:
Use the first impression bias
Humans pay more attention to the first bit of information we receive than what we hear in the middle of a message.
Therefore, begin the email with something positive.
The best opening lines focus on a trait your boss has that will make it possible to solve the problem you will communicate, so the boss feels validated and sees the problem as a challenge rather than as bad news.
- “I have learned a lot from you about using logic and analytical skills to solve problems.”
- “I have always been inspired by your persistence when facing a challenging task.”
- “I was thinking today that the story of your grandfather immigrating with nothing and then building his life from scratch is a real example of turning difficulties into something better than before.”
In the middle of the email, mention the problem
Do not be apologetic or try to explain it away, as that adds more emotional charge to the issue and brings attention to this part. Just say things in the most objective way possible.
- “Our clients have recently rated our customer service below industry standards.”
- “Our best salesperson has resigned, and our sales team performance has dropped soon after.”
- “Our main client informed us they will delay their upcoming invoice payment for 90 days.”
End it with something motivating
The Recency Bias states that “what we hear last stays on our minds for a while, so you cannot end on a bad note.”
And, in many ways, view yourself as a coach to everyone around you, even your boss. That is the true meaning of leadership. So end up by inspiring that shows you are both on the same team, ready to tackle this problem.
- “We have faced difficulties before, and just like before, we are ready to tackle them head-on.”
- “This is why our clients pay us, to solve problems. And that is what we will do now as a team.”
In summary, we have the power to control how people perceive and receive the information we share.
It all comes down to the frame we use to show reality.
And “sandwiching” is one of the best ways to frame bad news in a way that reduces its negative impact on the receiver and our relationships with them.
- Begin with a positive observation of the receiver
- Deliver bad news in a neutral manner
- End with a hopeful, positive expectation
Editor in Chief, Decline Magazine
Determine why you’re sending the email
Determine why you’re calling your supervisor before you write your email. This can help you stay on track while writing your email and ensure that all pertinent information is included.
If you want to seek a project deadline adjustment, for example, give the old deadline, the new proposed deadline, and the rationale for the change.
Include a relevant subject line
Your email’s subject line should convey the reason for your communication in a few words. Sending an email with a relevant subject line makes it easier for your supervisor to find the email, understand what to expect, and prioritize it based on priority and urgency.
Add a greeting
The greeting appears directly below the subject line of your email. Determine the preferred name and title for your supervisor and include it in the email greeting.
If your boss wants to be addressed by their first name, for example, you can address them as such. You can use your supervisor’s last name if you’re not sure what name and title they prefer.
Explain why you’re sending the email
Include an opening line after your greeting that says why you’re emailing. The email will be succinct and clear if you begin by describing your argument.
Explain the situation
If possible, give specifics or an explanation for why you’re emailing. Although you can exclude any irrelevant or personal details, it may be good to include an explanation so that your supervisor understands the context of a situation.
Make a list of the tasks you’d like your boss to perform
After you’ve explained everything, make sure to include any chores you’d like your supervisor to conduct after reading your email. This could involve things like accepting a project proposal or a deadline adjustment, checking your time off benefits, or making a project choice.
Finish with a strong statement
The concluding line of your email is where you might express gratitude for your supervisor’s time, reiterate essential information, or welcome them to ask any questions about the substance of your email.
Sign the document
Include your entire name and job title in your signature so that your boss can recognize you.
Keep the email short and sweet
Keep your email’s content succinct, containing only the most important elements and removing any extraneous material. Use short, clear sentences to explain your point so that your boss understands the purpose of your email fast.
Use your company’s email address
To stay professional and guarantee that your supervisor receives your email in a timely manner, email your supervisor using your work email. Emails from a person’s personal email account are sometimes filtered out at work.
Make sure it’s simple to comprehend
Because supervisors receive a variety of emails throughout the day, make sure yours is simple to grasp in case they need to scan or read it fast. You can have a trustworthy colleague read it through to see how easy it is for them to comprehend.
Proofread your email before sending
Make sure to proofread your email before sending it to catch any spelling problems, grammatical errors, or formatting issues. Sending an error-free email to your supervisor demonstrates professionalism and guarantees that your message gets understood.
Here are a few examples:
Request for time off
“Request for time off from [date] to [date] in the subject line
Please accept my heartfelt greetings, [Supervisor’s name].
I’m sending you an email today to seek a vacation from [date] to [date]. I have [done an activity to prepare for time off]. Please contact me if you have any questions about my vacation. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
[Insert your name and job title here].”
Request for a deadline extension
“[Project name] in the subject line Request to change the deadline from [date] to [date].
Please accept my heartfelt greetings, [Supervisor’s name].
I’m sending this email to request a deadline extension for [project name] from [date] to [date]. This adjustment is required to ensure that my team has enough time to perform [task] and [task]. I am optimistic that we will be able to complete the project before the deadline. Please have a look at the [description of information] that is attached.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email, and please contact me if you have any questions.
[Insert your name and job title here].“
Writing an email to your boss about a problem you have encountered in the workplace can prove to be an awkward situation. Being perceived as a complainer can leave you feeling vulnerable and a target for bullying from other staff.
However, there are times when speaking up is the best option to increase productivity and resolve conflicts.
Here are some tips on how to write an effective email to your boss:
Wait until you have calmed down before drafting your email
If you are highly emotional, you might want to wait until you have calmed down before drafting your email. This is especially important if the problem you face is direct with your boss.
Being rude will likely cause more damage than good, and as the saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Use a respectful tone when writing this type of email.
Explain your problem clearly
The more detail you provide about the issue you are facing, the easier it will be for your boss to understand precisely what is troubling you. Being vague will most likely result in your email being ignored simply because you have not painted a clear enough picture.
On the other hand, repeatedly mentioning the problem until you have written a 3,000-word email isn’t ideal either.
Your explanation should be thorough but not tiresome to read.
Suggest a solution and the positive outcomes it would have
Your boss may not have a solution for the problem you are facing. For example, if it is a highly technical issue, resolving it may require the assistance of a manager who has the appropriate level of experience.
Therefore, it would be in your best interest to propose a solution to the problem, mentioning a specific course of action that can be taken.
If possible, don’t directly blame specific people
The last thing you want to do is have someone hold a grudge against you for the next few years because you chose to complain about them.
If there is an issue you are facing with a specific person, don’t blame them directly; instead, as per the paragraph above, propose a solution on how the two of you can work together to resolve the issue.
I hope you are well.
I am writing this email to bring to your attention an issue I have been facing while building the company’s new web user interface. As you know, the existing code isn’t well documented, and there are only a few members of the development team who have a firm understanding of how it functions.
Over the last few days, I have contacted specific people for assistance. Still, the outcome has been the same — they are either (understandably) too busy to respond, or their responses lack sufficient detail for me to complete the task at hand efficiently.
With the tight deadlines that need to be met, this is causing a large amount of stress on my part.
As a solution, I would like to suggest a bi-weekly stand-up meeting for senior and junior developers at the beginning of each day. This will allow me and other new team members (facing similar issues) to ask questions and receive appropriate feedback.
I believe this will lead to a significant increase in productivity across the entire team.
Maria A. McDowell
Email is one of the most effective ways to communicate any perceived problem in every workplace, especially when you can’t meet or have an in-person discussion with your boss.
Emails enable you to articulate your thoughts and also show proof of communication.
There are some important guidelines to adhere to when writing an email to your boss about an identified problem.
Be professional in your salutation
When writing to your boss about a problem, no matter the relationship you share with them, ensure to be professional, especially in your salutation.
Use “Hi, Hello, or Dear” followed by your boss’s professional title and first name. For example, “Hi Dr. Maria” or “Dear Prof. James.” Avoid using informal greetings like “Hey” or “Yo” when writing to your boss.
Use a clear and direct subject line
The subject of your email should be clear and direct to get the attention of your boss. Do not write a lengthy subject line that doesn’t directly relate to the identified problem you want to talk about. Your email subject should be concise and direct.
Clearly and concisely state the problem
Go straight to the point and state the identified problem. If possible, try to capture the issue and its effect on you or the organization in a paragraph.
Suggest a solution
After outlining the problem, it is best to suggest a solution. Suggesting a solution to an identified problem makes you a resourceful employee.
Your closing email should contain important information
Your closing is an integral part of the email. Your email closing should contain any other important information you find necessary, appreciation, and a call to action.
Example 1: Email to a boss about a product-related problem
“Hi Dr. Maria,
Subject: Customer complaints about XYZ product.
Over the last few days, there have been increased customer complaints about product xyz. After careful analysis of customers complaints, I realized that product xyz quality doesn’t meet the expectations of our customers which has led to increased complaints and bad reviews.
The poor reviews of product xyz is affecting other products on our platform. I suggest that we take down product xyz and improve on it before uploading it again. I also think it will be ideal to email all our customers and apologize about their experience and inform them of the steps we have taken to improve on product xyz.
Thank you for your time. Let me know if you have any questions or clarification concerning this email.
Example 2: Email to a boss about a work-related problem.
“Dear Mr. Joseph.
Subject: Poor website security.
In the last two months, the company’s website has been under consistent cyber-attack, which has affected its ability to function effectively. After carefully analyzation, I realized that the hosting company we use for the website has poor security measures.
I have attached a list of better hosting companies and their rates to this email. I suggest we switch out hosting service to a better hosting company with enhanced security measures to protect our website from hackers.
Kindly look through the listed hosting companies and let me know your thoughts and how to proceed.
Emails are a powerful tool in the workplace. They can be used to communicate a problem, ask for a favor, or offer feedback. When writing an email to your boss, it’s important to be concise and direct.
Here are three tips for writing an email that will get your message across.
Use simple language
When writing to a boss, it’s also important to use simple language. Avoid using complex grammar or vocabulary when possible — this can be confusing and make it difficult for the boss to understand what you are saying. Try to stick with terms that are common knowledge among most people.
In short — when writing an email to your boss about a problem, try to be concise and use simple language — this will help the boss understand what you are trying to say more easily.
Explain the cause of the problem
Use this example to explain the cause of the problem. It’s the most affected one.
I hope you are well. I wanted to reach out and let you know about a problem that we are experiencing at work. It seems as though there is something causing a lot of our emails not to send, and we are not sure what it is.
We have tried restarting our email servers, clearing our spam filters, and changing our settings in Outlook, but nothing seems to be working. We have also contacted our ISP, and they said that there is nothing wrong with the network or their servers.
The cause of the problem is still a mystery to us, but I wanted to let you know so that you can start taking precautions in case it happens again. In the meantime, please bear with us as we work to get this fixed as soon as possible.
Thank you for your time and continued support!”
Offer solutions if you can
When something goes wrong at work, it can be tempting just to let it simmer and stew. But if you want to keep your career on track and build a good relationship with your boss, it’s important to offer solutions instead of just complaining.
First, take a deep breath and remember that you’re not the only one who’s been affected by this issue. Your boss is probably feeling frustrated, too.
So start by expressing your concerns and laying out what went wrong. This will help them understand the situation and give them a chance to brainstorm possible solutions.
If you don’t have any solutions yourself, don’t be shy about asking for help from your boss or other employees in the office. The more people who are involved in finding a solution, the better off everyone will be.
And don’t forget to stay positive — conveying frustration only makes things worse.
Director of Media Relations, Caspian Studios
Use a professional greeting
“Dear,” “Hello,” or “Hi,” followed by your recipient is some professional salutations you can use to welcome your boss (boss, superior, or supervisor).
You can also use their first name if you’re on a first-name basis. Otherwise, use a formal address such as “Professor Kegley,” “Dr. Goldstein,” or “Mr. Mark.” Then, after your recipient’s name, add a comma.
Use full names for your supervisor instead of salutations like “Hey,” “Hiya,” or “Yo,” which sound unprofessional.
Use a specific and concise subject line
Your supervisor is most likely a busy individual who receives several emails from various departments, clients, and business partners. Save them time and effort by making the purpose of your email crystal apparent in the subject line.
Always double-check that the content of your email corresponds to the subject line.
“Problems with the Gizmo Software”
Make sure to state the problem clearly and directly
As previously stated, your employer is most likely overworked and overburdened. As a result, you must go right to the point by explaining the issue plainly and concisely.
- You don’t need to go into great depth; simply offer a general outline of the issue.
- You can briefly describe the issue and how it affects you or the company.
- If you have one in mind, you can also provide a solution in the email.
- “For the past two days, I’ve been having severe problems with the graphics design software, and it’s definitely affecting my productivity for the day. I’ve upgraded both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, but I’m still having the same issue. As a result, I’m contacting you to see if you can offer any aid.”
- “Nearly every day, our clients have complained about our Facebook and Instagram pages falling down. The social media team is getting agitated since they don’t know how to fix the problem.”
Suggest a solution if you have one
You can propose a solution when you bring a problem to your boss’s attention. Keep in mind that your boss is busy and will appreciate it if you can find a solution.
If you’ve already tried to tackle the problem, but your solution didn’t work, tell your manager what you did. By doing so, you are demonstrating to your manager that you are a problem solver who considers solutions rather than issues.
“I checked into the graphics design problem, and it appears to be caused by the software no longer supporting my laptop’s version. I’m currently updating my laptop to the most recent version. Then I’ll reinstall the software and give it another shot. Hopefully, that will be enough.”
You can propose alternate solutions if your worries are likely to cost your boss money and damage their reputation.
HR Executive, The Pest Control
Think about how you’ll explain the situation so that your boss will understand it
Have you run into a problem at work? Then it’s probably time to email your boss about it! No matter what, though, you need to make sure that you do it the right way.
But first, try to solve the problem on your own. If that doesn’t work, talk to a coworker or supervisor about it.
Next, prepare yourself for the conversation by thinking about why you think the problem exists and how you can address it.
If you’re feeling confident in your ability to solve the problem on your own, you can go directly to the boss and ask for help. But before you do that, think about how you’ll explain the situation so that your boss will understand it.
I’ll give you some tips on how to write an email to your boss about a problem.
Address your boss by their name
When you write an email to your boss, make sure you address them by name. This is important because it makes your boss feel as though they are being personally addressed.
State the problem clearly and concisely
You must state your problem as clearly as possible. Be sure to include any relevant information that might help your boss understand why the problem exists.
To make sure you do this, you should read over the email and make sure it is easy for your boss to understand what’s going on.
“I have been having serious issues with the management software that we are using. We have been having problems with it since the beginning of this month, but your IT department has been unable to solve them. I am looking for a way to move forward with this issue, and I would like to meet with you in person so that we can discuss our options.”
Explain what you have done to try to solve the problem
Give a brief outline of what you have done to try to solve the problem. Include all possible options that you’ve tried and explain why each option didn’t work.
“I have tried contacting the support team, but they have not responded to our requests. I have also tried to call their hotline, but it is always busy.”
Suggest a solution or ask for help in solving the problem
If you really can’t come up with an answer, then ask your boss for help. This can be as easy as asking if they have any ideas or suggestions. If you don’t know what to do, then ask them for some advice.
“I’m not sure what to do, so I was wondering if you had any suggestions.”
Thank them for their time and consideration
Once you’ve explained your problem and given them your suggestions, thank them for their time and consideration.
“Your time and suggestion are greatly appreciated.”
CEO and Founder, Bullseye Locations
Use a personalized tone in your email
I personally like to see a personalized tone in the emails that my workers send me. I recommend that the style workers use in their emails should depend on their relationship with their boss but must also have a gist of formality.
Choosing the tone that lands best with your boss is essential as it helps them comprehend the email well. They will be able to read the email in your tone and understand your intentions better.
It is also always good to sign off your email with “Thank you” as it reflects your politeness and respect for your boss.
Choosing a tone can be very tricky, but as long as it is both professional and personal, you are good to go!
The email should be very brief and to the point
It is important that the emails have short paragraphs, each covering a different point. This makes it easy for bosses to follow you and understand your problems.
Bosses are always on tight schedules, and sending long emails will waste their time. They may not want to continue reading it if you trail off from the topic in the middle.
Therefore, keeping things simple and adding extra details that don’t contribute to the subject matter should be avoided.
For example, if you are writing to your boss about workplace discrimination, include all of the details that a boss needs to know in order to take appropriate action, as well as your intentions and expectations.
The email shouldn’t have any threats to the boss or to the person that has committed the act of disgrace, as this will make the email very unprofessional.
Don’t use the subject line of the email as clickbait
When writing me an email, most of my employees use the subject line as clickbait to get my attention right away. This is very unprofessional, and your boss may never choose to respond to you.
Doing stuff like this shows a lack of integrity in the individual, and you will never make it into your boss’s good books.
Another subject line error is using caps lock, i.e., ‘URGENT,’ which again is to grab the boss’s attention but portrays very unprofessional behavior.
If the matter really is urgent, contact your boss via phone call or schedule a meeting to discuss it instead of writing an email with a subject line, which sounds imperious.
CEO and Co-Founder, Qooper Mentoring & Learning Software
When you have a problem at work, the best way to handle it is to talk to your boss about it. But how do you write an email to your boss about a problem?
Start by describing the problem
Be specific and concise, and include any relevant details. Talk about how the issue impacts your work and why you think it needs to be addressed.
Explain what you’ve done to try to solve the problem on your own
If you’ve tried multiple solutions, list them in order of how successful you think they were. This will show that you’ve taken the initiative and care about solving the problem.
Suggest a plan of action on how to solve the problem
Finally, suggest a plan of action for how you and your boss can work together to solve the problem. Be specific about what you need from your boss and what you’re willing to do to help solve the problem.
Make sure your tone is respectful and humble
Avoid speaking negatively about your boss or co-workers, even if they are part of the problem. Instead, focus on solving the issue at hand.
This shows your boss that you’re mature and professional and that you’re more interested in solving the problem than in placing blame.
Here is a template you can use:
I wanted to bring to your attention a problem I’ve been having at work. It’s been impacting my work because. I’ve tried a few solutions on my own, including and _____, but so far, nothing has worked.
I think it would be helpful if we could brainstorm a solution together. My suggestion is _____. I’m open to other ideas as well, but I believe this is a good place to start.
Do you have any time in the next few days where we could talk about this? Thank you for your time and consideration.
It is important to know what type of concern exists
As a general rule, formal letters should be written in formal letter format and sent via email. You should send a copy of the communication to your home email address, depending on how sensitive the issue is.
Computers at your workplace are company property, and they have the right to lock you out at any time.
Consider being professional, not singling out anyone unless it is absolutely necessary, and keeping all emotions out of the correspondence. Additionally, think of possible solutions to the problems you are facing. Having solutions demonstrates initiative, dedication, and thoughtfulness.
Since I am not aware of what the “concerns” are, it is difficult to give specific advice.
“Dear Mr. Johnson,
Subject Line: Salary Dissatisfaction
During the past four and a half years, I have worked as a security engineer at Spark electronics. I would like to raise the issue of my salary at the company based on my performance so far.
In spite of having the same qualification and degree as my colleagues, I continue to be the lowest-paid employee. In light of my experience in the last four years and my contribution to the company’s growth and development [list some achievements and contributions to the company], I feel that I am at a disadvantage in this position.
My performance has always been praised by customers and colleagues alike, and I’ve never needed disciplinary action. In addition, I sometimes work on weekends and after hours, so I believe I deserve a raise.
Could you please review this and arrange a meeting with me soon to discuss this matter? I look forward to hearing from you.
Leader and Recruiter, USScrapYard
Check to see that the content of your email corresponds to the subject line
There are a few essential pointers you need to keep in mind whenever you are communicating with your manager via email regarding an issue.
In business settings, sending and receiving emails continues to be one of the most efficient forms of communication.
Your manager is most likely a very busy individual who receives a large number of emails from colleagues in different departments, customers, and business partners.
You may save them time and effort by making the subject line of your email incredibly clear as to the purpose of the message. Always check to see that the content of your email corresponds to the subject line.
As it was mentioned previously, it’s likely that your employer is quite active and juggling a wide variety of responsibilities at the same time.
Therefore, you need to get right down to business by articulating the issue in a straightforward and uncomplicated manner. You don’t need to go into too much detail; instead, just provide an overarching description of the issue that you are facing.
You might give a concise explanation of the issue and how it is affecting the organization or you personally. You can also provide a solution to the problem in the email if you already have one in your head.
Subject: Electricity issue during job hours
As the [post] at [company name], I have heard several complaints from our staff members, particularly from our female employees, about the electricity issue during working hours.
Because of this, there have been some severe issues with the company’s productivity, which is especially problematic around this time of year when it is getting workload increases before the business closes this year.
For your convenience, a copy of the official complaint, as well as the suggestions made by the organization’s planning committee, have been attached to this email.
I reached out to the electrician to inquire about the possibility of arranging electricity when the consumption of electricity is necessary on a part-time solution basis, as well as ways in which we may improve our electricity system during office hours.
Before we continue with the process, I would like to talk about it with you when your schedule is less hectic, if that is okay.
I appreciate you taking the time.
CEO and Founder, Palaleather
Begin the email by informing who you are
Emailing your boss may be a daunting thing to do. However, most bosses appreciate emails, especially when they are necessary for the health and growth of the company. Emails about real problems, whether about the processes or the employees are welcome.
Begin the email by informing who you are and from what department or team you are from. Proceed with the details of the problem and all the relevant background and context that can help your boss grasp the issue at hand.
Then, present your proposed solution. Be clear and concise in your writing, and avoid going off on tangents. If you have any supporting information or documentation, include that as well.
End the email by thanking your boss for their time and saying that you’re looking forward to hearing their thoughts on the matter.
Here’s an example:
“Hi [name of boss],
This is [name], from [department].
I would just like to raise a concern regarding [issue]. To give you some context, [add a date, date range, who else is involved, what happened prior, what actions were previously taken].
This has caused [mention the effects of the problem]. I would like to inform you and ask for your thoughts on this matter. Attached in this document are supporting information about the [issue].
Here are several things in my mind that may help with the situation [offer your proposed solutions].”
Head of Customer Success, nimble made
Understand your boss’ communication style
When you’re writing about a problem to your boss, you should first understand what style of communicator your boss is. If they prefer to talk out problems in person, then sending a detailed email is just going to waste everyone’s time.
If your boss is someone who likes having all the details in front of them before you can discuss a solution, they’re going to be very annoyed if you keep asking them to set up meetings to discuss problems.
Once you know their style, it’s easy to craft an email that is clear and concise but efficient.
For example, you should include, at the very least, a summary of the nature of the problem, how you’ve attempted to resolve the issue, and the next steps. I’ve attached an example below.
I was working on [Context of problem] when I encountered [Nature of problem]. So far, I’ve attempted to resolve it through [Steps taken to solve problem].
If you’ve solved it: I managed to resolve the issue, but I wanted to let you know the situation of what happened. Let me know if there are any other details you’d like me to provide or anything you’d like to discuss.
If you need additional help: I’ve tried to resolve it, but I’m hitting a wall. Do you have any suggestions for the next steps? I can also set up a meeting if you’d like to discuss it live.
CEO and Owner, Very Informed
How you write an email to your boss can depend on your relationship with them as well as the purpose of the email. If it is a formal request or you are asking for something, it is best to be polite and courteous.
Start the email with a greeting
Start the email with a greeting, such as “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Good morning.” State the purpose of the email right away so that your boss knows what they are reading about.
For example, “I am writing to request permission to work from home on Fridays.” Be clear and concise in your ask, and explain why this would be beneficial for you and your work.
Thank your boss in advance for their time
Thank them in advance for their time, and sign off with your name. If you have a good relationship with your boss and the email is more casual in nature, you can forgo the formalities.
One of the most difficult things to do in the workplace is to email your boss about a problem. Whether it’s an issue with a project, a colleague, or something else entirely, it’s hard to know how to broach the subject without seeming like you’re complaining.
The good news is that there are some strategies you can use to make sure your email is well-received and gets the results you’re looking for.
- First, make sure you have a clear idea of what the problem is and what you’d like your boss to do about it. It’s important to be specific so that your boss can understand the issue and take action if necessary.
- Next, take some time to think about how your boss might react to the email. It’s important to be respectful and professional, even if you’re feeling frustrated.
- Finally, consider cc’ing other relevant colleagues on the email. This can help to show that the problem isn’t just isolated to you and that others are also affected by it.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to write an email to your boss about a problem that is both effective and professional.
CEO and Founder, milepro
Always be solution-focused
Even though you’re talking about a problem, which is something negative, always frame the email in a way that shows that you want to find a solution.
This way, you turn it into a team effort — i.e., let’s figure something out together — rather than just venting your frustrations.
Try to schedule an in-person or video call meeting
Complex problems require in-person communication because you can’t communicate the nuances of a difficult issue via email. In fact, it can often make it worse because it’s so easy to misread or misinterpret the tone of a message when it’s written down.
Instead, if you see the person, it’s easier to understand the tone and emotion that the person is trying to express about the problem.
So use the email as a way to describe the problem briefly and then end it by asking if you could schedule a quick 20-minute meeting to talk about it.
“Hi X, I’m emailing you about a concern I have regarding ABC. I was hoping to get your advice on how to solve this problem because [insert how the problem is bothering you], and I realize that I need someone’s insight to resolve it.
Do you have time on Friday at 2 pm for a quick meeting to talk about it? Let me know!”
Senior Editor, Tandem
As an office professional with 25+ years of work experience, I have needed to write emails to my supervisors about problems. Every situation is different, which means every situation will necessitate a different response.
Here are some ways you can politely and professionally write an email to your boss about a problem.
Don’t be accusatory
One of the first things you will want to remember when reaching out to your boss is to try not to be accusatory.
Though your boss needs to know about an issue that is happening, you want your boss to know that you are level-headed and trying to see things from various aspects.
Do include details
Though you might think that your boss is already aware of the situation, this may not be the case. Also, if someone were to read your email in the future, it needs to make sense to them. And remember — your email may become part of your employee file.
For these reasons, you’ll want to ensure that you include as many details as possible.
Don’t merely complain
If you send an email that simply is you complaining about a situation, you might come across as either whiny or immature. Keep your emotions in check. In the email, do your best to be factual without sounding as if you are a petulant child.
Do be professional
No matter what the email talks about, it’s integral that you remain professional throughout. Use common courtesies, such as please and thank you, and refrain from being condescending.
When you are ready to email your boss about a problem, you must not react without thinking. Before sending the email, think about how large a problem it is.
Is this something you can handle by discussing the situation directly with the person who has caused the problem? Or have you already tried talking to someone to no avail?
Once you determine that an email is necessary, follow the advice above, and, more likely than not, your boss will respect you for it.
Clinical Director, ChoicePoint
Tell your problem to your boss in a formal manner
Being humans means that at some point, there will come a time when you will require to take some time from your work. Employees are often scared to talk directly to their boss when it comes to conveying that they have a problem.
Here is how to write an email to your boss about your problem:
Start with a greeting
An email should begin professionally with small greetings ad shouldn’t look like you just forgot your manner while a problem arises in your life.
Promise that your work will not be affected
Begin by telling your boss about your current progress and any small achievement you got that month/week. Then promise that while you are away, your work will not be affected. Give a few solid reasons.
State the problem in a very straightforward way
Tell your problem to your boss in a manner that is formal. No need t get into tiny details. Get straight to the point.
I hope this email finds you well. In the month of May, I completed my KPIs and moved on to the new task. I have submitted my previous work also.
With due respect, I need to state that I am facing some problems and need some time off. My progress will not be affected as I am willing to check my emails from home and give extra hours.
I am hoping to hear a positive reply.”
Kristin Heller, PHR
Leadership Coach and HR Consultant, HR Creative Consulting
Reporting a problem is best done in person
When it comes to giving your boss bad news, it is best done in person. As methods of communication become less about conversations and more about email, I do not recommend emailing business leaders about problems.
Walk to your boss’ office and have a conversation. Go in prepared with the facts and a proposed solution. If you are stuck on the solution, ask for help. If you work remotely, call your boss.
It is too easy to “read into” an email. Readers interpret email differently. It is important that your boss fully understands the issue. Achieving understanding will be more effective with a conversation.
I think it is perfectly acceptable to follow up the conversation with an email for documentation purposes. The email should outline the problem with the proposed solution.
I do not think it is ever acceptable to email a problem as a first step in the communication of the problem. Have the conversation.
Don’t beat around the bush
In the current workplace environment that is more hectic and subtle at the same time, it is quite common and normal to face circumstances that need modification and need the involvement of the manager to resolve the matters for a smoother operation.
Some common reasons that require immediate discussion:
- Inadequate salary raise against excellent work performance
- Delayed or compromised promotion-related issue
- Operational paraphernalia that doesn’t meet the (current) demands of the organization
- Gaslighting by a leader
Knowing any problem, the most important is to highlight it without burning the edges. It is all about what you have to say and how you say it. Some suggestions are:
It is never wise to make long texts in an email that states the problem. Make it clear, concise, and direct. Consider your boss may be busy, and therefore it is wise just to share an overview of the problem without beating about the bush.
You can make it clear from the subject line and can expand the line into two or three crisp sentences. Remember, the aim of the email should be highlighting, not the fighting.
For example, you can write it as:
“Dear [boss’ name],
Subject Line: Commuting problem in [project name]
It is to bring to your attention that the staff [name the staff] related to [name the project] is facing a traveling problem since the project is far [mention the distance] and it takes time [describe the exact time] to commute them.
One solution is [discuss feasibility], but it needs your approval, and I am hopeful for prompt action.
I would request to review this matter and, if possible, arrange a meeting to discuss it in detail. If you have any additional questions in this regard, I am open to discuss. Thank you for your time, and looking forward to a positive response.
CEO, Lucky Bobbleheads
Be sure to express the situation in a direct and understandable manner
There is a good chance that your employer is occupied and juggling a number of responsibilities at the moment. Therefore, you need to get right down to business by articulating the issue in a straightforward and uncomplicated manner.
You don’t need to go into too much detail; instead, just provide an overarching description of the issue that you are facing.
You might give a concise explanation of the issue and how it is affecting the organization or you personally. You can also provide a solution to the problem in the email if you already have one in your head.
“Because we are having issues that we are unable to resolve, I had no choice but to come to you for assistance. Our technical staff has spent the better part of the past week attempting to set up an internet connection for a customer; however, they have run into problems with the outdoor internet transmitter. It is a significant distance from the address of the customer.
Could you tell us what options we have available to us?”
Vice President of Growth, AdQuick
Include actionable ideas that may provide solutions to the issue you are addressing
Reflecting upon what is making you feel stressed at work can reveal where the actual problem lies.
Whether you’re stuck on a particular project detail or you’re facing a technical challenge, taking some time to ponder the situation may bring clarity to factors that are contributing to it, what you can do to fix it, and what support and resources you’ll need for a successful outcome.
With this information, you can write an email that’s proactive rather than reactive. Be sure to include the problem as defined by fact rather than your opinion.
Offer at least two viable solutions with an analysis of the resources required for implementation, including time, data, personnel, and budget. And ensure that you will continuously measure progress and make adjustments as necessary.
Positioning yourself as a problem solver who focuses on positive results shows you are a valuable and trusted asset to the company, leaving a far better impression upon your boss when it comes time for a promotion.
Head of Growth, Yotta
Don’t divulge all of the problems in your email
Leave a lot open so that you can speak about the issue privately and in person.
Include enough in the email to get your boss’ attention. Make them want to discuss the issue with you in more detail.
What you don’t want to do is pile up too many grievances in the body of the email. You don’t want your boss thinking, “I didn’t realize (Employee X) felt this way.” It doesn’t feel good to be blindsided, and you don’t want to look unprofessional.
You want your boss to appreciate you having the courage to come forward.
Normally a grievance has to do with another individual. The subject of the email should not include that person’s name. Again, you don’t want to hit your boss over the head with the issue right away.
The subject line could include, “An issue we need to discuss” or “A disruption in the workflow.”
You can be more specific in the body of the email but not too specific. “I’m afraid performances will be affected by (Employee X’s) pattern of behavior. If you have time later this week to discuss it in more detail, let me know.”
If you have a recommended solution to the problem, it won’t hurt to notify your boss of that in your email, too.
Before emailing, you must have a record of everything
Keep track of dates, times, names, etc. Don’t forget to chronicle what happened and how it affected your work, as well as the work of those who were involved.
Most supervisors won’t care until you can explain how a perceived inefficiency negatively impacts you or someone else.
Construct a list of possible solutions. If you complain to management, they’ll ignore you. Having a solution, even a partial one, shows that you’ve considered the issue. Rough guidance will do.
If your solution requires a major process change, implement it in stages. People are more adaptable to small changes in stages than large ones.
You also have to be respectful. Be sure to be composed and not emotional. Give a straightforward account of what you found, with no exaggeration or elaboration.
In other words, don’t come out as someone who just wants to air their grievances, but as someone who is actively working to make the firm more efficient.
To be concise, instead of saying “here’s something you want to change,” offer “if you want ideas, I do have suggestions for adjustments we may make to increase our mutual efficiency” and then wait to be asked.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?