How to Reject a Recommendation Letter Request

If you work as a manager, then you definitely know how it feels whenever exiting employees ask you for a recommendation letter. If the employee was a top performer, then you have no problems writing up a good recommendation. But what if the departing employee has a record of poor performance? What should you do then? Can you decline that person’s request?

You absolutely can, and here is how you can turn down an employee’s recommendation letter request in a polite, effective manner.

What you should say when you cannot provide a good review

How do you deal with a situation where an employee you barely know is asking you for a recommendation? Well, one of the best things that you can possibly say is, “I wish I could help you, but I believe that we have not worked closely enough for me to write the recommendation letter that you deserve.” This softens the blow as you are rejecting the employee in a nice way and, at the same time, you are making an honest response.

Now, the next kind of awful situation you could find yourself in is when you are asked to write a recommendation letter for an employee with a history of poor performance. You would not want to recommend a bad employee to anyone as it will reflect poorly on  you, and this is especially true if you have little to nothing positive to say about the employee.

So, here are a couple of options that you should consider when you face this kind of situation:

  • Tell the employee politely that your company restricts you from handing out recommendation letters to any employee. State that you cannot do so because of the responsibilities that come with it.
  • You can state that, as a personal policy, you refuse to provide recommendation letters to any employee. While this might earn you a bit of resentment, it is still better than facing any other kind of negative consequence.

 How to respond to recommendation letter request that you do not wish to provide

If you really feel uncomfortable providing any employee with a recommendation letter, then here are different methods that you can use to reject any requests that come your way:

  • If you are close to the employee but you do not have much knowledge about his or her performance, then all you have to do is have a chat with him or her and explain why you cannot hand out the recommendation letter. You can explain that providing a recommendation letter without accurate knowledge of the person will just end up with negative consequences for both the employee and the Human Resources or hiring manager.
  • In the event that you do not feel like handing out a recommendation letter to an employee who has been underperforming during his or her time in your company, all you have to do is politely explain that you cannot provide an employee recommendation letter due to the fact that the employee has not done enough to earn the recommendation request, and that you would not want to make the employee look bad to his or her new employer.
  • If you feel like you are a manager who does not deserve to hand out a recommendation letter to an exiting employee, then all you have to do is tell the employee that it is better that he or she makes the request from another person who has worked closely with him or her. While this may seem like you are avoiding the responsibility, it is best that you hand it over to someone else who has more information about the employee rather than you doing it and not knowing what you should write down.

If you would like to read a guide on creating recommendation letters, click on the link now.

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