"Don't Be Shi" Coffee Shop Case 


Giving Bad News (GROUP WORK)  -- Assignment due on Tuesday, 30 March  in class


NOTE ON PURPOSE OF ASSIGNMENT:  This is an imaginative case only.  We are doing it to learn more and practice about giving bad news messages, and to practice the Inductive (Indirect) Method of Organizing a Message.






    The Letter:


Read the case below.

1)  Conduct a meeting to tell employees the bad news. 


2) Also, write a letter to your employees to document and confirm your message to them.

So, this letter is to be written after the meeting is finished.  (BUT, still use the 4-steps to a bad news message formula.) Even though they heard the oral message from you already in the meeting. [Remember, our purpose in this assignment.]


DO NOT INCLUDE LOCAL SAUDI LABOR LAW INTO YOUR THINKING.  All the employees here are Saudi.    They all speak and understand English very well.  That is one of the reasons you hired them.


Do not be concerned about the format of your writing.  You have not learned about writing letters or memos yet.  What is needed for this assignment is the CONTENT of the letter.  All the necessary information should be included to inform your employees and you must FOLLOW the 4 STEPS of the BAD NEWS process of Communicating. 

v   HOWEVER, remember that you must use HEADINGS & HIGHLIGHTING in this letter.


NOTE:  You will also be responsible for conducting a meeting about this case.  So, remember,

1) the tone and style of the writing will not be the same as the tone and style of what you say in the meeting.


2) the information communicated from the case in both writing and speaking, though, will be the same.


3) yes, the manager can have a few short notes or an outline to help him in the meeting (but NO READING WORD BY WORD from a paper or directly from the letter !!!).










THE CASE:  Don’t Be Shi.


Five years ago you opened a coffee shop called “Don’t Be Shi”. 


You began with 8 employees and had a lot of profits.  As the business grew, you added 6 more employees.


Then . . . last year sales started to drop lower and lower because of the bad economy slowdown.  There is also now a lack of jobs in the market everywhere in every business these days.


However, you did not fire (terminate) anyone.  But, sales dropped even more.  So, you fired 4 more employees.


You want to keep fulltime employees on a long-term basis for now on. 


But, you estimate that sales next year will be down about 20% more.  You and your partners agree that labor costs are much too high.  You all agree to cut labor costs, instead of firing more people this year. 


So, the three of you decide to

(1) cancel company-paid health insurance,

(2) cancel paid vacations – employees can take vacations, but will not be paid,

(3) employees must pay half of their retirement plans. 


These cuts are the only way to cut enough of the costs,  so the employees can stay working fulltime and you will not have to fire more again, which you do not want to do anymore.


You do not know how long the Don’t Be Shi coffee shop will have to keep these cuts, but it will not be forever, you think.  When the economy gets better, you will return all benefits to normal, as before.


You set an appointment with employees to have a meeting to tell them about the cuts in benefits. 


You only tell them that there is an important meeting set for tomorrow before the coffee shop opens.  They do not know exactly the subject of the meeting, because you did not tell them.  However, you could not prevent yourself from showing your feelings non-verbally which tells them that something is wrong. 


The employees start to get a little nervous and wonder what the meeting is all about. 


Everyone, including you, is getting ready for the 5-minute meeting that is scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning before the coffee shop opens for business.


Remember . . . You are to (1) conduct the meeting, and (2) follow up by writing a letter to all employees about the Bad News meeting and what happened in the meeting, following the 4-step process of communicating Bad News.  And, use all the information from this page to help your group.