A letter of approval can take two forms or can be written from two positions. The first is as the requesting personnel. The second is as the approving personnel. This article looks at fundamental principles of handling a letter of approval from an approving personnel point of view and offers samples to help you handle approvals properly.
The need to write a letter of approval is bound to arise as a project leader, manager or business owner. When tasked with oversight functions in an organization, you will be called on to review and approve initiatives, expenses and even absences from work.
Writing a proper letter of approval requires good email writing skills coupled with sound organizational behavior and management skill. We will look at some approval request handling best practice and lay out how to write a letter of approval with examples to help you succeed in your oversight role.
Letter of Approval Best Practice
Anyone that has ever waited several weeks to receive feedback on a leave request or budget approval can relate with the fact that the manner in which these requests and subsequent approvals are handled is critical to organizational culture and employee morale.
Be Timely with Approval Letters
Approval requests are time sensitive as they are prerequisite factors for other actions and operations. Aim to respond to approval requests within 24 to 48 hours to avoid delaying other operations dependent on your approval. Prompt replies to letters of approval are also a relief to the sender as their anxiety about the matter can be alleviated.
In cases of sensitive approvals, you may need some time to review information, documentation and conduct your own analysis. Don’t keep the sender in the dark rather respond with a short email stating that you need time to review the request.
Sample I: Email Acknowledging an Approval Request
Here is a sample letter of approval acknowledgment letter:
Re: Approval Needed – End of Year Budget
Well done with the end of year program of activities. I acknowledge receipt of your email requesting approval of the budget and schedule of activities for the end of year celebrations.
Please note that I need a few days to review the quotes and confirm your proposed schedule of activities.
I will revert to you in the week, not later than close of business on Friday.
Have a great day ahead.
Use Objective Criteria for Approvals
The presence of diverse personalities in the workplace is bound to lead to interpersonal conflict which is often referred to as “office politics”. Business leaders and managers must be careful to manage approval requests in a manner that clearly shows the absence of sentiment.
Let all approval decisions be backed by company policy and objectives. Provide explanations for all decisions in your approval letters to reinforce your objectivity and impartiality.
Here's a sample letter of approval when a team leader has to decline a leave request because the requesting officer has not met the requirements to be entitled to leave according to company policy.
Sample II: Email Declining a Leave Request
Re: Leave Request – Adam Kain
I acknowledge receipt of your email requesting 5 days leave to attend a family function out of state. I, unfortunately, have to decline your request at this time as you have not met all company requirements for leave entitlement.
If you review the leave policy contained in the staff handbook you will find the requirements for leave entitlement. Your employment status is still probationary therefore you have no leave allowance until you receive full confirmation and your status is upgraded to staff.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for any clarifications about company policies and your entitlements.
Keep the Tone Warm & Professional
Similar to other business emails and letters, keep the tone of your approval letter warm and professional. Emails written in warm professional tones breed an organizational culture of open communication, collaboration, and team orientation. Receiving strongly worded cold emails are not just a stressor but slowly erode healthy working relationships within an organization.
Displaying empathy is essential for healthy organizational relationships. Show understanding and care for the requesting personnel by using consolatory tones in cases when approval is denied. Use an appropriate congratulatory tone when sharing positive news. Use the closing paragraph of your approval letters to congratulate or offer alternatives to requesting parties as shown in the various samples.
Provide Information Relevant to the Approval
Ensure that your letter of approval contains all essential information relevant to the approval request. Confirm all necessary information to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about timelines, amounts or requirements. Granting an approval then canceling is unprofessional and stressful for all involved.
Take advantage of technology to stay abreast of pending approvals and how each approval correlates with other organizational functions. Leave rosters can be used to ensure no conflicts exist and your teams are adequately staffed at every point. You can also use the calendar app of email management platforms to ensure you do not miss approval deadlines.
Close the Letter Appropriately
Instead of closing your approval letters with generic endings, use an appropriate closing for every approval letter. For leave requests, you may wish the recipient a restful holiday. For projects, share your excitement for the project and warm wishes for the success of the implementing team. As shown in the samples above structure all communication to be consistent with the overall message of the approval letter.
Sample III: Typical Letter of Approval for a Leave Request
A typical letter of approval most businesses will encounter is for Leave requests. Here’s a sample letter of approval for a leave request.
I trust you are well.
Further to your earlier email requesting for 5 days from your annual leave for March 10 to 15, 2018, please be informed that your leave is hereby approved.
Your request doesn’t conflict with any other absences from the team and falls within your leave entitlement.
Please prepare detailed handover notes and properly handover outstanding tasks to your teammates before commencing on your leave. Also kindly provide contact information in case of emergencies.
Have a restful holiday.
Letters of Approval are instrumental to the operational efficiency of every business, therefore an understanding of how to write a letter of approval is prerequisite to leadership and managerial roles. Combine the principles discussed in this article with sound email writing skills and you are on your way to running an efficient organization.