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Thursday, 27 September 2007 09:26

Problem, What Problem?

Written by  Margaret Meloni
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You have a boss, peer or subordinate who is completely in denial about the chaos that is all around them. What's a co-worker to do?


Oh there is a problem alright. And it starts with the fact that you have a boss, peer or subordinate who is completely in denial about the chaos that is all around them. If they do see any kind of issues, well those issues start with you. This is not meant to be spiteful. This is the behavior of someone who is completely oblivious to the fact that they cause problems. If they do have any inkling that there is an issue, then they have a perfect excuse. Do any of these sound familiar? 

  • “I did not call you back because you never left me a message.”
  • “I did not forget our meeting; my admin did not put it on my calendar.”
  • “My office may look messy, but leave it alone. I have a system and I know where everything is located.”

What kinds of chaos surround this person? Their chaos can be lack of organization, time related or memory related. The chaos created by this person looks like chaos created by creative types or even by someone who deceives others into thinking they are organized. The key here is that they absolutely do not own their issue. They really do not see that there is a problem.

 So what’s a co-worker to do? Well let’s look at what not to do first – do not blame them. Do not put them on the defensive.  Do not constantly harp on them about the problem. Do not argue with them about their excuses, just move on.

Now step back and look at the big picture. What do you want from this working relationship? Where do they have problems and how can you help? Even if you don’t feel like you want to help them, remember you are helping yourself too! With that in mind:

  •  Be proactive. If you know their issue will cause a problem for others, step-in. This may mean you politely remind them of customer appointments. It may mean you hand deliver important memos to them and watch them read those memos. What you are doing (without them knowing it) is nipping a potential problem in the bud.
  • Create a simple process for organizing shared information. Stay away from their personal space, but be willing to be responsible for other areas. Enlist the help of others in the office too. Your problem child may respond to the organization and join in because they want to be part of the group.
  • If they work for you, be the boss and give them direction. Advise them that missing meetings, deadlines and not returning phone calls is not acceptable. Mentor them away from the damaging behavior and toward a positive outcome.
  • Acknowledge that they have other skills. There are other areas where they are strong contributors.


And remember, their behavior is about them, it is not about you. Don’t take it personally.



Read 8419 times Last modified on Tuesday, 04 December 2007 21:13
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