Managing a problem

Read an email managing the problems faced by a member of an international team.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.

Reading text

From: Jo Backhouse
To: Karl Anderson
Date: 17 October
Subject: Support for Judy

Dear Karl,

I received a call from Judy a couple of days ago to discuss some of the issues that she was having and I thought I'd give you a heads-up on what was said, seeing that you are Judy's project team leader.

Judy really enjoys working with you and the team and finds the project very interesting, but I think she's feeling a bit lost and struggling to see the big picture. It seems that she's been given a fair amount of autonomy to carry out the tasks that you've given her, and of course this level of delegation is not uncommon in your branch. But I believe in her Tokyo office, she is used to a bit more managerial direction and guidance and so is finding this international project quite daunting.

When I asked her about meeting her deadlines, she mentioned that due to the recent changes to the project timeline, her goalposts have been moved, and she doesn't seem to really understand why this has happened. Bearing in mind that she's also facing simultaneous deadlines from her department in Tokyo, we can presume that she might be feeling a bit stretched.

Looking ahead, I was wondering if we could make it easier for Judy by offering her more direction when setting her tasks, at least until she learns the ropes and gets used to working unsupervised. I think she'd also appreciate you giving her a clearer idea on how her role in the team fits into the overview of things. Do you think you could maybe outline the group and individual targets at your next team meeting and that way, everyone not only gets a reminder of the end goal, but each team member, including Judy, might have a more holistic view of the whole project?

I was also thinking it might help to touch base with her every so often to make sure that she's up to date with any changes to the overall plan of attack. In the meantime, I'll write to her manager in the Tokyo office and see how aware they are of the deadlines you've given her, and if they could in some way review her responsibilities and co-ordinate her tasks so that she doesn't constantly feel pulled in both directions.

Judy is an extremely conscientious worker and is eager to contribute positively to the team. Personally, I think she is someone with high potential and will be an asset to our international projects if properly mentored. I'm keen to know your thoughts on the matter and am open to any suggestions on how we could better support Judy so that she has a more smooth-sailing experience on the team.

Best regards,

Jo Backhouse

Head of Department
International Projects

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Worksheet64.2 KB

Language level

C1 English level (advanced)

Submitted by meknini on Sat, 16/07/2022 - 05:34


No. I not at a supervisorial or managerial position thus I am not directly responsible for any staffs except myself.

Submitted by Abdulaziz Ali Awil on Tue, 29/03/2022 - 19:21


Really it's Fascinating and good experience for me, this Letter was usefull, I didn't used to write such this but I'll at least imitate. At the side of C1 It's quite difficult and there is a lot of paragraps. In my opinion the Paragraphs in such this context must be easy written and more understandable

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Wed, 27/10/2021 - 06:56


I'm a still student. I'm not working. I don't write such email ever. Many people think that there is a lots of problems anyone can faced in workplace.

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Submitted by Hennadii on Thu, 15/07/2021 - 10:27

Actually, I feel the same as Judy right now because I changed my job half of the year-ago and honestly don't feel comfortable for today. I still don't fully match in my new team sometimes I feel lost a bit. Maybe because I was on maternity leave for four years and kind of lost something, don't know how to explain, working rhythm or so. Another reason for my uncomfortableness is a lockdown. Due to the Covid-19, we have to spend a lot of time at home not at the office so we work more individually not as a team. That means I have to spend more time to accustom to my new colleagues and so do they. But these problems just make my task harder but not impossible and I do my best to become a valuable part of the project and help us to meet our goals. By the way, despite all my struggles, my company offered me a contract extension. So ... they think I'm doing quite well and I'm glad to know that. Anyway, I'm going on vacation soon so I'll have a chance to recharge my batteries and do my job with new strength.

Submitted by Andrea Valencia on Sat, 03/07/2021 - 15:57

In my job there are many problems, there is also a lot of autonomy but there is no teamwork or clear goals.

Submitted by Ehsan on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 04:54

I have not written an email, but I try to explain the problem and get help from my colleagues.

Submitted by Abdulhadi94 on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 17:27

How do you deal with problems at work? Have you ever had to write an email similar to this one? Firstly , I would break the problems down which allowed me to see the big picture. Also , I might ask my co-worker to help me if they have the ability to help me out to get over it. Finally , i will not make a decision based on thing that is not real or i am not certain about . I have never ever sent an email to someone in my work . what i do is that if i can handle it and solve it i will do it myself otherwise i will send an email

Submitted by mxoubi0 on Tue, 28/07/2020 - 21:35

I would like to say that this email is quite hard to understand, it might be another way to write it. I just feel a bit of difficulty while I am reading this paragraph. May you please let's know that it could be work in real-life or it just for the practice. Thanks in advance for your kind explanations.
Hi mxoubi0, Yes, this is an C1 (advanced) level email so it will be quite difficult. It is designed to be a realistic email. You might like to try some other readings in this section, or maybe try another level (e.g. B2). Best wishes, Jonathan The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alisher188 on Fri, 05/06/2020 - 08:30

Fascinating text, a lot of useful phrases. Task 1 - 100% Task 2 - 100% Thanks a lot!
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Submitted by Steve Zarv on Tue, 21/01/2020 - 05:44

Taking it for granted that I'm still unemployed because of the fact that my country's policies don't allow young people to get a stable job, I've never had to gone through issues that have to do with this scope. Still, I've dealt with many people with whom I've had some inconveniences, especially workers from an institute I used to attend for my English classes, where eventually, I found myself compelled to put out some occasional comments about they somewhat rough and strict way in which they approached the classes, something with witch I certainly didn't expect to be taken seriously coming from nobody but a beginner. It was then that I decided to take on the responsibility to be in charge of my own learning for my own sake, by studying everything by myself which in a matter of time brought me good results. It became my tipping point, I assume that since then I've learnt that, once in a while the only way out you have is the one that you construct by yourself.

Submitted by nikoslado on Fri, 30/08/2019 - 16:30

Dear Team, I'd like to mention something I've noticed in Advanced c1 reading course.Many times it's too difficult or even impossible for me to do correctly, or understand exactly, the Preparation part, with its short or general definitions about different meanings in words or situations.Ιt's like a ''brain teaser'' for me.But, if I've read the texts first and got their key context and the ''speach flow '', all seem to be easier, and then, I can do correctly the Preparation task , as it were a usual Task. What could you say? Ever grateful, nikoslado
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 31/08/2019 - 08:24

In reply to by nikoslado


Hello nikoslado,

The order of the tasks on our pages is not fixed. We recommend that you do the tasks in a certain order, but if you find it more useful to do them in a different order then of course you may.

The preparation tasks are generally designed to pre-teach some useful vocabulary in order to help you to understand the text better. If you move this task to later and do it after the reading then it becomes more a vocabulary test (how much of the vocabular you understood) than a pre-teaching tool (helping you to prepare for the text).



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by RobRoy on Tue, 26/03/2019 - 16:49

Hi. In this sentence : "When I asked her about meeting her deadlines, she mentioned that due to the recent changes to the project timeline, her goalposts have been moved, and she doesn't seem to really understand why this has happened. " Shouldn't we use past-perfect "Had been moved and had happened" and past simple " she didn't seem to really unerstand" Thanks
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 27/03/2019 - 06:11

In reply to by RobRoy

Hello RobRoy, Both forms are possible here. In reported speech, we often move the verb form one step into the past as compared with the original direct speech. However, if the situation is still true, then we can leave the verb form in the present. For example: >>Direct speech>Reported speech

Submitted by RobRoy on Mon, 25/03/2019 - 15:27

No, I haven't wrote a letter like that before. The letter is written very cool. The way all these idioms are used very naturel.

Submitted by Ola Jamal on Thu, 14/03/2019 - 19:10

Hello I would like to thank everyone in LearnEnglish team. It is a helpful and enjoyable site to learn English. I have noticed that there is a missing word ( I ) in this sentence ( I'm keen to know your thoughts on the matter and am open to any suggestions on how ...)
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 15/03/2019 - 13:28

In reply to by Ola Jamal

Hello Ola Jamal Thank you for telling us about this! It is actually correct -- it is OK to leave out subject pronouns in situations like this one, where it is clear that who the subject of the verb is. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Shalini19 on Mon, 11/03/2019 - 10:54

this is very helpful task.