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


Worksheet64.2 KB

Language level

Average: 4.8 (5 votes)
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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!

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