Managing a problem

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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Average: 4.6 (18 votes)

Submitted by jmajo on Thu, 28/12/2023 - 16:00


Usually I speak directly to our manager and try to get a solution together, but if it’s an important issue that could affect the team work, we talk about it in the weekly meeting to get every team member involved in the possible solutions. I try to avoid discuss these matters by email because it’s more effective to talk about it personally, we generally send an mail as a remember of the solution agreed after the meeting.

Thanks for the lesson.
Great site!

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Submitted by Ramiro Solana on Wed, 16/08/2023 - 17:16


Normally I handle these types of matters in person with the person involved or at least with a phone call. I usually try to check if we both have the same understanding of the situation and then try to come up with solutions that I think would be helpful.

Submitted by EmilioM on Fri, 17/02/2023 - 19:08


Well I have never been in direct charge of an international project or something as such, but being a member of some of these has taught me that the most important thing is to always maintain the big picture in mind. I do believe a proper manager should always touch base with his team in order to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding that may have appear in the future.

Submitted by Eduardo Sr on Fri, 17/02/2023 - 18:13


It's a greatful exercise because helped me to increase my vocabulary

Submitted by Elenahoms22 on Fri, 17/02/2023 - 16:52


This email was interesting for me and I feel Iil' bit identificated with this.
When I started to work on the company I'm working now, I feel a bit lost and struggling because it was something new for me, new process to learn but the good thing of this is that the supervisors and the staff always touch base with us so often to make sure that we to date with any changes and doubts

Submitted by ulisesc on Fri, 17/02/2023 - 16:43


I usually try to have a smooth-sailing experience and not to have problems at work. At the beginning I needed to see the big picture to understand what my position is in the company and try to learn the ropes to do my best in my role.
I've never had to write an email like that.

Submitted by YamV on Fri, 17/02/2023 - 15:10


Personally, when am at work I enjoy having a big picture of what I have to do and what is the work about, because when not it can feel stretching. Therefore, whenever a particular situation happens I can be sure of how the process have to be done ideally or whom to request help from, so that I don't feel pull in different direction and
work can be as smoot as possible

Submitted by Perla Maria on Thu, 16/02/2023 - 21:38


Usually when I have a problem at work, I try to touch base directly with the person involved, but in case this can't be solved, I reach out to my Supervisor, always making my best effort to see the big picture and be objective. Also, when I don' know or don't understand something I ask to the staff giving them a heads-up of the issue, so I can learn the ropes about the process. And fortunately, our leaders do not move the goalposts, so I don't feel stretched.

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