Teams require balancing act
Q: I oversee two teams; one is high-performing, and the other has some serious challenges. I have to spend most of my time with the team that’s struggling, but don’t want to neglect the strong team. How can I balance this?
A: Be forthright with your teams about how you’ll be spending your time, and prioritize the time you spend with each to get the most benefit.
Focus on the present with whatever you’re doing.
How closely have you diagnosed the issues for your struggling team? List the specific challenges they face, be they a staffing misalignment, poor processes, interpersonal conflicts or other issues. Each will require different solutions, so it’s important to be clear on the problems. Then consider your options for addressing the situation so you’ll have the resources you need — and will be clear on the limitations you face.
— By Liz Reyer
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Don’t encourage bad behavior
Q: I have an older co-worker who constantly tries to prove that he’s smarter than I am. “Tom” never went to college, while I have an advanced degree. Although I never mention my education, he brings it up all the time. Because we work in a scientific field, Tom likes to search for obscure pieces of information and quiz me about them. If I don’t know the answer, he says, “Well, you’re the one that went to college.” But if I do know the answer, he immediately goes online to find a way to contradict me. These ridiculous debates are a complete waste of time. Even though I spent six years of my life studying this field, Tom will never accept anything I say. I am so frustrated that I have considered complaining to our boss. Do you have any other suggestions?
A: You are actually encouraging Tom’s childish behavior. In the language of office politics, your insecure colleague is playing a “superiority game.” Superiority players compensate for feelings of inadequacy by trying to appear more important or informed than others.
The best way to shut down such a game is simply to stop playing. Since Tom’s underlying objective is to aggravate you, expressing annoyance or engaging in pointless arguments will only motivate him to continue. Therefore, you must break this communication pattern by switching to a neutral response. Resist the urge to take this petty complaint to your boss.
— By Marie G. McIntyre
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Document all communication
Q: Nine months ago, we received a loan modification, but our bank later sold the loan to another lender. We have continued making timely payments, but the new lender won’t recognize the modification and has been sending us threatening letters. We have called and explained, to no avail. What can we do to fix this?
A: Banks often sell loans to one another, and each sale can be an adventure for the borrower. The most important thing that you can do is send in your payments on time and document all communication that you have with your new lender.
You should send the bank a copy of your loan modification paperwork by fax or certified mail — and be willing to send it again and again, if necessary. Call often, getting the names of the representatives you speak with and writing down what they tell you.
The problem could be different than what you originally thought. For example, you may think the lender is just ignoring the modification, but instead the issue may be that the bank doesn’t have your insurance information and bought you a new policy, which caused your monthly payments to rise. You should be able to get this resolved on your own. But as long as you document everything, your lawyer will have the tools he or she needs in case it comes to a lawsuit.
— By Gary M. Singer
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel