Q: I recently hired an employee who has turned out to be quite difficult. Although “Carolyn” does good work, she is older than I am and does not like taking directions from me. Because we are both organized and detail-oriented, conflicts arise when Carolyn wants to do things her own way. Carolyn is very assertive, while I am more casual and relaxed. I have only been a manager for a few months, so disagreements fluster me. I tend to get defensive, which is not helpful. How should I deal with this challenging employee?
A: Because supervision is an acquired skill, your real challenge is learning how to be a boss. Carolyn may indeed be frustrating, but an experienced supervisor would have no problem handling this situation. New managers, on the other hand, typically have difficulty with performance issues. To become an effective leader, recognize your own strengths and weaknesses. While your easygoing nature is an asset in many ways, you need to toughen up when dealing with more forceful staff members. This means learning to use the authority of your position without becoming dictatorial.
— By Marie G. McIntyre
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Unpaid condo dues
Q: I went into foreclosure several years ago on my condominium because I was not able to afford the mortgage and condo dues and stopped paying both. About a year ago, I went through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and moved to a new home I am renting. I recently got a letter from my former association saying I owe money for unpaid dues. Do I?
A: Yes. When you borrow money from a lender to buy a home, you sign both a mortgage and a promissory note. The promissory note is your promise to pay the bank back the money you borrowed and the mortgage lien allows the bank to take back the home as payment toward the note if you stop paying.
A typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy will relieve you of paying back the money you borrowed for the home, but it will not disturb the mortgage lien against the property. This means that after the bankruptcy is complete, you still owe the condo dues until your lender finishes the foreclosure action.
While the bankruptcy will have erased all the back payments you owe the association, you still will rack up new payments after the bankruptcy since you still own the property. You also still have all the other responsibilities of ownership, such as property taxes and liability for negligence.
If you are abandoning a property in bankruptcy, you need to make sure the bank takes back ownership as soon as possible to avoid further problems. Talk to your lender about the importance of wrapping up the case quickly — or consider filing a motion with the court to push the case to a conclusion.
— By Gary M. Singer
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
Blocking DVD recording
Q: My VCR-DVD recorder now appears to be blocked by DirecTV from recording TV shows on a DVD. All channels display the message, “Copy Protected. Can Not Record.” Should I toss out my DVD recorder and get a DVR (digital video recorder)?
A: If you plan to continue using DirecTV, your DVD recorder won’t be good for much. This is how entertainment producers maintain control of their shows, and prevent viewers from making personal copies. The copy protection does allow you to record temporary copies of TV shows to a DVR, which has a disk drive that can be erased. Don’t bother trying to copy shows from your DVR to your DVD recorder. The copy protection software thwarts that, too.
— By Steve Alexander
Minneapolis Star Tribune