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Business news solutions items — Dec. 1

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CONSUMER

Tracking holiday spending

Maintaining control of a household budget during the holiday season can prove challenging.

A variety of websites serve up a host of tips that help shoppers plan their purchases and make wise use of their hard-earned cash and credit cards.

Here are a few sites worth visiting:

• Bankrate.com: Offers insights on a smart holiday shopping plan and getting the most from your spending. Site: www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/tips-for-stretching-your-holiday-budget-1.aspx

• Financial Web: Discusses ways to budget for decorations, food and gifts. Site: www.finweb.com/financial-planning/holiday-budgeting-tips.html

• Investopedia: Features tips for saving on holiday decorations, meals and gifts. Site: www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/07/holiday-budget.asp

• The Street: Spotlights five tips for Black Friday spending and credit card use, and for the holiday season in general. Site: www.thestreet.com/story/12112319/1/5-tips-for-black-friday-credit-card-spending.html

• Women’s Institute for Financial Education: Provides nine holiday-shopping techniques designed to keep spending in check. Site: www.wife.org/shopping-days-left-till-holidays.htm

— By Chuck Myers

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

WORKPLACE

Guide to supervising

Q: As a new supervisor, I don’t know what to do about one of my former co-workers. “Dan” is a loudmouth braggart who always tries to be the center of attention. He inserts himself into every conversation and interrupts people while they are trying to work. To make it worse, Dan is lazy and incompetent. He repeatedly makes mistakes and never attempts to correct them. Despite being extremely forgetful, he refuses to write down instructions. I don’t know why he’s still here, because people have complained about him for years. Now that I’m in charge, I’m sure the group expects me to do something about Dan, so I don’t want to let them down. At the same time, however, I’m afraid to make waves because I’m the newest member of the management team. How should I handle this?

A: Despite the history of complaints, apparently no one has had the gumption to confront Dan’s performance problems. Your cowardly predecessor took the easy way out and ignored these deficiencies, so kudos to you for at least recognizing the need to address them.

However, I’m puzzled by your fear that taking such a step would be viewed as “making waves.” Unless your organization has an exceptionally wimpy management culture, tackling a difficult performance issue should actually enhance your reputation as a savvy supervisor.

The first step in any corrective action process is to obtain backing from above, so you will need to agree with your boss on a plan for Dan. Since the previous supervisor may not have shared this information, start by explaining exactly how Dan is creating a business problem.

For example: “You may not be aware of this, but Dan has been hurting our group’s performance for quite a while. He refuses to correct his frequent errors, and his disruptive behavior is distracting to other team members. I would really appreciate your support in resolving this issue.”

Because Dan has more experience being a problem than you have being a manager, consider asking your boss to sit in on the initial discussion with him. Getting the attention of a recalcitrant employee frequently requires some additional firepower.

— By Marie G. McIntyre

McClatchy-Tribune News Service


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