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Problem, What Problem?

Margaret Meloni

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Oh there is a problem alright. And it starts with the fact that you have a boss, peer or subordinate who is completely in denial about the chaos that is all around them. If they do see any kind of issues, well those issues start with you. This is not meant to be spiteful. This is the behavior of someone who is completely oblivious to the fact that they cause problems. If they do have any inkling that there is an issue, then they have a perfect excuse. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • "I did not call you back because you never left me a message. "
  • "I did not forget our meeting; my admin did not put it on my calendar. "
  • "My office may look messy, but leave it alone. I have a system and I know where everything is located. "

What kinds of chaos surround this person? Their chaos can be lack of organization, time related or memory related. The chaos created by this person looks like chaos created by creative types or even by someone who deceives others into thinking they are organized. The key here is that they absolutely do not own their issue. They really do not see that there is a problem.

So what's a co-worker to do? Well let's look at what not to do first - do not blame them. Do not put them on the defensive.  Do not constantly harp on them about the problem. Do not argue with them about their excuses, just move on.

Now step back and look at the big picture. What do you want from this working relationship? Where do they have problems and how can you help? Even if you don't feel like you want to help them, remember you are helping yourself too! With that in mind:

  • Be proactive. If you know their issue will cause a problem for others, step-in. This may mean you politely remind them of customer appointments. It may mean you hand deliver important memos to them and watch them read those memos. What you are doing (without them knowing it) is nipping a potential problem in the bud.
  • Create a simple process for organizing shared information. Stay away from their personal space, but be willing to be responsible for other areas. Enlist the help of others in the office too. Your problem child may respond to the organization and join in because they want to be part of the group.
  • If they work for you, be the boss and give them direction. Advise them that missing meetings, deadlines and not returning phone calls is not acceptable. Mentor them away from the damaging behavior and toward a positive outcome.
  • Acknowledge that they have other skills. There are other areas where they are strong contributors.

And remember, their behavior is about them, it is not about you. Don't take it personally.

Margaret Meloni helps professionals create career strategies that bring them success and enhance their work experiences. She helps her clients focus on the importance of professional brand and reputation management.

Margaret is a people oriented leader with over eighteen years experience in Information Technology. She holds a B. Business Administration and an M. B. A. from California State University, Long Beach. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute and an instructor at the University of California Los Angeles.

A dynamic speaker who combines inspiration, common sense and a dash of humor; Margaret has spoken at technology conferences and events hosted by the Association of Information Technology Professionals; The Project Management Institute and The International Institute of Business Analysis.

This same style keeps her UCLA and UC Irvine students and seminar attendees actively engaged during their learning experience.

To learn more please visit:


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