DEAR STEEL ADVICE: Is there a way to curb redundancy in the workplace without appearing to be a smart aleck? I am working on a project with a woman who sends me numerous text messages and voices messages asking the same questions over and over. I answer her questions electronically and resent her pretense that she has not received a reply from me, when in fact all she wants to do is rehash verbally over the phone. The constant interruptions are counterproductive. I am not her life coach and need to get my work done.
— TIRED OF HAND-HOLDING
DEAR TIRED OF HAND-HOLDING: You cannot curb redundancy, but you can stop responding instantly to messages. You must be courteous and professional while you maintain control of your own work schedule. The woman may be intimidated and bewildered by the scope of the project and needs your reassurance at every turn that she is on target. She is terrified of making a mistake or forgetting something. Unfortunately, you cannot totally ignore her. Her constant questions and repetition may be an indication that she does not fully understand concepts you take for granted. Start to double-check and cover bases with some questions of your own.
DEAR STEEL ADVICE: I work with a man who believes that deadlines do not apply to him. He continues to tell anyone who will listen just how busy he is (as if he is the only person with work or commitments or responsibilities). This man's constant dodging affects the entire office. The snowball effect of his avoidance is consistently moving back everyone else's deadlines and work output. How can we get him to take a good look at himself and his habits and get him to understand the impact his procrastination has on other people?
— I’LL THINK ABOUT THAT TOMORROW
DEAR I’LL THINK ABOUT THAT TOMORROW: Stop covering for him. You are deluding your team, wasting time and adding stress when you accept his excuses. It is important to outline a sequence of expected events with names assigned and written delivery dates to assure project deadlines are met. Document everything. Deadlines are concrete reminders of the necessity for action. It sounds like this man cannot get started and does not have the self-discipline to stay on task. This Scarlett O’Hara’s creative spurts of genius may have sputtered and his slacker attitude needs management attention.
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