CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q I work in the New York office of a mid-size agency that has additional locations in Chicago, LA, and London. One of our biggest accounts is serviced through this office, and supported by LA and Chicago. My boss is the lead on the account. The problem I have is with one of my peers in the LA office.

Q I work in the New York office of a mid-size agency that has additional locations in Chicago, LA, and London. One of our biggest accounts is serviced through this office, and supported by LA and Chicago. My boss is the lead on the account. The problem I have is with one of my peers in the LA office.

He is constantly missing deadlines and handing unfinished assignments back to me with some thin excuse like, "You should handle this because you are the lead agency."

I have mentioned these problems to my boss, but she has not really taken my complaints seriously. She only sees that the work gets done (by me, usually!), and as long as that's the case, she really doesn't care about the details.

Since I don't share an office with him (I have never even met him in person), I do not feel entirely comfortable approaching him directly. What should I do?

Ms. L, New York

A Long-distance working relationships are very tough to manage, especially when you are not leading the account but supporting the effort. First, I would advise you to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. Call him and try to convince him that the two of you need to talk more. Try to forge a better relationship with him through your own efforts, and he may respond with a more attentive attitude.

Of course, that may not work. Some of my loyal readers will know what I am about to say next, because it is one of my most commonly dealt out pieces of advice. Document, document, document everything. Keep a record of the work as it is assigned, including deadlines, completion dates, and logs of who was given what tasks to do, and who completed them.

Let your boss know that you want to keep track of the account work, and ask if you can let all your inter-office colleagues know that you are doing this.

Just knowing that someone is keeping tabs on such matters should give the lazy staffers a little extra incentive to perform.

Q I was recently working with one of my favorite journalist contacts on a story about one of my retail clients. The client has had some financial problems lately, all of which have been covered by this reporter. I arranged for her to interview the CEO in person, and hoped that my preparation would enable the reporter to really take in a different side of the story.

But when the reporter arrived for the interview, the CEO spent the first 10 minutes telling her that all her stories about this company are inaccurate and unfair, and that she should be ashamed of herself for "peddling rumors.

The reporter was furious. Her story has not run yet, but I'm betting it will be completely negative.

Perhaps more importantly, I am worried that the CEO has completely wrecked my relationship with this reporter, who I value very highly. How can I make it up to her?

Mr. D, Dallas

A You have two problems - a difficult CEO and a fractured media relationship.

When the story comes out, and if it takes the negative tone you believe it will, you have an opportunity to point out to the CEO that verbally attacking the reporter may have damaged what chance you had to secure positive coverage. These things do count, you know, not least because a CEO that can't be trusted to act in a civil manner to a reporter may not be all that trustworthy in general.

As for the reporter, you owe her one. Big time. Apologize, and make it clear that you don't in any way condone the CEO's behavior. You will have many opportunities to help her with stories and redeem yourself.

Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try Pandora. E-mail her at pandora@prweek.com.

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