Workplace Rights

Weekly (1/4/10)

Topic of the Week  The Blind Side... Improving Your Ideas by Creating a Sounding Board at Work

Creating a sounding board:

• DO find people who care.
• DO find people who listen.
• DO find people who ask great questions.
• DON'T avoid honesty.

Your Rant: How can I do a better job at work?

911 Repair,

Maybe it's just me, but it never ceases to amaze me how far off base I can get when I'm off brainstorming by myself. That's why it's so important to have a sounding board, people who can do a reality check for you and your ideas. Which reminds me of IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. An HR friend of mind told me about an office at his company where IBS spread to 20 of 22 people. Given that this is one disease that can't be passed from person to person, it was either a medical miracle or mass hallucination.

If only more workplaces could share ideas, and energy, like the office above did with IBS. For people who work in a place where sharing isn't the norm, I've included three Do's and one Don't for creating your own sounding board at work. For more, check out "The Connect Effect" by Michael Dulworth (Berrett Koehler, 2008).

DO find people who care. WIIFM. Doesn't look familiar? It's probably the most important lesson for any of us at work, "what's in it for me?" lf you only ask, you'll find that there are many people out there who would be pleased to help you out. Two cautions. Not everyone who cares for you should be listened to. And some people might not appear to care for you, but they can once they get to know you. Of course, there are always others who can be easily bribed with a cup of coffee or lunch.

DO find people who listen. If your issues were easy, you'd just figure it out on your own. But your problem is tougher than that. So you've got to keep your eyes open for people at work who don't practice, "Ready, Fire, Aim." People who won't half listen to your problem and then offer a half-baked solution. There are people out there who can hear you, but you're going to have to learn to listen yourself if you hope to find them.

DO find people who ask great questions. People who ask really good questions can help you organize your thoughts, look at your challenge in a new way and push your thinking to a new level. Sure they can also be annoying if you are in a hurry. But under the right circumstances, question-a-holics can be pure gold at work.

DON'T avoid honesty. There is usually one person at work who wasn't raised with the BS gene. They just have to tell the truth. And their ability to put the reality in a reality check with you can be very helpful. But then again, there is a reason I put this tip last. You don't always want to talk to them first, sometime you need to give your idea or project a little time to develop.

Follow these tips and your ideas will be successful, dramatically decreasing any chance you'll catch IBS at work.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself."

–Oscar Wilde

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    Hit bottom…Employers see more hiring in 2010

    • 20% of employers plan to increase hiring
    • 9% plan to decrease headcount
    • 61% will maintain current staffing
    • 10% are unsure


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