Workplace Rights

Weekly (2/3/14)

Topic of the Week  Big Splash--Having a Bigger Impact at Work

  • DO be present in the moment.
  • DO listen externally and internally
  • DO speak what is true.
  • DON'T be attached to a particular outcome.

With so many people laid off and struggling, most of us realize the importance of having a big impact at work, if for no other reason than to increase the odds that we won't become a statistic. Which reminds me of a 67-year-old Oklahoma man who got his foot stuck between the gas and the brake on his car. Unfortunately at the time he was on the seventh floor of a downtown Tulsa parking garage. He crashed through part of the wall, luckily, no one was hurt.

Many of us are like that at work, we back into stuff. The goal of this column is simple, to help point you in the right direction to have the biggest impact at work possible, on purpose. I've listed three Do's and one Don't to increase your leverage at work. For more, check out Stewart Levine's book, "Getting to Resolution" (Berrett Koehler, 2009).

DO be present in the moment. Ever been in a meeting where key points kept having to be repeated because no one was paying attention? Between texting, emails, IM, sometimes it feels like no one cares about anyone else, because every electronic message trumps the people sitting right next to them. Wouldn't it be nice if people respected each other's time enough so that they would pay attention. Okay, call me a dreamer.

DO listen externally and internally. I've noticed that there are a lot of people who are great at listening to what's going on inside a company. And a lot of others that are good at listening to what's going on outside of the company. But relatively few who are capable at doing both. Today we all need to have our finger on the pulse both outside and inside our companies.

DO speak what is true. I would have been able to retire years ago if I carried around a jar for every lie that I've heard inside of organizations. Just $1 a lie, and I'd be sunning myself in the South of France right now. How can we turn this around and create a culture of honestly? Simple, start speaking the truth ourselves. Sure it's hard, but I can't begin to tell you how many people have written through the years who've actually changed organizations from the middle, just by treating other people the way they'd like to be treated.

DON'T be attached to a particular outcome. Have you ever been so tied to a particular outcome that you felt crestfallen when things didn't turn out exactly as you'd hoped? Only to later discover that the outcome that actually happened was better than the one you'd hoped for. Been there, done that. When I started writing this column I was disappointed because a paper only wanted to syndicate it, not hire me full time. This unexpected outcome was better than the one I was hoping for.

Follow these tips and you won't go crashing through walls, you'll have the kind of positive impact you're trying for at work.

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

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–George Lucas

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