New and Transitioning Professionals | Business Teachers | Career Counselors/Human Resource Professionals


Water Cooler

Information and insight about your career and the workplace at large
September 2004

News and Views

"Blogs will soon become a staple in the information diet of every serious businessperson," writes tech info expert John Battelle in Business 2.0, "not because it's cool to read them, but because those who don't read them will fail." Blogs offer business people a way to get and to understand the kind of information they need to make business decisions. With nearly 10,000 new blogs coming online each day, Battelle says, there's little time to waste. More

Care Bear or Weedwhacker — which label reflects your at-work communication style? Put another way, do your actions make you seem approachable, or ready to attack? To improve communication and reduce negative perceptions that hamper person-to-person interaction, Booz Allen hired a career coach who trained workers on how to monitor their body language and tone. Later, in a study to determine the effectiveness of the coaching, the company found that more than half its workers said the coaching changed how teams worked together and that coaching improved their own development. Booz Allen estimated program benefits at $3.3 million for 2003. More

Have we gotten so leery of micro that we've stopped managing altogether? Maybe so, says Fortune writer Anne Fisher. In a study, workplace guru Bruce Tulgan ( and his team of coaches found an "epidemic of undermanagement." Tuglan says that employees want these five management basics: (1) clear statements of what's expected of each employee, (2) explicit and measurable goals and deadlines, (3) detailed evaluation of each person's work, (4) clear feedback, and (5) rewards fairly meted out. Yet only 10% of managers provide their direct reports with all five of the basics at least once a week. Only 25% do so at least once a month. And about a third of managers fail to get around to the basics even once a year. More


Maybe it's a holdover from "back-to-school" days, but I've always found September a good time to take stock of where I am with respect to the personal and professional goals I've set for the year. Maybe this is true for you, too.

So here are some self-assessment tools that might be useful as you take stock of where you are and where you're going.

A career coach can help you discover how to create the future you want — even in uncharted waters. Take the Discovery Cycle assessment

Test your cultural sensitivity before landing a job abroad. Quiz me

Sooner or later you'll face an ethical dilemma on the job. How do your ethics measure up? Find out

Making It Work for You

Readers, this is your space—for tips on how you've solved a problem on the job, "gotten over" not tooting your own horn, or anything else related to being your own best advocate in the workplace. Special Offer: Get a complimentary copy of Mentor Me when your story is selected for publication in WaterCooler . Send your story to and watch for your byline in a future issue.

This month's story is from my "dream employee," a young woman who worked with me and who later in her career shared a story about how "reframing" a situation with a difficult boss actually strengthened her career. For obvious reasons, she wishes her contribution to be anonymous.

Mentoring My Boss: How I Influenced My Boss by Changing My Behavior

My team and I were working on a project that my boss felt was unsatisfactory. The boss called me into her office and got very angry at me, her usual style when confronting those whose work didn't measure up to her standards. But instead of matching her emotion and continuing the fight, I was able to react calmly. "OK," I said, "what is it about this project that's disturbing to you so that we can learn not to do this in the future?"

The boss reacted beautifully—she calmed down, and later even apologized to me for getting angry in the first place! My boss had never apologized to other people, the people who typically got emotional with her.

I surprised myself by my own ability to react calmly under those circumstances, but learned that the best way to influence others was to change my behavior. The contrast between my behavior and that of my boss was "outrageous" enough to stop the anger cycle, and resulted in an expected and more pleasant outcome.

Coming Up

Workshops and Book Signings

Meeting Planners International—Rochester Chapter September Dinner Program, Rochester, NY, September 23, 2004. Contact: Jan Van Harssel, 716.286.8276;

Meet the Authors, International Women’s Writing Guild, New York, NY. October 10, 2004. Contact: Hannelore Hahn, 212.737.7536;