Asking for Help at Work – How You Can and Why You Should

Danielle Doolen
2 months ago

It’s OK to ask for help. Actually, it’s encouraged. If you want to be successful and accomplish your goals, you need to ask for what you need. Whether that’s a pay raise, more responsibility, or help on a project. Not sure where to start? We’re here to help.

Why Ask for Help

Since when did asking for help at work become a bad thing? You may not want to come across as annoying or unintelligent, but speaking up is likely to have the opposite effect. At the end of the day, your company is a team, and everyone on the team needs to succeed so the company can flourish. Asking for help, when warranted, can increase the quality of your work product, overall operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction. When you’re performing your job well, you’re one step closer to achieving your goals.

So, when should you ask for help, and why should you? Let us explain.

When to Ask for Help

Asking for help does not mean you’re admitting weakness or failure. When done correctly, you’ll likely be praised for your efficiency because you’re not stuck spinning your wheels. You’re not expected to know everything. But you also don’t want to be bothering your boss and coworkers with your questions all the time. So it’s key to find a delicate balance between asking for help and figuring it out on your own.

First, try your best to figure out your question or problem on your own. As a rule of thumb, if you can easily Google it, don’t interrupt someone else’s workday to ask for help. Do what you can to solve your problem using the resources available to you before you seek help from others.

If you spend a reasonable amount of time researching an answer to your question but still come up short, then it’s time to ask for help. Remember, helping out a two-way street. Offer your advice and input when you can, and others are more likely to return the favor.

Here are a few scenarios where it makes sense to ask for help.

When you’re new to a company or a role. It’s expected that you don’t know what you’re doing. Instead of acting like you know it all, ask for help. You already have the job, so make sure you set yourself up for success to do it well.

When you have too much on your plate. If you’re overloaded and overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to say so. Approach your manager with what you’re working on and ask how to best prioritize the tasks or see what deadlines can be pushed back. They’ll appreciate your honesty and transparency.

When you made a mistake. If you made a mistake, big or small, and need help figuring out how to fix it or handle the situation, ask. It’s OK not to know how to navigate a tricky situation.

When you need advice. If you’re seeking mentorship or input on a project, chances are there’s someone who’s done it before or at least something similar. Ask for a few minutes of their time to get your wheels turning and to get the ball rolling.

When you have no idea what you’re doing. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just don’t know what you’re doing. That’s OK. We’re human. Ask for help.

How to Ask for Help

Get Clear on Your Ask

Once you’ve exhausted all the resources you have available to you, get clear on your ask. What is it that you need help with? Is it a question answered, assistance with a project, or guidance on your responsibilities? Knowing exactly what you need will help you be direct in your request to ensure you walk away from the conversation with the information you need.

Find the Right Person

Once you’re clear on what you need help with, determine the right person to ask. Don’t always assume the best person to ask is your manager or their boss. Sometimes your peer or a coworker in a different department can assist you. Reach out to this person and ask for a few minutes of their time. Provide them with enough background information about what you need help with so they don’t walk into the discussion blind.

Get Prepared

You have time scheduled on their calendar, now brainstorm any and all questions you want to ask them pertaining to your situation. The goal is to walk into the conversation prepared so you can walk away feeling confident about how to tackle your project, issue, or question. Taking the time to plan upfront will make sure you get the most out of the meeting.

Be Authentic

When you’re in the meeting asking for help, be genuine in your ask. Explain your situation, how you tried to approach it yourself, and how you think the person can help. Ask them your questions and really listen. Most people are more willing to help than you may think. They’re taking time out of their day to help you, so be appreciative of their input and advice. When a company culture is created where asking for help is encouraged, everyone wins.

Admitting you need help can be difficult, but to advance your work and your career, it’s essential. Once you get in the habit of helping others and asking for help in return, you’ll find that your team, your career, and your work will thrive.

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