Most people are under the impression that asking for help will make them look incompetent, or hurt their career in some way, but this is absolutely false. Of course, if you are constantly asking for help because you are lazy or lacking time management skills, this is a different story. However, if you are asking for help because you want to learn, or come up with solutions or improvements, requesting help will likely make you look like quite a valuable employee.
When to Ask for Help
If you are trying to impress your boss, you need to know when you should and should not ask for help. After all, it would be pretty embarrassing to have that new hire showing you how to change the toner in the copy machine. Your questions need to be appropriate, and timing is everything.
- Project Details – If you are not sure of project details, always ask for help. It shows that you are eager to make sure every aspect of the project is handled properly. However, if your boss took the time to put together a detailed outline, video and PowerPoint presentation, and you are the only one asking for clarification, there could be a problem.
- Unsure of Deadlines – If a project is made up of several components, you may need to ask if one part is a priority. Should anything be addressed first? Has an actual deadline been given? Knowing the deadline of all your projects will allow you to prioritize efficiently.
- Weak Area – Everyone has a weak area. If something is stressing you and consuming all of your time, and you really can’t figure out the answer, ask for help. The important thing is to use resources wisely. If you go to someone for help, learn what they are telling you so you are not turning to them again later for the same thing. Most people don’t mind lending a hand once, but when it becomes a habit, you become a nuisance.
- Build Relationships – Conflict in the office is never good, especially if it involves you. Employers can sense friction so if you and someone else just can’t get along, it will reflect unfavorably on you. You will find that quite often, if you go to that person with a question, or request advice because you respect their opinion, it will break down the walls instantly, and allow you to have a better working relationship. This allows you to do your job more effectively as well, because you are not distracted by little things that really should not matter in the first place.
How to Ask
It is not always an appropriate time to ask for help from anyone. Even if you think someone isn’t busy, their time is just as valuable as yours, so don’t assume they are available to help you because you think they are.
The last thing that you want to do is barge in and ask a question or request help. Ask the person if they have time later in the day. There is a good chance that they will offer to help immediately, but they should be given that opportunity to decide.
Most importantly, if you receive praise for a job well done, and someone else helped you, acknowledge them. It makes you look gracious and like a team player, and others will be more likely to help you when you need it in the future.