In Collaboration, Culture

Asking for help can be intimidating. Many of the most generous, giving people who are always eager to pitch in and offer help are afraid to ask for it themselves. Maybe we think it makes us look weak or incompetent, maybe we think we haven’t earned help yet. Whatever the reason, it feels vulnerable to put a request out there and ask colleagues to help.

There’s a line I love in Hamilton, said by George Washington to Alexander Hamilton in Cabinet Battle #1: “Winning was easy, young man. Governing’s harder.” I’ve been thinking about that lately, but instead the words that go through my mind are, “Helping is easy, young man. Asking is harder.”

However, asking for help has a ton of benefits including improving efficiency, productivity, and team performance. The average American worker spends 10 hours a week looking for information at work or trying to track down a colleague who can help them.

So today I have a challenge for you. Ask someone for help! If your organization is already using Givitas, do it there. If you don’t have Givitas implemented yet, find another way to ask for help. You won’t get all the other additional benefits of Givitas but you’ll still be exercising the “ask for help” muscle, which is good for all of us!

Here are some ideas to get you started if you’re not sure what you need.

  1. Start out by thinking about a goal, project, or problem you have whether it’s at work or not.
  • What were you thinking about last time you couldn’t get your mind off something while you were exercising or trying to fall asleep?
  • What piece of information, knowledge, or advice are you missing?
  • Is there a connection or introduction who could help you?
  1. If that doesn’t work, think about that stat I quoted above, that the average American worker spends 10 hours a week looking for information…does that ring true even if it’s not quite that much time? What did you spend time trying to figure out this week. Might someone in your Givitas network be able to help?
  2. Finally, see if any of the following spark an idea. Do you need any of the following:
  • A piece of information needed to complete a project
  • An introduction or connection to an expert/thought leader you’d like to know
  • A specific skill or ability that you would like to learn or hire
  • A second set of eyes on an important presentation or document
  • Volunteers to join a project or initiative you are working on

Once you have identified a need for help, we recommend you follow our SMART criteria for writing a request. This works best in Givitas but could also work with an emailed or verbal request.

SMART: Specific, Meaningful, Actionable, Real, Time-bound

  • Specific: Specific requests get more help than general or vague requests. Provide enough details so that your community knows exactly what you need.
  • Meaningful: Tell everyone why your request is important.  It motivates others to help when they know exactly why you are making a request.
  • Actionable: Are you asking for information? Advice? Some resource? Perhaps a contact or referral? Your community will help if you tell them exactly what you want them to do.
  • Real: Make it real. Ask for something you really need. Your request can be big or small, but don’t make a request just to make one.
  • Time-bound: When do you need it? Give your request a due date so everyone knows the time frame within which you need their help.

To learn more about asking for help and supporting your team in asking for help, download Wayne Baker’s free ebook on how to ask for help at work.

Download the Ebook
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