Asking for help just isn’t cool. Or manly. Or womanly. At least that is how it seems, since we can be so loathe to do it. Maybe we’re afraid to be seen as weak or unable to go it alone. Asking for help is actually a great thing – and can be good for the helper, too.

How and when do you ask for help?

Do it right away. When you receive an assignment, ask lots of questions to figure out what outcomes are desired, who needs to be involved and what you don’t know how to do. Assemble a team that will fill in the gaps in your knowledge, experience or connections.

Don’t do it at the last minute. The deadline is looming, and the project is nowhere close to finished. So we call in favors or even beg a little to dig ourselves out of the hole. We may be forgiven for doing this once, but repeat offenders will get a reputation and help won’t come running the second or third time.

Be specific. Communicate what you really need. Sometimes it’s advice, and other times it’s a commitment of time and energy. Specify what you what the person to accomplish, the context for the work and even suggestions about how you’d like it done, if necessary. By all means, don’t downplay the time commitment required.

Keep the other person’s WIIFM in mind. WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me?” While many people will assist and expect nothing in return, we still need to consider ways in which helping benefits the helper. Will it give her exposure to management, hone a new skill or give her valuable experience? Refrain from asking people to come to your aid if doing so provides no value for them.

Always, always, always share your gratitude and credit. Saying thanks isn’t enough. Make sure that others know who contributed to success. You’ll build a network of loyal colleagues who will be more than happy to rally around you next time.

Think about the last time you helped someone out. While there may be some helping horror stories, most of these experiences are positive. So, go ahead. Ask for some assistance, and make the right choices along the way, so it’s a win-win for you and your colleagues.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!