When Should You Ask for Help at Work?
Some people are built to never ask for help. Their pride may prevent them from ever reaching out a hand in need. Or, they may just really have their act together to the point they get through work and life without ever crying “Uncle.”
But being too stubborn to ask for help when you’re not sure what you’re doing at work could ultimately affect your performance and the teams you’re trying to help. Here’s how to know when it’s right to ask for help at work.
Hello, I’m Completely Lost
It happens. You may have missed the memo or the project you’re working on could be outside the scope of your personal experience. If you’re in a position where you don’t understand the goals of the project you’re working on and the steps in how to get there, it’s time to reach out to someone in the office to seek some assistance and clarification. Why in the world would you torture yourself and waste your time trying to figure out what’s going on? This is especially true if you’re new to the company. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and admit you’re a little lost. It’s better than wasting time going down the wrong path.
Suggested way to ask for help: “Hey, sorry to bother you, but I was hoping you could help me figure out the details on this project. Could we find some time to sit down and go over it so I’m sure we’re on the same page?”
My Plate is Overflowing
If you find yourself overworked and bogged down, it’s time to ask for help. You may have over committed to all the cool projects coming down the pipeline. Or, you may find that one project got too big too fast and you have to reprioritize. No matter the issue, you must recognize when it is time to say that you are buried by your work. Saying you’ve reached your limit is no crime; everyone has limits to what they can do in a day. If you don’t ask for help now, you’ll likely miss deadlines or turn in shoddy work. Now is the time to delegate to other members or your team or go to your boss and ask for help.
Suggested way to ask for help: “I hate to do this, but I need help. I’m totally overwhelmed and need help with a couple parts of this project. If you have any extra time, is there any way you can help me out?”
Oops I Made a Mistake
To err is human, right? You may be a superhero, but the truth is everyone makes mistakes in their lives and in the job. That’s why it’s important to own the mistake, ask for help if needed, and fix the problem. Don’t think sweeping the issue under the rug is the best approach. It can be humbling and embarrassing to admit your mistake, but do it now before that little snowball turns into an avalanche.
Suggested way to ask for help: “I feel terrible, but I completely messed up. I’m sorry for the confusion, but can you help me with XYZ to get us back on track?”
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