Human Resources

Asking for Help Is OK—But Does Your Culture Reflect That?

Learning is a process, and it should be OK to ask for help—but many in the workplace are reluctant to do so. Today’s Daily Advisor has tips on adjusting the cultural aspects of asking for help in an article by Jo Eismont, a social media and Web editor with years of experience in the learning and development industry.

Eismont is social media and web editor for Insights Learning and Development.

It is one of the hardest parts of corporate life: when we have to admit that we’re struggling with a project, a people issue, or a task we’ve been allocated. Nobody in the workplace wants to be seen as weak, unsure, lacking in knowledge, or unable to deal with a difficulty by themselves.

But, as HR professionals, you can begin to change people’s perceptions of asking for help and can show them that, actually, it is often a sign of great self-awareness, of dedication to getting the job done right, and of courage. It’s just all about the approach you take.


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Know Who You’re Dealing With

There is no situation so difficult that it can’t be improved with just a little self-awareness. So, when faced with employees who need to ask for help, encourage them to consider the dynamic they have with their manager. For instance, an Insights Discovery Personal Profile will explain employees’ preferred style of communication and how they face difficult situations. This knowledge will go a long way, particularly if their manager also has a Profile.

You can coach these people through how they might approach their manager to appeal to his or her preferred communication style. Perhaps the manager likes to have all the information up front, in which case the employee should do all of his or her homework before opening the conversation. Or maybe the manager likes to talk problems through, so the employee should be prepared for an in-depth conversation and should recognize that it’s in the spirit of problem-solving, not interrogation.


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Be a Role Model

Be very clear that asking for help is, in fact, a strength. Knowing when, how, and to whom to turn when you’ve hit a brick wall is a sign of a self-aware, strong individual. Asking for help also opens the doors for others to do so; there may be more junior members of the team who are suffering in silence but who seize the chance to speak up once they perceive it as the cultural norm of the team or organization.

Encourage employees to be cultural rebels; just because asking for help is not the “done” thing right now, that doesn’t mean it’s intentional or that it works for everyone. You may even encourage employees to posit the idea of potluck meetings where everyone shares—without judgement—something they could use support with. The team climate will be vastly improved by cultivating a more open, honest environment where it’s acceptable to admit vulnerability.

We’ll present more advice from Eismont in tomorrow’s Advisor.

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