4 Ways Asking for Help at Work Can Land You a Promotion, According to a Career Coach

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Ekua Cant206
Career Transitions & Career Change Coach
April 19, 2024 at 10:14PM UTC

It’s a new year, and you're excited about working towards your career goals for 2021. How easy do you find it to ask for help? Are you plagued with fear, worry or doubt? Do you believe that it’ll make you seem weak and unable to cope? 

I’ve been there myself and know what it feels like first hand to be worried about asking for help. When I was Project Manager working for a public sector organization in London, I felt drained, anxious and worried about admitting I was struggling with one particular aspect of a project. It brought me into a mild depression. I didn’t want anyone to think that I couldn’t cope or didn’t belong there. For a while, I carried on as best as could, trying not to show that I was desperate to resolve this problem that was becoming an emotional burden. 

At the point that my mental health began to suffer, it was time to do something about it. Once I decided to take the leap and ask for help, it made me feel better and resolved the problem. 

I want you to know that asking for help is not something to fear. It is something to master and can help you advance in your career. The more courageous you are in developing your ability to ask for help, the more opportunities you give yourself to develop and build the skills you need to grow. 

1. Understand that your boss isn’t the No. 1 person to go to for help.

You might think that your boss is the best person to ask for help. Before you do, consider if someone else within your team or that company would be better suited to help. Search the internet and see if there's anyone that has the knowledge that you're seeking. Additionally, look where team or company knowledge is stored. You may find that someone else has documented how to resolve the problem you are seeking. If so, read their document and then reach out to them to see if they can help you. 

2. Use the D.A.T.A. Process. 

Don’t Panic!: Take a moment to breathe. Don’t respond straight away, take a moment to think and gain clarity on how you're going to resolve the problem.

Assess: Assess what you do know, where you could find help, and who could provide it.

Try to resolve the problem on your own: Attempt to resolve the problem on your own and demonstrate your willingness to be proactive. When you approach someone for their help, let them know what action you’ve already taken to resolve the issue. 

Ask for help: Check for help guides or knowledge articles. Identify potential people inside your company or outside of your company that could help.  

3. Ask your professional network to identify someone with experience in your field and who has solved that problem before.

Your professional network is also a resource for you to ask for help. You can share the issue that you need help with trusted people in your network and get recommendations on people to approach who have been through that problem and have shared how to resolve it publicly with online resources or a book. Someone in your network may also be willing to provide advice or become a potential mentor. 

4. Be prepared to give help and to reciprocate.

It can be a scary thing to muster the courage to ask for help! Offer your help to other women in your network. If you've gotten help from someone in your network, why not share that knowledge or offer to help others with your knowledge or experience? By assisting others, you can help them progress and succeed in their career — and hopefully, they'll reciprocate and help you succeed in the future.

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