Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: I joined a fully remote team in the financial planning industry late last year. This is my first full-time position since graduating from college, and I’m feeling overwhelmed. When I meet with my manager, she doesn’t give me a complete picture of what she expects me to do. She’s usually multi-tasking in our one-on-one’s and jumping from one topic to another and back again. When we’re in team meetings, I often get loaded with junior admin tasks that were not part of my job description. I’m having a hard time figuring out when to speak up for myself about my workload and how to admit that I need more clarity from my boss. In short, how do I get better at asking for help at work?
Answer: Congratulations on your college graduation and landing your first post-college role! Navigating soft skills like how to ask for help is one of the many things you’ll need to build your toolkit and progress in your career. Step 1 is admitting to yourself that you need help. Step 2 is understanding that asking for help is actually a strength, and not a weakness.
Since you’ve posed this question in the month of January, take advantage of the opportunity to let your manager and colleagues know that you’ve taken time to reflect on what you would like to improve on at work. Getting better at asking for help is one thing you think will benefit you and the team as a whole. Here are a few strategies to try:
1. Get clear about what’s been holding you back.
Ask yourself , “What am I afraid will happen if I ask for help?” Once you’ve answered this question, probe deeper by asking, “And what would be the dire consequence of that?” Sit with these questions and reflect on what internal barriers or beliefs that may have been holding you back.
2. Excavate the source of your limiting beliefs.
If you’re new to the world of work and your team and/or manager is new to working in a fully remote environment, it makes sense that you have lots of unanswered questions. But, if you’re naturally a “helper” or you pride yourself on being a “self-starter”, you may have little experience asking for help or you think that you have to fake it ‘til you make it. Stepping back to think about how you developed these attributes can help you look at them more objectively.
3. Practice with some trial balloons.
Before you jump back into your next one-on-one with your manager or join a Teams meeting, jot down a few questions and keep them handy – to keep you from falling back into your habit of not asking for help. Try, “Can I brainstorm with you for five minutes?” or “Would you be willing to take a look at my proposal and share your feedback with me?”
The truth is, most people are very generous if you ask. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are willing to learn and improve on your ability to contribute to the team.