But it is not an easy process. Requesting help is all too often seen as a sign of weakness, especially if you have learned to shoulder heavy responsibilities alone and are reluctant to add to the existing pressures faced by your colleagues. Now is the time to take a fresh look at your doubts and misgivings. In her book Reinforcements, author Heidi Grant explores how to ask for help in a positive, relaxed and non-coercive manner to obtain great results for all concerned.
Asking for help is a strength
In the past, mangers were expected to stay on top of their projects, centralizing information and making decisions alone, without the need for outside help. But nowadays this old cliché of the omniscient leader is obsolete – and has even become dangerous, given the complexities of today’s work environments. Taking responsibility for everything is debilitating for leaders and counter-productive for organizations. There are several reasons why asking for help now earns you leadership points:
1 – You demonstrate a desire to progress. The fact that you do not feel qualified to solve every problem by yourself is not a reason to feel ashamed; on the contrary, it is excellent news! It means you venture outside your comfort zone and look for help to develop new skills.
2 – It shows you are wisely managing your most precious resource: your time.</strong< A 2010 study by Lexis Nexis of 1,700 executives in the US, China, South Africa, the UK and Australia revealed that over half their time was spent receiving and managing information instead of using it to carry out their work. And that was back in 2010. Today, in the age of omnipresent data, no one is capable of processing daily information flows all alone. You need help sorting and analyzing it to give you the overview you need to fulfill your true role: focusing on the strategic aspects.
3 – It shows you know how to leverage diverse points of view, which is a valuable asset for your organization. According to The Great Work Study, a survey conducted in 2015 by the OC Tanner Institute, 72% of employees rewarded by their companies for their work admitted to having sought advice or help from people outside their immediate circle. This support gave them new perspectives for solving problems – one they would not have come up with by themselves – and resulted in more creative solutions and improved results.
4 – You show you value your co-workers. By asking for their help, you show others that you have confidence in their ideas and skills. Requesting assistance is a very strong form of recognition, and, therefore, an excellent management practice.
Why asking for help is hard
Why does the idea of asking for help put you off so much? Grant argues that humans hate being in a position of asking for support for various irrational psychological reasons, rooted in the way the cerebral cortex functions. She reports that asking for help simultaneously activates five major aspects of social pain: