There is a common perception that asking for help at work is a sign of weakness. People starting their careers are particularly shy of reaching out for help because they want to prove themselves. 

But the truth is everybody needs some help. And asking for it is not a sign of weakness but one of great strength. It shows self-awareness, the ability to perceive and learn, and good judgment. 

Still, it isn’t easy to seek help. You might not want to disrupt someone else’s work to complete your own, you might not want to begin from scratch, or you might not want your efforts to be invalidated. 

As a young professional, offering up your work for someone else to judge can be an anxiety-inducing experience.

Learning when to ask for help is of paramount importance and a big part of a young professional’s growth and development. It can be difficult to gauge when to ask for help but here are some clear-cut instances where it is necessary to do so.

1. When You Are Unsure About What You’re Doing

It is not uncommon to be unsure when you are new to the world of work. If you are working on a project that requires skills, knowledge, and processes that you are unfamiliar with, do not hesitate to approach someone within your team for clarification and assistance.

Trying to navigate a new challenge by yourself that you do not fully understand will only waste your time and your team’s as well. Ask for help before you begin your work and set yourself up for success.

2. When You Have Too Much To Do

This is a situation that people will experience throughout their careers. Many professionals have a tendency to say “yes” to all work that comes their way without admitting that they may be feeling overwhelmed. This often leads to exhaustion and burnout.

It’s ok and necessary to ask for help. Senior team members can help you prioritize, teach you how to manage tasks, and even assist you by taking some work off your plate. Learning how to effectively manage your time and prioritize your tasks are skills that need to be learned by most people and are not developed organically. If you try to do it all by yourself, you will exhaust yourself and that will greatly compromise the quality of your work.

3. When You Make A Mistake

Everyone makes mistakes at every stage of their careers. It’s an intrinsic part of being human. The truth is that it doesn’t matter that you made a mistake; what matters is your response. The worst course of action is to try and cover it up so that nobody notices it. More times than not, this will make the situation worse, and being embarrassed by their mistakes is what causes people to fall into this trap.

Learning from mistakes by admitting to them and asking for help to resolve them is a hallmark of maturity both professionally and personally. Part of being in a team means that your colleagues are there to help you succeed and not bring you down for the mistakes you made. So know that you can rely on them in such situations.

4. When You Need Expertise Or Skills Different From Your Own

Working on a project start from start to finish often requires skills that you do not have or are yet to be developed. The project may align with your natural talent or what you are good at but that does not guarantee that the end product will be something that showcases your value, especially if you alone try to tackle aspects of the project that you are unfamiliar with.

Ask for help. You are surrounded by people from different fields and specializations. As a professional, it is your job to produce the best possible work that you can, not do as much work as you can and produce less. Asking for help in such a situation is a great opportunity to develop new skills and incorporate different perspectives.

Asking for help may not be easy, but it is absolutely essential. Never hesitate to ask for help and seek your colleagues' talents. This will foster a collaborative environment and will raise the quality of your work to the best it can be, and before you know it, your colleagues will start asking you for help. 

Tariq Hazarika is Manager, Operations at Harappa Education. He did a self-designed major in Anthropology, Journalism, and Gender and Women’s Studies, from Knox College in Illinois. He worked in AI research straight out of college and has been working with digital products ever since. 


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