It was one of the worst meetings in Greg’s project management career.
“We are slipping by a month,” Greg said to his leader Kavita.
“How long have you known about this?” Kavita asked.
“Um, two weeks. I’ve been working hard to pull it back in but wasn’t able to do.”
“And I’m just finding out about this now? Why didn’t you ask for help?”
Greg stammered. “I thought I could handle it on my own.”
“This is really bad, Greg. We have customers relying on us to deliver on time. Sue, you work with Greg to see where we’re at and see if we can pull this thing back in. Hopefully it’s not worse than a month.”
“Will do, Kavita,” Sue said.
“Good, I need to northwind my management and let them know we may have a problem. Get back to me by end of day with your assessment. Clear?”
“Clear,” Greg said as he looked down, avoiding eye contact with Kavita.
“I’m disappointed you didn’t ask for help,” Kavita said as she left the room.
Asking for help. Something that by nature we know how to do. Whether it’s in the form of a baby crying, a kindergartener needing his shoe tied, or a teenager needing a parent’s help with a flat tire, asking for help is something each and every one of us has experience with. Yet in a professional setting, asking for help can be viewed as a sign of weakness; something that could reflect negatively on a person’s ability to deliver.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Asking for help, when done effectively, not only ensures successful delivery but demonstrates a follower’s maturity and wisdom to use any and all levers available to secure delivery. There’s definitely a methodology to asking for help that both the leader and follower need to follow if their partnership is to flourish.
Before we go further, there are a few principles a follower needs to embrace to make this partnership of asking for help work well:
Asking for help means both the leader and follower have responsibilities for the partnership to work well. Take heed of the following points to ensure both are doing their part.
For the follower:
For the leader:
Effectively asking for help not only paves the way to getting things done more expediently but also positively impacts the leader-follower relationship. Followers, learn how to effectively ask for help. Leaders, respect the partnership and follow through.
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