Most organisations today operate in a highly complex matrix structure with multiple reporting lines and different levels of expertise requiring you sometimes to be vast across a number of skills.

This can be overwhelming sometimes especially when you have multi-functional projects and your delivery is dependent on others as you are not able to do most of the tasks on your own. Thing is, the priority level of each task is different from function to function but each action adds up as an essential for you. More importantly, you need not be overwhelmed but have the ability to ask for help , that way, you spend less time struggling.

It is important to have an enabling environment that allows you to function in a way that fosters better collaboration. Asking for help should not be seen as a sign of weakness but rather, recognizing what you are good at and appreciating what someone else’s is good at.  This enables both sides to benefit and gain valuable experience.  The person receiving helps adds nuance and texture to their thinking, overcome cognitive biases and flaws in their logic while at the same time giving someone else an opportunity to shine and validate their knowledge – this could make someone else’s day!

In asking for help, first acknowledge that you don’t have a solution to a task/problem or that you can’t do it alone – be sure to explore possible solutions as your own first step. Remember, no one person can know everything, so allow yourself to be human. It’s also better to build a reputation to be known to give assistance to others. This paves the way for reciprocity and encourages others to reach out without incurring social debts or negative repercussions, making it an admirable trait.  Additionally, ask for help smartly, as a ‘SMART’ request (Why you need it, what you need, When you need it, from who do you need help) is easy to respond to as you never know what people know or how they can help until you ask. Not only will you have the benefit of extra advice, you will also have people to share your successes with.

An enabling work environment makes it easy to ask for help by encouraging the practices and setting the tone and the norms. However, we must take time out to say ‘thank you’ and really mean it to express our gratitude for the help. It’s important to close the loop by letting the other person know how valuable your help was – people appreciate recognition and follow through. On both sides, emotional intelligence, diplomacy, self-awareness and patience are required to avoid damaging consequences to individuals and the organization.

To be successful in today’s work environment, you need to ask for what you need as it can become a powerful tool, if employed strategically – save yourself and others time by asking insightful questions that demonstrate your curiosity, inquisitiveness and your interest in understanding the process and not just performing your step of the cycle. Two heads… Or more…are better than one, strong people ask for help. Avoid muddling through a bad situation on your own, as challenges presents opportunities to cultivate our network and proactively build relationships.

Again, remember to frame the ‘ASK’ properly.




Bamigbaiye-Elatuyi Omotola is a Regional Marketing Manager for West Africa in an FMCG. A firm believer in empowering others for success in the work place as she is a well sought after facilitator on Marketing and Business management. She also manages Workplace Management columns and Consumer Insight columns in magazines published across West Africa as well as volunteering with NGO’s as a child educator.

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