How to Ask for Help on Your Projects

ProjectManager.com

There’s nothing wrong with being independent, but there’s nothing wrong with seeking assistance either. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how to ask for help with a project, and why some people don’t ask at all.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference.

when it's okay to ask for help

In Review – How to Ask for Help on Your Projects

Jennifer started by saying that everyone knows what it’s like to need help. Not everyone, though, knows how to ask for help.

There are many scenarios when asking for help can be challenging. Jennifer listed those that are most common:

  • Maybe you’re new to the project and are unfamiliar with protocol.
  • There might be new policies or regulations that you’re unaware of.
  • There’s a new scope to the project that hasn’t been fully explained.
  • If there’s new software, apps, tools or any kind of technology, it can involve a learning curve.
  • Management changes, such as a new boss or team leader, makes asking for help awkward.
  • The vision can change without your knowledge, so you don’t understand the context.

Why Don’t People Ask for Help?

There are many barriers that prevent people from asking for help. While sometimes it might not be appropriate, mostly the hurdles to clear are of your own making. Jennifer listed some of the more obvious ones:

  • You fear that what you’re going to ask is dumb or makes you look weak or lost, as if you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • Not knowing the right questions to ask can stymie the path towards help.
  • The work environment might not be supportive (or even intimating), and questions aren’t tolerated.
  • Maybe you’re new and have no idea who the right person to ask is, or there might not even be anyone available for you to ask.
  • Coworkers and managers might be pressed for time, and it feels as if it would be an imposition to ask them for help.

Related: 5 Signs That You Need an Assistant

How to Ask for Help

There are many reasons why a person doesn’t ask, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ask. There are ways that make it okay to ask for help. Jennifer noted a handful:

  • Start somewhere. Just bring the question to someone: say that you have a question to break the ice, and take it from there.
  • Begin with a specific question. Don’t pad it with a long intro—get right to the point, and add the details afterwards.
  • You can take the initiative and try to answer the question yourself by doing a Google search; maybe there’s a company portal or some other help center to use as a resource, too.
  • Before you have to ask for help, know the people you can approach to ask for help, so when the question arises you have a go-to person.
  • There’s also the idea of trade-off, that is if you help someone then they can help you.

Pro-Tip: Whether you’re on the team or leading it, there are ways to enable your team to help. Draw the team in by planning collaboratively. Make it clear that asking for help is okay, and sharing responsibilities is a good start.

Take it Further: If you work in somewhat of a hostile environment, or just struggle with confidence, then read some tips on how to stand up for yourself at work.

Thanks for watching!

Transcription

Today, we’re talking about how to ask for help on your project. Well, we’ve all been there and here are some scenarios that people encounter where they have questions.

First of all, they could be new to a project, they could be the new person to an existing project or they could be starting a new project.

Maybe there are some new policies or regulations influencing or impacting the project.

There could be some new scope that’s been introduced and maybe hasn’t been explained fully.

There may also be new software, some kind of app, some kind of tools or technology being used for the project.

Also, maybe a new country, several people travel for work on their projects, and they go to different countries or different areas of a country, maybe a new culture or even a different language.

Also may encounter a new boss, a new manager or leader.

And sometimes with projects or initiatives, the vision changes, so when the vision changed that invokes a lot of questions.

So why don’t people ask?

Well, I think the number one reason most people don’t ask is because they’re afraid. They’re afraid that they may be looking dumb or weak or lost.

Number two. They don’t know the questions to ask. Sometimes when there are things that are new, you just don’t really have a bearing or a reference to even know the questions.

Also, they work in an intimidating environment, sometimes there is a situation where with the environment, people feel intimidated to ask. Maybe they’re made to feel wrong or crazy or dumb or weak or lost.

Number four. This is new to everyone, so there’s really no one to ask.

And number five. Maybe they’re pressed for time and they have to make quick decisions so there’s no time to ask.

So, how to ask? Well, first of all, I want to make it clear that it’s okay to ask for help. So here are just a few tips and reminders.

Number one. Start somewhere. If you feel like you don’t know what question to ask, just start somewhere and say, “Hey, I have a question.” And just pause. At least get yourself in a discussion with someone to let them know that you do have questions.

And therefore, you can work it from there. Maybe you say, “I don’t really understand the scope of this project. I don’t really understand why we’re doing this or how we’re going to get there.” But at least get yourself started.

Number two. State your specific question and then fill in the blanks. Sometimes people go into these elaborate stories, talking about so many different things and the person listening or the person you’re trying to ask the question to…they don’t really understand the question.

The question is the last thing you ask. So we recommend you flip it to the front. So ask your question, then, maybe fill in details if they’re necessary.

Number three. Take initiative. Do some work. Like right now there are tools like Google. You can do some research on your own. Maybe, there’s a company portal or project portal or some kind of help section or maybe even form. There’re a lot of online forms these days where you can go look. At least have somewhere to start.

Number four. Know your go-to people. A lot of times in groups, organizations, and projects, they’re the people who just seem to have…they have the pulse on everything. So know who to go to for certain things.

Also, be willing to trade off. I submit that sometimes someone’s weakness is someone else strength. So you can say, “Well, I can help you with this area, if you can help me with that one.” And sometimes that works out really well.

So the important thing to remember is that it’s okay to ask for help. And if you need some additional resources to go to for help, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.

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