How to ask your boss to call you back

Im not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point in my career, I started to believe help was a four-letter word. OK, well, it technically is, but you know what I mean. Somew

How to ask your boss to call you back

Im not exactly sure when it happened, but at some point in my career, I started to believe help was a four-letter word. OK, well, it technically is, but you know what I mean. Somewhere, I had picked up the idea that asking for help was tantamount to admitting weakness, and ultimately, failure.

It wasnt until I had a team of my own to manage that I realized that theres real value in admitting Hey! I need help. I had a few employees who were in their first jobs out of college, and, to put it bluntly, they had a lot to learn. I didnt expect them to know everythingyet, somehow, they always seemed to think that I did, and, by consequence, that they shouldnt ask questions. It rarely ended well.

What I learned from the experience was that asking for help is a delicate endeavorbut when done right, itll get the job done faster or better. Plus, chances are, everyone will gain valuable experience and ultimately strengthen his or her base for a successful career.

After spending some time gauging my own reactions when my team approached me for assistanceor didntIve been able to pull out a few key tips that I now use whenever I need a little help myself.

1. Try, Then Pry

The first step to asking for help is to make sure you actually need it. In other words, explore all of the possible solutionsincluding the obvious ones. It only takes one time for your manager to ask you, Why didnt you try X? to realize how much it pays off to check the simple solutions off your list.

I once dated a firefighter, and he imparted a piece of wisdom that I keep in mind to this day. He was describing the procedure of running into a burning house, and I interrupted (wide-eyed, of course) to ask if he had to break the door down to get in. He responded, Try first, then pry. He went on to describe howin what I imagine must be part of some hazing ritualthe crew let him throw his shoulder at a door for what seemed like an eternity before someone simply turned the doorknob to open it.

The moral of the story? Before you start banging your shoulderor headagainst a door, make sure youve tried to open it the old-fashioned way first. It wont always work, but youll want to be damn sure you know it doesnt before your boss tries it herself.

2. Dont Be a Martyr

While theres definitely something to be said about trying to resolve an issue yourself first, torturing yourself for hoursor daysbefore finally admitting you need help is almost never productive. I remember staying in the office until well past 1 AM one time, trying to resolve a particularly nasty issue, and although fatigue and frustration had been clouding my mind for hours, I still felt it was important that someoneeveryoneknew how hard I was working to solve the problem.

As I quickly learned, this didnt actually earn me any points with anyone. While managers (myself included) appreciate dedication and diligence, we loathe inefficiency. If your boss sees you beating yourself up over something, shes more likely to be thinking, Why didnt you come to me sooner? rather than view you as an industrious and dedicated employee.

The trick here is knowing when its time to suck it up, swallow your pride, and admit youre stuck. My general rule of thumb is basically the "Three Strikes" rule. If I cant figure something out after Ive exhausted at least three other solutions on my own, its time to admit I need a little inspiration.

3. Prepare a Menu of Questions or Options

Now, when you know you need to ask for help, dont just go knocking on your managers door to surrender. The best thing you can do is to come armed with a few potential solutions (even if you have no idea where to start). This not only shows that youve thought through the issue on your own first, but also that youre not asking for a handoutyoure trying to get the job done together. Plus, giving your boss a menu of options enables her to quickly assess your ideas, and, if needed, come up with a few of her own.

With this approach, youll effectively turn what couldve been a cry for help into a collaborative session with a senior member of your teamand thats always a good thing.

As Ive discovered, asking for assistance can be a powerful tool if you employ it strategically. Keep these tips in mind when you find yourself a little over your head, and youll guarantee your manager and colleagues wont be uttering any four-lettered words when you need their help.

Photo of co-workers talking courtesy of Shutterstock.

Updated 6/19/2020Jennifer Winter is a freelance writer, editor and career consultant. She translates her 14-years of corporate combat experience to help others navigate their own careers, and become advocates for their own success. Need help negotiating that raise or writing the perfect email to your boss? Jennifers your girl. Find out more about her services on her blog, FearLessJenn or follow her on Twitter @fearlessjenn.More from Jennifer Winter

Video liên quan