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Asking for Help

When we lead and manage a team, whether we are business owners, run a department or just supervise a group of people in our business, we are on show. Part of our make up ensures that we 'lead from the front' and take all that the world throws at us - after all, that's what we are paid for - isn't it? This is where many managers struggle, with the pride factor. And pride can cause many pitfalls because we might feel obliged to battle on fending off every issue that comes our way, day after day. Or, we could ask for help sometimes. You see asking for help makes a difference to your people in a number of wonderful ways, makes your life a whole lot easier and sets the scene for a lot less fire-fighting to go on.

Asking for help literally by saying, 'Julie, I need your help' is a strong request. It tugs at the emotions and whatever relationship you have had in the past with the person in question, you now have their buy in. Because someone asking for 'help' is a strong appeal they will find had to resist. This works in all sorts of directions. You can use this up the 'line' too. Asking your own boss for 'help' is not usually heard as a desperate cry from someone incapable.

You may well be pleasantly surprised at the buzz your boss gets from it as well as you will when people ask it of you. The appeal for help comes with some caution. You have to behave yourself if you are appealing to this level of emotion. It is vital that you show trust and respect as a whole to all in your team (and beyond).

You can't play the 'I need your help' card without ties yourself. And you can't play it too often. You can even use this appeal with groups. Imagine a CEO asking, even via an e-mail newsletter that 'I need your help' to thousands of his people. It still has a ties in (as long as the conditions in the previous paragraph are met). That CEO really does have to mean it, and show that he means it, especially from a distance.

So all interactions one-to-one he has with his people must demonstrate the qualities so vital to maintain the relationship the appeal starts to create. Why does this work? Here are a few of the reasons:- 1. It appeals to the emotional side of anyone who hears it. 2. It builds a belief that the manager is a real, breathing human being and therefore feels the same sort of thing that mere mortals do. 3.

It builds the confidence of those being asked that they are capable of helping at their boss's level. 4. Being asked to 'help' expands capabilities too, as it often works best where those asked have a strength that the manager might not have.

5. Being asked to 'help' raises awareness of contributions that might be made alongside the 'day job' and that awareness helps things get fixed before the boss becomes aware of it. 6. The manager has more time for the constructive things in their work as the help given takes them away from the minutiae of their work. 7. The occasional use, spread across a team, helps generate team spirit.

When asked to 'help', people are more likely to:- a. Ask people themselves as well b. Recognise that help may be needed before being asked - and not just by the boss 8. The manager asking becomes more capable of seeing themselves honestly and builds their awareness of their weaknesses and the strengths around them.

9. The manager/employee dialogue opens up - the heart of all business relationship building. Conversations spring up where in the past there may have been none. 10.

Culture shifts from an isolating 'I'm all right, Jack' to a supportive team-based success culture - one which is more sustainable at a core level. Saying those words, 'I need your help' is a constructive, honest and developmental way for organisations to evolve. The place to start is a manager asking those words, just once, to set that ball rolling. You will be surprised at the benefits you will see.

2005-6 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website,

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