Help me, Rhonda

Help me, Rhonda

Mar 01, 2008

Debbie Allaben Gair
Q When I ask my co-workers for help, they seem receptive but never follow through. What should I do?

First, ensure your requests are reasonable, says Debbie Allaben Gair, CVPM, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and President of Bridging the Gap, a business geared to helping people work together more effectively, in Sparta, Mich. Is the team member capable and available to help you? Does your position allow you to delegate? Do you allow others to comfortably state their ability and desire to help? Are you respectful? All of these factors determine whether others will follow through on tasks you delegate, she says.

"Perhaps your team members can't say no, even when their plates are full," Gair says. Be patient and kind, and show concern for what others can accomplish, she says. She also recommends assigning tasks face-to-face. And read team members' body language when you ask, "Can you accomplish this?" To encourage an honest assessment, ask them to respond later, suggest you'll solicit someone else, or offer to help them so they're prepared to handle the task. "When we feel our co-workers care about us, we're more likely to care about them and more willing to help," Gair says. If the co-worker accepts the task, determine a deadline and follow up.

Finally, remember everyone forgets sometimes. So probe to find out whether your request got lost in the chaos of emergencies and daily chores. A gentle reminder may help, Gair says.