Jodi Glickman is the author of “Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say It” and she offers readers a step by step guide to success by saying the right things. Glickman offers scripts for getting things done at work, asking for help and managing priorities. They’re good scripts; as a manager, I can vouch for her expertise in guiding workers toward more successful outcomes. Here’s her formula for success when you have to ask for help.
Step 1: Start with what you know. Summarize what’s working right now and the progress you’ve made (“We’ve gotten off to a great start on Project A, and we have most of the research completed.”) Then state what the current roadblock is (“But we’re having trouble reaching the senior managers to set up interviews.”) In two or three brief sentences, you’ve told your manager what’s working – and what’s not.
Step 2: State your intended direction. This is where you propose a solution (or two) to the roadblock. Simply asking what you should do is not an optimal strategy, according to Glickman. It makes you seem less competent and less independent. Instead, try something like this: “I think we’d have better success is you reached out via email with some information about why this project is important.” Or this: “I think we may have better luck if we developed an electronic survey that the senior managers could answer on their own schedule.” Your manager will appreciate having two solutions to consider and choose between.
Step 3: Ask for feedback / confirmation. This is where you get buy in before implementing the solution. It can be as simple as “Does that make sense?” or “Do you agree?” Glickman believes that this combines the best of both worlds: it positions you as a proactive problem solver and a team player/consensus builder.
As always, her Great on the Job approach includes moving the project forward, what she calls “forward momentum.” Glickman advises closing each brief meeting you have with the next steps as you see them. “Great – I’ll draft the survey questions and send them to you for approval. We should be able to deliver the survey via email within a week.”
Asking for help never looked so professional and competent. You can’t miss with this formula.