By Larry Freed, Give and Take

Do you take pride in being generous with your time, talent, and expertise but have a hard time asking for help yourself? 

In his book, Give and Take (and in his TED Talk), Adam Grant shared some simple but surprising research: the people who are the most helpful at work are the most successful. Not only that, but generosity also makes people happier, more effective, and more efficient.

But have you ever tried to help someone who didn’t ask for it? It doesn’t work. People need to ask for help in order to give all the “givers” a chance to do their thing. 

The good news is, that asking for help is also incredibly beneficial, both for individuals and for the organizations they work for. In his forthcoming book, All You Have to Do is Ask, Wayne Baker says “a reluctance to ask for help is incredibly limiting and destructive to our careers and lives.” 

Reasons to Ask for Help

According to Baker, some of the benefits of asking for help include: 

    • When employees are willing to ask for help, team cohesion and performance improves. Team members who ask for help boost their creativity, collaboration, and they tend to have a better understanding of the team’s purpose and tasks.
    • Research shows that employee productivity is higher and turnover is lower in companies where employees are supported in asking for and giving help.
    • Employees who ask for help when they need it can help an organization improve operational efficiencies, product quality, and the customer experience.

Who to Ask

If you know who has the answer, you can ask them. But too often, we don’t know who to ask. 

Moreover, sometimes even when we do know who might know, we miss out on a wealth of information and diversity of opinion by going only to those we already know. Adam Grant says that sometimes the very best information comes from someone we don’t know, what he refers to as a weak tie. 

Asking others for help actually makes people like us more and strengthens bonds between colleagues. 

Luckily Steve has set up a network for members of the Senior Living Foresight Community. It’s called Givitas, and it’s a place for senior living professionals to ask for and offer help to one another in a safe environment, where exchanging help is the norm. 

Join Now

What to Ask For

Generally, if you create a safe place for people to ask for help, they will do it. But here are a few ideas to get you started. 

    • An introduction or connection to a colleague you’d like to know
    • A recommendation for a vendor or partner
    • A piece of information needed to complete a project
    • A specific skill or ability that is missing on your team
    • A personal recommendation (local restaurant, babysitter, vacation spot, holiday gift)
    • An idea or brainstorm 
    • A second set of eyes on an important presentation or document 
    • Volunteers to join a project or initiative you are working on
    • Answers to organizational process or policy questions

How to Ask for Help

Many requests are so poorly worded that it’s difficult to respond. According to Dr. Baker,  a well-formulated request is SMART: 

    • Specific
    • Meaningful (why you need it)
    • Action-oriented (ask for something to be done)
    • Real (authentic, not made up)
    • Time-bound (when you need it) 

I encourage you to stretch your comfort level and ask your colleagues for help today. You never know what gem you might get . . . insight, advice, an introduction or connection, an example or a best practice might be just the thing to make your job easier. Senior Living Foresight gives you access to a unique group of colleagues who are dealing with the same challenges . . . a brain trust you can’t find anywhere else. 

Log into Givitas here.