That most important skill is the skill of asking for help, according to new research that author Dr. Wayne Baker highlights in his book, All You Have To Do Is Ask.
“Those who give themselves permission to ask and then ask effectively for help, move faster, achieve better results, and get more recognition for excellence,” explains Baker.
He adds that people who make strategic asks (asking for things you need to succeed) can cultivate breakthroughs, solve problems, share knowledge, and bridge organizational silos.
Baker recommends you make your strategic asks SMART:
- Specific – details trigger people’s memory of what and who they know, and how they can help;
- Meaningful – conveys why the request is important to you, motivates others to respond;
- Action-Oriented – a call-to-action to achieve your goal;
- Realistic – request must be strategically sound, feasible;
- Time-Bound – every request should have a due date.
Typical good, strategic asks include asking for:
- Friendly ear
Baker shares that asking for what we need doesn’t come easily for most of us. So, asking behavior most often must be learned. It requires three steps:
- Determining your goals and needs.
- Translating needs into well-formulated requests.
- Figuring out whom (and how) to ask.
“Good leaders know what they don’t know, and they surround themselves with experts who can fill in the gaps.” says Baker. “Every leader has to have the humility to recognize that their success will be based on choosing the very best people.” And, making strategic asks to those people.
“As a leader, you have to be a role model of the behavior you want. You can’t expect others to ask if you don’t ask for what you need,” adds Baker.
- To further promote a workplace culture where it is psychologically safe for team members to be comfortable asking for help and giving help, Baker recommends you hold daily stand ups:
Daily, team members stand in a circle and, one by one, people tell what they worked on yesterday, what they’re working on today, and what help they need. This normalizes asking. It makes it an expected behavior.
People might make small, safe request at first. But, over time, they will be bolder when they see the tools working and the results they create.
Finally, don’t believe you have to be self-reliant. And dispel the belief that asking for help will make you look weak or incompetent.
Baker’s book provides you a toolkit packed with tips and techniques for how to become better and more confident about mastering the skill of asking.
Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.