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Turn mules into active team players

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Workplace Communication

You need to get colleagues in other departments to help you tackle projects, but they rarely seem interested. It’s the same pattern: You ask for help and they either dither or refuse.

Here’s how to guide them to become more willing team players:

Trade expertise. Always look for ways to help them. Make deposits in the “favor bank” on a regular basis so that when you need a withdrawal, you’re in good shape. Example: You need a technician to help you install new computers, but he’s not responsive. You know he loves to play the stock market, so you give him your investment newsletters and pass along stock tips.

Show you care. Barking orders at harried peers won’t endear you to them. But if you take time to get to know them, they may feel more motivated in responding to your requests. Take key colleagues to lunch. Invite them to join you on field-office visits. Initiate cross-departmental committees and ask them to participate.

Expect a “yes.” The way you ask for help can influence the answer. Assume people want to contribute. Expect them to nod and say, “Sure, I’ll do that for you.”

If you fear they’ll resist or find an excuse, that will affect how you ask them. You might pose a negative request such as, “Is there any chance you can do this?” That makes it easy for them to say no.

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