Why won’t anyone accept my offers to help?

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Question: "What do you do when you offer to help everybody in the office and no one will give you a chance to show them what you can do? For example, my manager asked me to do a simple table.  After I did it, she remarked, ‘I didn’t know you knew how to that.’ Should I just not offer to help?  It is a no win situation if they keep refusing. Thanks for letting me blow off some steam." —Frustrated

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa October 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I think it’s hard for people to “let go” of some of their tasks. As someone else mentioned, they are afraid that someone else might not do as good of a job as they would — or they think it would take longer to explain how to do something, than it would to do it themselves.

As you notice things that you can help with, keep suggesting that you’d be glad to learn how to do that task. As people learn what you can do (AND that you will do a good job!), they will likely trust you to do more and more things. Let them know it’s helpful for your job growth to learn new things, and emphasize that it will free up their time, too. Good luck!

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Susan October 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I agree with Amanda, it’s about relationship building.

If it’s not working to ask managers/coworkers if they need YOUR help, maybe you can tell them you need THEIRS. Maybe you could say, I’d really like a chance to gain some more experience by doing some more challenging work… do you have any projects you could let me contribute to? (Since you’re good at doing charts, you could show the one you did for your boss and ask if there are any other reports or powerpoint presentations that could be enhanced with some side by side comparisons charts that you could create.)

I say this based on a past experience. When I career switched to work in an entry-level position for a congressman, I wanted to do more. I asked the AA if he would help ME by allowing me to gain some experience helping the legislative staff write or edit a press release (something I had experience in from a previous job). People like to help others…and he helped me. There was one LA who wasn’t a very good writer. So I got to rewrite some of his work. It allowed me to learn more about those legislative issues and gave me some better experience to put on my resume. He also let me be the one to train/manage the interns. Both those things were better things to put on my resume than the lower level work I spent most of my time doing.
Good luck.

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T Christian September 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Use a different approach. “May I watch that process, I would like to take it off of your hands to give you more time to prepare for your meetings and answer your emails.”

Or you can try, I’ve watching you complete so many tasks, the Jones account, I pretty know what to do; I’ll take care of it next month for you.

Finally, watch the Associate perform a particular task, once you figure the ends and outs; ask if you can shadow them the next time. After you shadow, find a way to do it better and present the solution in a humble way.

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Amanda September 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm

At a previous job, people were that way with me at first. But every time I got a project and proved myself, there was a little more trust built. Eventually, I had more projects than time! One of the ways I got those first few projects was to find them myself. When I realized that asking wasn’t getting me anywhere, I looked for opportunities. I would find a process that needed improving, propose my solutions to my boss, and complete the project. This built momentum from there.

Sometimes people are afraid to hand off their work – they feel no one can do it as well as them. But as you build relationships with your co-workers and look for ways to tell them HOW you can help, they will look to you more.

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