Should we help our colleagues first? | Stiernholm Consulting

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08 Apr

Should we help our colleagues first?


Datum: 2015-04-08 12:00

When col­leagues comes to us for help, shouldn’t we always help them? If he is stuck and does not know what to do, should we not be there for him and help him get mov­ing again? If we set aside what we are doing for just one moment to answer her ques­tion, would this not ben­e­fit all of us? It is not very friend­ly or help­ful to oth­ers to close the door and make your­self unavail­able for long peri­ods of time, now is it?

No man is an island and we need each oth­er to succeed.

From time to time I hear peo­ple who rea­son along these lines. I am inclined to dis­agree with them. And more often than so, I meet peo­ple who do agree with that iso­lat­ing your­self is some­times the best thing to do, but who still feel bad about doing so. In my opin­ion, it is a shame they feel this way.

Why? Well, let us take a look at this way of reasoning.

Do we all get help if every­one helps every­one else first?
As we are sit­ting at our desk work­ing, we can­not know in advance when a col­league (or a client, for that mat­ter), will need our help. Sud­den­ly the phone will ring or there is some­one at your door. If we have time to do all the addi­tion­al things oth­ers bring you as well as what we orig­i­nal­ly had to do, we nev­er have to turn some­one down (or say yes to help­ing them, but that you will do it lat­er). I still have not met any­one who this applies to. On the con­trary, most peo­ple have too much to do already.

But, what if every­one helped every­one else first, wouldn’t we also receive the assis­tance we need to do our tasks as well when­ev­er we need­ed it? Well, is this how things real­ly work? If we already have too much to do, and then choose to pri­or­i­tize work­ing on some­one else’s task first, then our own tasks and work is delayed. If we spend so much time being avail­able for oth­ers and help­ing our col­leagues, you might ask your­self how much our tasks real­ly can be con­sid­ered ours”.

Use your goals to help you focus
When I help clients one-to-one with sort­ing their to-do-tasks when their work­load is too heavy, we use the goals which my mentee is respon­si­ble for attain­ing in the busi­ness as a ven­ture point. The tasks which unques­tion­ably con­tribute to the achieve­ment of these goals are hence the most impor­tant ones to complete.

And as it just so hap­pens, the goals also help us deter­mine if and when it is jus­ti­fied to close the door and make our­selves unavail­able to oth­ers, and when it is not.

Hence do this

  1. Take out your goals so that you have them in front of you

  2. Study them close­ly and deter­mine what they actu­al­ly con­sist of

  3. Do they only mea­sure dif­fer­ent aspects of the work you do as you are help­ing your col­leagues? If so, it sounds as if you are right to help oth­ers first at all times since the tasks you then per­form are what mat­ters most to the attain­ment of the goals you are respon­si­ble for. The help you pro­vide oth­ers with is what your most impor­tant tasks are com­prised of and you are right to pri­or­i­tize these regard­less how urgent (or not) they are.

  4. But, if your goals con­cern more than (or not at all) liv­ing up to your col­leagues’ expec­ta­tions of receiv­ing your assis­tance when­ev­er they require it, you are very right to say no to their request (or yes, but lat­er) that you com­plete tasks (or pro­vide them with assis­tance), since this would mean that you do not pri­or­i­tize tasks which are impor­tant to you and the goals you are work­ing to achieve.

Say­ing no to some­one means say­ing yes to yourself
Learn­ing to from time to time say no, not now, but pos­si­bly lat­er” or some­thing along those lines when some­one comes ask­ing you for help, is nec­es­sary for you to com­plete what­ev­er you are expect­ed to do in a sus­tain­able and pleas­ant way with­out over-work­ing or feel­ing stressed.

If you always help oth­ers first, when will you have time to work with your own tasks enough to know what you need help from oth­ers with? If your goals do not only con­cern being the inter­nal sup­port-func­tion in your com­pa­ny but you still find your­self want­i­ng to pri­or­i­tize other’s need for your help, per­haps you should ask your­self if you have set your goals accu­rate­ly? Being respon­si­ble for goals which are attained by com­plet­ing tasks which you sel­dom allow your­self to com­plete with­out being dis­turbed, is to make way for trou­ble. That would be a pity.

What is your method?
In spite of know­ing all this, you might feel reluc­tant towards telling some­one you would rather not be dis­turbed at the moment. This is why I would like to know how you man­age to with­out effort and a bad con­science com­mu­ni­cate to your col­leagues that you are not recep­tive to their quick ques­tions for the next lit­tle while? Do tell. Leave a comment. 

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