Top Five Reasons To Ask For Help When Working in I.T.

"If you learn nothing else from training, it is very important to learn that your limits are seldom where you think they are." (Page 94 of Starting Strength.)

When challenged at work, be it debugging a program or getting a server or pod to work properly, sometimes it makes sense to escalate the problem or ask for assistance.  This is true for lead architects, I.T. vendors, or junior service desk employees.  In 2018 an article was published entitled Great Leaders Know When to Ask for Help and How to Do It. Here are the top five reasons to ask for assistance.

1)  It can save time.  A senior level person may not have the idiosyncratic business knowledge of a more tenured junior employee.  Often I.T. problems involve specific business procedures.  Multiple services may depend on the resolution of a problem. Collaboration can raise morale.

2)  It can save money.  High hourly rates of employees can cause a business to lose a great deal of money.  Getting help can prevent the productivity loss of hundreds of dollars in just a few minutes.

3)  The key to problem solving is using a non-habitual mode of thought.  A different person can be key to this.  Sometimes a different person can recommend a habitual course of action that was inadvertently overlooked.  No one is perfect.

4)  It can avoid the need for meetings.  Pro forma meetings can bore many participants.  With many other people present, individuals may feel anxiety preventing them from being productive or thoughtful.  Occasional ad hoc collaboration (in the course of escalation of a problem) can create an opportunity to communicate ancillary needs and thus obviate the need of a meeting.

5)  The Pygmalion Effect can cause a junior person to become momentarily valuable beyond her normal pay grade.  The more junior employee may not have the answer but may be able to do investigation and want to prove her worth.  It is advisable to ask questions too.  An OpenStack book says this about networking troubleshooting:  '[D]on't forget that sometimes an extra pair of eyes goes a long way to assist.'  The quote was taken from page 155 of OpenStack Operations Guide (written by Fifield, Fleming, Gentle, Hochstein, Proulx, Toews and Topjian).

Before asking questions, it is wise to be diligent.   Do a search in a knowledge base if you have been provided one.  Sometimes a man page in Linux or a Google search can help.  Ideally get a good night's sleep before work and plan ahead (so you can focus without being distracted).  Ongoing self-study can help you know where to find the answers (or know the answers themselves).  Every business unit is different.  Sometimes managers can set guidelines for when to ask questions clearly and how much time you should take when answering such questions from others.  No one likes spinning their wheels with pressure to be productive and appear competent with a difficult problem.  So when someone asks you for help, remember that they may be in a predicament.  Be nice and good luck avoiding stressful situations.

For further reading, see the following:

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