Ask The Ringmaster-Please!

A frequent comment in our training programs is that people are uncomfortable asking their ringmaster (boss or immediate supervisor) for help when they are juggling elephants. Specifically, they just don't see how they can get the things done (or done well) that are assigned to them. The reason most often given is that they don't want to appear weak.

First, if someone is afraid to talk to their supervisor about the situation, it probably hints of a deeper issue. Trust could be lacking or the relationship has not been grown in a positive way. Also, the person in leadership may not be very "approachable." Some managers understand the value of being available to their people and working through issues, but others use the Nike slogan-Just Do It!

If you are struggling trying to figure out how to get your current workload completed and the elephants keep coming, here are a few suggestions:

  • Think of the needs of your boss or supervisor. How will their help in helping you prioritize assist them in accomplishing what is most important to them?
  • Have an initial solution in mind. Managers don't want employees who simply throw themselves down and scream, "I just can't do it all!" When seeking help, have some ideas in mind of how you could shift your work to accomodate these new responsibilities. Then they can offer advice or suggestions.
  • Use the right language. Use phrases like, "Help me understand..." or "I want to make sure I'm spending my time where it's most important to our team, etc."

Ultimately, you need to seek their support and collaboration. In an era of ever-increasing workloads, it's only a matter of time until an elephant comes crashing down on you-and then you WILL have a talk with your manager or supervisor that won't be nearly as pleasant or productive.