Feb 13, 2023 Vas Nair

You Don’t Always Have The Answers

Hey, it could be your first job, trekking along a different career path, or even a promotion. These can be exciting opportunities, which can also be unsettling.

Regardless of your time at a company, taking on a new role will present uncertainties – which can range from a new team (or new Boss!), relocating to another office, working with new clients, or figuring out what it’s like to be in the spotlight. New adventures can be thrilling, and they can be daunting! So, being prepared and forming alliances will go a long way.

Illustration of a girl with a book and a thought cloud as she thinks about her new role

For many people, there’s a hesitation to ask others at work for help. This could come from not knowing who to ask or how to ask for assistance. There are also the high expectations that one sets for oneself – ‘I should know this!’

Reaching out for help can have tremendous benefits, such as;

  • getting to know others and how your work connects to what they do
  • learning more about the business and its operations
  • discovering ways to get more acclimated
  • becoming more familiar with the culture
  • strengthening or establishing new channels of communication
  • creating a network  
  • finding out more about your strengths and areas for development 
  • building your confidence

Asking for help can range from seeking advice on how to manage workplace relationships, practicing a task or activity, figuring out how to deal with conflict or asking for feedback about your performance. You should, however, do your thinking, planning and research before jumping in to look for someone’s shoulder to tap. If you’re aiming to take up their time and leverage their knowledge, you should at least be prepared for the conversation.

So, take a pause and consider the following…

Be proactive

If you’ve stepped into a new role, do your homework to thoroughly understand what’s expected of you, what the main goals are and where you think there are opportunities for improvement. For example, if you’ve joined a new company, look into the business priorities, culture, and what your team is responsible for. Ask for a job description, and if one doesn’t exist; list your questions for your manager and colleagues about your responsibilities, goals and the resources available to you. Set aside time to get to know others and go to the discussions with your impression of what your role entails. With their feedback and suggestions, you can plan your next steps.

Pinpoint what you need help with and be specific

Don’t throw in everything, including the kitchen sink! List what you’re specifically unsure about or struggling with. For instance, if you’re managing new clients – specify what you’re unsure about. Is it a lack of knowledge about their business? Do you need an introduction to key stakeholders? Are the terms of the contract ambiguous?

Prioritize where you need help immediately

By filtering your list, you’ll have a clearer picture of who to reach out to. Oftentimes, it may not be a senior leader. Next, ask them for their time and explain that you’ve done your homework. You might say: I’ve reviewed the client’s file and understand XYZ about them. I do, however, have a few questions about certain aspects of our contract. As you’ve worked with the client in the past, could you please help me get up to speed?’

You may even want to send your list of questions to them beforehand.


Ideally, within 48 hours, call or send an email to thank them for their time and guidance. Include any immediate steps you plan to take (thanks to their advice!) Remember, they’ll want to know that their guidance has been of value to you. You may also have received suggestions for your professional growth, so make sure you update your Development Plan to facilitate your ongoing progress.

Be open and extend the favor

If the experience has fast-tracked your progress at work, why not give some thought to helping and coaching others? It can be quite rewarding to watch someone grow and evolve, and for you to be a part of their journey. Ultimately, the experience can work in your favor as well, as you improve your own coaching and communication skills. 

Giraffe HR App - Creators Vas Nair and Sobha Nair

Hi there!

We’re Vas and Sobha Nair, two sisters that have lived and breathed all aspects of human resources for over 50 years between us. Giraffe was born from our global experience coaching leaders and business owners navigate the same tricky workplace issues and discussions that you face. We know the best practices and proven processes that help turn workplace conflict on its head – and we want to share all of this and more with you in Giraffe.

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