Why Asking for Help Actually Helps the Company

Force Multipliers are the badasses of the business world. Okay, yeah, I might be biased, but I have seen first hand what Force Multipliers can do. Force Multipliers are problem-solvers and fixers. They are some of the most resourceful and connected individuals in your organization. If you have a challenge, bring it to your nearest Force Multiplier, and I guarantee they will have a solution for you by the end of the day.

ASSISTANTS AND THE ROLE OF LEVERAGE

Like with any strength, it can also become a weakness. When you’re used to being the superhero, the fixer, the savior of the office, or for your CEO, then that can be a tough badge of honor to give up, even if it’s causing you personal or professional suffering. Furthermore, as a Force Multiplier, we are the support for our team and Executives, we are the leverage in their lives. If you are working for an entrepreneur or small business, you may be their only employee and therefore there is a lot of responsibility to show up and deliver.

When we are the leverage, then we often have the mindset that we don’t need, or maybe even deserve, leverage of our own. It can be a hard pattern of thinking to break. And yet, just because we offer support and leverage to our leader, that doesn’t mean we don’t need leverage too. And that means that you have to ask for help.

HELP! THE FEAR OF ASKING FOR LEVERAGE

I know, I know. It is so much easier said than done. Personally, I hated asking for help for years. I think there is a lot of fear around asking for help. There is the fear of coming off as uncommitted, like you’re not a team player, or like you can’t handle the job. I know, for me, the fear of appearing incompetent or incapable was real. So, I masked that fear with a can-do attitude, long to-do lists, and even longer hours.

In addition, it may not just be the fear that is holding you back, but in fact, your deep loyalty and commitment to the company and your Executive. That happened to me too. I didn’t want to put any undue burden on other team members or a financial burden on the company by making another hire as we were growing, so I just buckled down and did the work. Sounds like a win for the company on the surface, but I was actually unintentionally doing a disservice to the organization – which was the exact opposite of my intent!

So, how do you tell your leader when you simply have too much to do? How can you protect your role as an invaluable business partner while essentially calling “uncle”? Well, it’s not easy, but as with most things, it starts with a conversation. 

START THE LEVERAGE CONVERSATION

Look, your boss isn’t completely immune to the fact that you may have made a few mistakes lately (and you never make mistakes), you are working extremely long hours (not just once or twice a week, but every day), and you no longer seem happy or fulfilled in your role (no matter how good you think you’re faking it). These are some of the classic signs of burnout, and it’s time to raise the white flag. This does not mean you have failed or that you are a failure! It simply means that the company is growing, and that’s a good thing! You need help with your workload in order to continue to assist your leader at the level that he or she expects of you and that you expect from yourself. 

I’ve had two or three of these moments over the years working with Adam. This happened several times because the company has grown tremendously in the past ten years and we’ve seen several iterations along the way. 

The first time I made an Executive Assistant hire to replace myself in that capacity was about seven years ago. I had my hand in the administration and operations not only for Adam but for three other companies. We hired an assistant to help split my workload, then we had two of us with our hands in three companies. Not the most effective solution. Over the next couple of years, we went through several EAs in that role and ultimately decided to hire specific administrative and operational support for each organization rather than relying on one person with a divided focus. That worked really well for the next couple of years. I was able to leverage some of my responsibilities while continuing to focus on my strengths as EA and Chief of Staff to Adam. 

About five years ago, we went through more growing pains and hired a new assistant, to again help with my workload. I was able to leverage a lot of social media, marketing, and event coordination to that individual. Slowly, I was eliminating complete jobs from my list of responsibilities and it felt great! 

EXPERIMENTING WITH LEVERAGE

In mid-2017, it was no longer solely an issue of workload, but rather, a combination of workload, feeling stagnant, and not being completely aligned in my position. You see, working so closely with Adam over the past ten years gave me a unique insight into various positions in our company, taught me a tremendous amount about leadership, and gave me the opportunity to really create a career that was the best fit for my strengths. Turns out, I am much better suited to being in a leadership position than being totally in the details all the time. I know we have talked about this before: yes, Force Multipliers are leaders too! However, with the size and the scope of our organization, it was becoming increasingly difficult to handle all the personal items and the day-to-day operational responsibilities, as well as to fulfill the strategic, growth-oriented responsibilities that were part of my role. 

Once we figured this out (I think it took us almost four years of trial and error!), we decided to hire an Executive Assistant who would replace me in terms of managing Adam’s day-to-day personal and business affairs, and who would also help me with miscellaneous projects as they arose. 

GROWING & TRANSFORMING IN YOUR ROLE

Your help can come in many different forms. You have to figure out what works for you. Leverage for the Force Multiplier could be a part-time administrative assistant, perhaps it’s a virtual scheduler, maybe you need to simply delegate a few responsibilities to a third party vendor, or maybe it’s some other full-time hire like a bookkeeper, EA, or HR Manager that will allow you to operate in your strength zone. Regardless of what the next hire is, understand that at some point, you may no longer be able to do it alone, and that’s okay.

If this sounds familiar, then it’s going to require a fierce conversation with yourself and then with your leader. One other word of advice (clearly, speaking from experience here): Speak up sooner rather than later! It is likely going to be an extensive interviewing and hiring process to find someone who can live up to your expectations, let alone the expectations of your Executive, who has been used to working with you, and only you, for many years. It could be six months or more before you find the right person. Do not delay! 

And here’s where the real magic happens. When you ask for help, onboard that additional leverage, and begin to work in alignment with where you can provide the most value to the company – the company starts to thrive. I know that for a year or two of not asking for help, I actually slowed the company down. We could have moved faster and more efficiently if we had divided my role and conquered the next challenge.

THE WIN-WIN OF LEVERAGE

Hindsight is indeed 20/20. Asking for help actually helps the company. Once I wrapped my head around that concept, I am now intentional about evaluating new projects, new companies, or new assignments against my workload and either leaning on our amazing team of people to help or asking to pause until we can get the right hire in place to lead the charge. And, yes, contrary to popular belief, most people can do it better than you and me. It is my responsibility as Force Multiplier to help find the very best people and let them do their thing, not necessarily do it all. It took me a while to get there, but I’m glad I did. Not only did it help the company, but it helped me in my personal life and career. Now, that’s a true win-win!

When is the last time you asked for help? What is the first step you can take in your personal or professional life to build your “ask for help” muscle? What do you have to let go of in order to move forward in your career?

If you want to hear me talk about this experience in more detail, check out this podcast episode Adam and I did: BMS Episode #024 – How To Avoid Burnout When You’re A High Achiever.

Like this post?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

Search

Recent Posts

GET THE LATEST UPDATES

We won’t flood your inbox. Opt out anytime.