Asking for Help When You’re Overextended

December 14, 2022 David Witt

There are a lot of different ways to respond to burnout and disengagement. Quiet quitting has certainly been a popular option lately. However, most of the positive options for dealing with burnout involve stepping into conversations, not withdrawing from them, says Dr. Vicki Halsey, vice president of applied learning at The Ken Blanchard Companies.

“You want to proactively address the things that are missing in your work environment instead of settling for less.”

This is especially true for managers, says Halsey. “More than two-thirds of managers we’ve heard from have reported symptoms of burnout within the past year. This is a critical problem that needs to be addressed. Managers are the ones who hold things together in an organization and serve as positive energy role models. We must keep this important group well-nourished and functioning at a high level.”

Halsey recommends a three-step process for managers that begins with self-evaluation.

Step 1: Assess your present status

“Take an inventory of your current state. What is your schedule? What kind of demands are you facing at work? What are your goals? What do you spend your time doing?

Now visualize your desired future. What would you like your day-to-day life to look like? What do you want from your work: More innovative tasks? A more consistent routine?

“Next, compare your desired future to what you are currently experiencing. What's most important? What are the tasks that are draining you and not serving anyone? Can you delete anything from your list?”

You also want to identify the resources you need and specific people who can help you, says Halsey.

“Maybe you need a new employee. Maybe you need information. Maybe you need four hours with a dedicated resource to help you with your tasks on a weekly basis. Who are some of the people that you could ask for help—colleagues, leaders, team employees, mentors, coaches?”

Step 2: Ask for help

If the idea of asking for help is out of your comfort zone, you’ll need to begin by adopting the right mindset. This is all about overcoming limiting beliefs that could keep you from getting the help you need. Here are a few negative beliefs that can get in the way, each followed by its positive counterpoint:

  • I’ll look weak, needy, and not that smart if I ask for help.
    • In fact, smarter people ask the best questions.
  • It's selfish to ask for help.
    • Asking for help creates synergy with others and provides additional resources for doing your job better.
  • People are too busy.
    • Research shows people like to help other people.
  • Asking for help will erode others’ trust in my ability to do my job.
    • Displaying vulnerability actually builds trust.
  • It will take longer to make decisions.
    • You’ll make better decisions if you involve others.
  • It feels like a risk.
    • Asking for help minimizes risk by involving other people.

Halsey loves the phrase Few succeed well alone.

“We have to override the common belief that seeking help makes us look weak or stupid. Remember the gifts of asking for help. You’ll build better relationships, make better decisions, minimize risk, and be more successful at activating your purpose and helping the organization get to the next level.”

Once you’ve figured out the best person to meet with, set up the meeting. Be specific in the invitation regarding what you want to talk about, says Halsey.

“After you’ve scheduled the meeting, you’ll need to prepare for the conversation. Rehearse with a buddy, significant other, or peer—especially if you think the conversation is going to be tricky for you. This is where you practice the part of the conversation where you will explain specifically what you need.

“Keep it positive—not ‘I'm sorry to seem so needy.’ Whatever you need or want, frame it as a positive. Hold on to the image of the amazing success state you’ll be in after you get the help you need from the person.”

Also remember to practice closing the help-seeking conversation with gratitude, says Halsey.

“Close with sincere words of appreciation for the person and their willingness to help you.”

Step 3: Build a habit of asking for the help you need

“Make asking for help—and giving help to others—a part of your managerial skillset,” says Halsey.

“Too often we're focused on what we need to get done and not on who might help us. Rethink your to-do list—for example, maybe on every third task you could jot down the name of someone who could help you with that task or a great person you could ping ideas off of.

“Instead of focusing only on what needs to be done, think about people who could help you. Every day or so, reach out to somebody and say, ‘Hey, do you have five minutes for a conversation?’ or ‘Could I run an idea by you?’ Start small in terms of asking for what you need and then move to bigger things such as getting that extra team member.”

Practice positivity

All people want to grow and develop, but positivity and energy can be drained when people feel overextended, says Halsey.

“As a manager, it’s important to address burnout in yourself or in others as soon as possible. Look for signs of exhaustion, withdrawal, negativity, or feelings of inadequacy. If you find yourself feeling out of sorts, don’t hesitate to use the tools we’ve discussed here in your next meeting with your immediate supervisor. And if you suspect burnout in your team members, create an open space for them to discuss their experiences.”


Would you like to learn more about improving the quality and frequency of conversations taking place in your organization? Check out Vicki Halsey's webinar recording on the topic!

Asking for Help: Preventing Burnout, Withdrawal, and Quiet Quitting

Burnout is prevalent in today’s work environment. Withdrawal and quiet quitting are being suggested by some as a possible remedy. But is there a better way? In this interactive online webinar, Dr. Vicki Halsey shares strategies for identifying and speaking up for the resources you need to regain passion and perform at your best. Learn how to:

  • Identify what you need from your work environment
  • Ask for help in a positive, proactive manner
  • Make it a habit to seek help when you need it

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the issues of burnout, withdrawal, and quiet quitting. Learn tips you can use in your own career and how to model positive behaviors for others.

Watch Now!

About the Author

David  Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for Blanchard®. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

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