By: Brian Maher
Vice President, Career Services
Most of us are helpful by nature and seek to assist others when called upon. If someone doesn’t know how to use a machine or complete a procedure, we show them. But, unfortunately, that help can also serve as a handicap.
Like some of us are helpful-oriented, there are others who are more than willing to have someone continuously assist them so that either they don’t have to do the work or because they lack the confidence to do it. In those cases, our help becomes a detriment not only to their growth, but to our productivity as well.
I have a simple policy. I don’t do anything for others, I show them. If they need to learn how to use the phone, I sit them down and have them use the phone while I observe and teach. I make them do it repeatedly so that they learn it. Need to know how to convert a Word document into a PDF? No problem, sit here and I’ll show you. And I make them do it. Again and again. If they are simply lacking confidence, they gain it. If they are work-adverse, then they muddle through it as quickly as possible and then they don’t return again for additional help. Either way, problem solved.
If you continuously do it for them, they learn nothing and they cut into your productivity while adding to your stress and you develop negative feelings towards them. You are no longer being helpful and you now view them as a pain in the…
If they are truly interested in learning and simply lack experience or confidence, oftentimes I find that they become eager learners and, in turn, share new discoveries with me that help to expand my knowledge as well.
If you find yourself assisting someone over and over again with the same problem, STOP. You have become a crutch to them and are inhibiting their growth while wasting your time. Teach them, then leave them to learn and make their own mistakes. As I teach, I also ask questions. If you wanted to now make that word Bold, what would you do? How do you choose a different printer on your computer? Let them work it out. It’s worth the time and patience when you have an eager learner.