How to Ask Your Boss for Help Without Looking Incompetent


At some point in your career, you’ll likely be faced with a conundrum that requires help to solve. But, asking your boss for assistance can be a nerve-racking experience, especially if you are worried that it will reflect negatively on your capabilities. However, if you don’t even know how to begin to solve your problem, you may not have any other option.

The key to asking your manager for help is to make sure you approach the situation the right way. Here’s how to do just that.

Choose a Method

Your first step is to decide how to bring the subject up with your boss. Typically, you have two options: in-person or email.

Often, the idea of emailing your request for assistance is the most appealing, as you can carefully craft your message and don’t have to maintain eye contact while delivering the details. But, if your matter is urgent, an actual conversation is the better choice.

Collect the Facts

Before you have the conversation, using the method you identified above, you need to get all of the details coordinated. This includes the facts about the situation, what you have already tried as solutions, and whether anyone else tried to assist along the way.

The additional background information provides necessary context and allows your manager to bypass any ideas that have already been tried. It also shows that you are fully prepared for the discussion and gives you a chance to review all of the facts beforehand which, at times, can help you find a solution on your own that you may have overlooked.

Explain Why You Came to Them

Generally, you aren’t going to approach your boss with a problem unless the risk of not finding the right solution carries significant repercussions for the business. Understanding what the potential fallout could be and being able to present this information clearly to your manager helps make it clear why their assistance is necessary.

Typically, your boss would rather jump in than deal with the aftermath of a situation that went awry, so presenting these details may actually make your manager glad that you came to them for help instead of simply letting things explode.

Don’t Apologize for Your Request

Many people are tempted to say they are sorry when asking for help, but this normally isn’t necessary. No one has all of the answers, hence why there are multiple people employed in your section. Instead, focus on the facts, but don’t be afraid to express your appreciation for their guidance. Typically, that will be seen as a professional approach.

Take Notes

Once your boss begins to provide you with information, you need to keep track of their advice. Having to come back a second time and ask that they repeat the details will reflect poorly on you, so be proactive and take notes during our discussion. This also gives you something you can keep, giving you valuable reference information should the same issue arise again.

By following the tips above, you should be able to ask your boss for help without harming your reputation. If you would like to learn more or are seeking a new position, the team at Bayside Solutions want to hear from you. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today.