Help not wanted!

Project leader Lisa is giving a presentation in front of an important customer and fumbles a bit with some details. Senior Project manager Jack steps in to rescue the presentation and add in some expert opinions.

The result? The customer now wants Jack full time on the project and believes that Lisa is not up to the task.

Stepping in, helping, creating a success feels good. It is also a habit – or an addiction. And it’s very much in our human nature – we want to be helpful!

How do you stop your own addiction to helping?

  • Recognise your compulsion to be helpful.  Notice the payoff YOU get from it. Dare to admit that it makes you feel good regardless of the impact on others in the picture.
  • Ask yourself:  how are you really helping?  Look at the bigger picture. If you were always to step in and do the work for someone, or always be there to answer the questions and solve the problems for them – will that really train them to be great problem solvers, workers, etc.?
  • What are other ways you can support?  You can’t make a toddler walk or do it for them. There’s a natural process of growth and development. 

Here are some ideas for how to stop offering help with it hasn’t been asked for

  • Let people know what they are good at so they can build excellence and confidence.
  • Also help people see their blind spots and give them the tools they need to work through it and learn new skills – otherwise you are destined to always fill in the gaps.
  • Be a role model – when it is your turn to be on stage.
  • Have a conversation with the people you lead, support or coach about how you can be supportive in their growth.
  • Learn to hold accountability – in a healthy adult-to-adult way without shame and punishment.