Q: Jill, do you have any suggestions about when and how to offer help to someone? I have asked my co-workers if they need help (when I’ve seen in some cases that they obviously have!) and I get a rather rude reply — you know that kind of “there’s nothing you can do; do you want to watch me type” attitude. This response, frankly, makes me not want to help that particular type of person. How do I offer help in a way that doesn’t come off as patronizing? After all, co-workers helping each other should be something everyone supports. It’s for the best of the company, isn’t it?
A: A You are certainly right, Christina! Effective teamwork shouldn’t be a privilege it should be a right and expectation of every colleague for every colleague in every workplace. Sadly, though, that isn’t always the case as some of us forget that there is no “I” in team and therefore proceed to either take every achievement or every pitfall solely on our shoulders.
As with offering your help to colleagues, there’s always a way to do things so that only the best of intentions are assumed.
You’ve first got to figure out whether you’re offering help because:
(a) Something is actually being done improperly;
(b) They’re not doing something the way you would; or,
(c) They’re not completing the task fast enough by your standards (not necessarily the jobs).
When we’re supportive to someone who has done something incorrectly, our feedback is often better received because they can immediately see the benefit of our assistance (i.e., helping someone operate the photocopier because they don’t know how to adjust the settings). However, when we are offering help simply because of our own personal needs — the need to feel like we are in control or that only our way (or input) is the right way — then there’s a problem.
I always believe in giving someone the opportunity to try things first. Let them figure out what has worked and what hasn’t. Should they be part of your team, it might be a helpful strategy to begin or complete the task first yourself (especially if there are deadlines or specific expectations looming) with them present in hopes that they might model their behaviour after yours. Help isn’t synonymous with taking over or claiming ownership and the sooner colleagues remember that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, "receiving help" will be seen as a desire to learn more.
Q:Jill, are there any groups for fashion students to join? I’m actually not a fashion student but I’m self-taught. I’m wondering where I might meet some allies so that I might be able to approach potential buyers with my pieces. I’ve just arrived from Sri Lanka and am trying to get back into the industry.
A:Welcome, Shritan! Your best bet would be to visit the Toronto Fashion Incubator site atwww.fashionincubator.com. At the fashion incubator, you’ll find many resources along with opportunities to apply for membership, to work with TFI as a designer in training, as well as leads on finding a mentor who can help introduce you to the Canadian market and moreso the consumer! Once your fashion label is in full swing, you’ll need some financing and small business support. Visit Bank of Montreal’s website, www.bmo.com, which has many services including business planning and coaching geared toward the needs of the newcomer entrepreneur. Good luck!
Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.
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