My junior colleagues know that I have expertise in certain areas and can help them whenever needed. In fact, there were cases where I was proactive and helped them resolve issues in those areas.

There is this one junior with whom I have had good conversations in the office. Yet, when it comes to ask for help, s/he uses a roundabout way to seek help from me.

It usually starts with talking about an irrelevant topic with me, or shouting at the top of their voice airing their problem among others.

In first case, I felt like the junior was trying to butter me when it was not needed at all. Given the rapport we have had, I felt this was absolutely unnecessary.

In the second case, s/he talks aloud so that I can hear them and then they would approach me for help. We sit at neighboring bays.

I feel that creating these kind of contexts is not really important. I am ready to help them even if they approach me directly.

I do not want to respond to such buttering or shouting aloud persons. I want to make them clear that if they need any help from me, they can approach me directly.

How should I approach this issue?

  • 3
    Have you tried a straightforward, "Hey, feel free to come to me any time for help!" Or maybe, "I'm always glad to help, that's part of the reason I'm here as your team lead/senior/whatever"
    – dwizum
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:27
  • 1
    What @dwizum said... why can't you just ask this person to be more direct and reassure them that you want to help?
    – teego1967
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:29
  • I wonder if the next time you detect this starting/happening you could ask them directly if they need help - "Is there anything you need help with at the moment? If so, feel free to ask me" and then if they say no ignore any further buttering/contexts
    – Smock
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 12:22

4 Answers 4


You say that between this person and you there is a good relationship and rapport, as you know each other.

You also say that you would wish this person would be more clear and to-the-point when asking you for help. Given these facts I suggest a direct approach, something like:

Hello [name], how have you been?

You know... I've been feeling that lately you sometimes get a bit shy or hesitant when reaching to me for assistance. I want to reassure you that you can count on me for help whenever you want, and I will gladly provide it.

There is no need to hesitate or feel shy... in fact, I prefer if you were more direct from now on. That way, I can better understand what you mean, so we can reach a solution together in the least time possible.

This way you are reiterating your willingness to help, but at the same time politely and clearly asking this person to be more to-the-point when asking.


I think is about the relationship between the two of you. Some people tends to be shy or something like that during the first day, some others can't ask directly for help. I know a few cases like these : the person is in need of help, and they try to make it clear that they need help simply because they can't ask. That's their nature.

I remember during an internship, I talked to few people who didn't even work in the same department, but then others have started conversations with me, we've had coffee sometimes and we've got to know each other better, after that whenever I needed help I would always go directly ask a person that can help without any problem.

Try to get closer to your junior, have launch together sometime, go out sometime as just friends and not the Junior/Senior relationship. I don't know exactly, but I'm just giving you some idea to break the ice. The closer you get to someone the more you'll feel free to ask them about anything. Just keep in mind one thing : During work hours you're his senior and not his friend, you can be friendly with each other but at work, everyone have a position to maintain in from of others.

  • Yes. We have had wonderful conversations together. We know each other much better than others in the office. I have mentioned that in the post. Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:23
  • 1
    Like mentionned in the other comment, maybe that's the nature of your junior. (s)he feels that it's inadequate to ask someone about your job and that you should work hard yourself to get it done. There are really different kinds of people out there. If you are close to him/her you can directly say or ask something like : I've noticed that you don't ask for help when needed, we're all here working for the same goal so feel free to ask whenever you need you're always welcomed and that's also my job as your senior to guide you whenever needed.
    – Noblesse
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:28
  • That is the reply I was expecting. Hope this approach works. Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:30
  • 1
    Wish you best of luck
    – Noblesse
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:31

She probably feels inadequate and doesn't want to be seen as a person that can't do her job. So she won't come directly for help.

I'm getting back into the IT world after being out for 7-8 years. I am frequently having to go to another team member (almost daily) with some questions. It is a little bit humbling, as I was a team leader before leaving IT years ago. I can see how she may feel self-conscious.

To make her feel comfortable, go out of your way to compliment her on what she does right, explain that we all need help in some areas, and reiterate that you are always willing to help.

  • This was the same person who asked for help earlier. And with the rapport that we both have, I do not expect them to butter me. Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:46
  • 1
    I get that. And the guy I'm always asking for help is very friendly and helpful...but I still sort of shy from asking him for help too much. Just keep reassuring her that you're there to help and it's no big deal.
    – Keith
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 17:05

Tell her that while you are more than happy to help her, in order to save time she needs to cut to the chase and tell you what the issue is. Tell her that you are on the clock and that time is money, and yours is worth more. Otherwise she is runs the risk of being disruptive.

You can try to be chatty about it if you want, but I prefer the direct approach as it prevents ambiguity and misunderstanding.

  • 3
    I don't disagree with your idea of being direct (in fact, I think it's the best answer so far), but I do think there's a risk involved with statements like "I'm on the clock" since it may make an already-nervous person even more nervous.
    – dwizum
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:29
  • @dwizum from my point of view, any time people I work with, particularly my superiors, are being overly pleasant and nice or chatty with me, I automatically think they are being fake and so respect and trust them less. At the end of the day, I know that when push comes to shove and the company needs to cut costs they will fire me, just as I'd do the same to a subordinate of mine. Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't be pleasant or friendly, but you've got to be straight with subordinates too. ... Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:47
  • 1
    ... I'd prefer to work for the antisocial robot who wants to get the job done than the person who is all smiles and pleasantries right up until the knives come out. Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 16:48
  • @user1666620, Telling someone that "time is money" and, explicitly, that your time "worth more" definitely crosses into rudeness. That kind of behavior has long-term negative repercussions regardless of seniority or value to the organization.
    – teego1967
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 19:15
  • @teego1967 Regardless of whether you think it is rude or not, it is a fact. Where a person costs more per hour, interrupting them for more than the minimum amount of time necessary costs the company money. Not to mention in cognitive-intense fields like software development each interruption leads to ~30 minutes to for the employee to effectively get back to work. brightdevelopers.com/… softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/46252/… Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:24

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