I was recently given the opportunity at work to lead a small project. My manager told me that I was allowed (and was encouraged to) ask other people around the office for help. Initially, I felt very empowered. However, when I tried to ask other people to work with me, I got the cold shoulder. I think that this response was caused be several things:

  • These people already had plenty of things to do.
  • They did not feel that I should be telling them what to do.
  • They did not like the fact that I had been given the project.

In the end, I did all of the work myself and no one was happy with the outcome. How should I approach this kind of opportunity in the future?

  • 2
    "Asking other people for help" is quite different from "telling them what to do" you do realize, right?
    – JB King
    Mar 20, 2014 at 20:18
  • I might have gotten a bit carried away...
    – user17580
    Mar 20, 2014 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


I was in the same situation as you were couple of years back when my director asked me to develop an application for the company where i could take other resources to join along in this in house project.

  • Go for people who are passionate and interested to learn and contribute new things.
  • Some times people who are interested might have tight deadlines in other project, ask them to contribute minimal and show case their effort to management which will bring more interest in that individual to contribute.
  • Be a good listener and follow up conversations wherever possible. Treat what is shared with respect and where appropriate ongoing interaction.
  • Don't dictate terms.Remember that the more we can give people a say in decisions that affect them, the happier the team members, and the more effective the team.

How should I approach this kind of opportunity in the future?

You had not been given a team, you were asked to look for people to help you. That's not so different from this site really. Some questions are good and get many answers and some are just bad and don't attract any help.

If you want help, make sure it's easy to help you. If you need a meeting with some people for example, make sure you book the meeting room, make sure the timeframe is acceptable to all you invite, take the minutes of the meeting yourself and mail them afterwards. In other words: make it a pleasant experience to have helped you by being in that meeting.

Make sure you talk to the right people at the right time. Nobody likes to waste their time in meeting they actually don't belong. Make sure you act on their feedback. Don't just listen to it and do it your way anyway. They will not give feedback again.

This is not a one-way street. If someone helps you, keep that in mind. He may need help too, some time. Even better, be pro-active. Help people with their tasks. They will remember when you need help with your task.

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