So my colleague always or at least most of the times ask for my help like he expects me to explain everything from scratch for every project. He wants to learn but doesn't quite catch up everything that I explain him. I would feel bad if I don't help him also at the same time I can't afford to lose too much time behind this.

What should I do ?


2 Answers 2


Short answer: Teach your colleague to research and learn in the way that you do.

When you find you have a colleague who seems to rely on you as being the source of all information, then something you can do is to teach them how you learn new things. For example, if you colleague asks you about a certain technology or API, then you can say to them:

Have you tried searching for that? What search terms did you use? I would suggest x search term.

Repeat this, each time they have a question that is technology specific.

Now, if they are asking you project specific issues, when you explain something to them the first time, suggest they write it down. If they then ask you the same question again, say something like:

Did you have a look in your notes you took about this? Did it give you enough information?

If they answer, "No I didn't look" then you can point them to do so, but if they say that it didn't cover it, tell them to write the new information down to add to their notes.

Lastly, if they are onboarding to a new or existing project, direct them to the documentation. It can be tech specs, design documents or even function specifications. Answer something like:

Did you check the [insert relevant document here]? What did it say? Where do you find it unclear?

Sooner or later, they will get the message that most information they require is already available and that they need to spend some time doing their own research rather than using up your time to do it. If, however, they have checked the other sources and were unable to find the relevant information, then asking you is the correct action for them to take. But make them write it down! :)


Don't let your colleagues learning issues impact on your own work. Help when it's convenient and you feel like it, don't when it's not. Otherwise he/she may just lean on you all the time which it looks like is already happening.

Just be firm, they might get a bit upset, but that's life, you don't want to be someone else's crutch through their career. They'll get the picture eventually and find another crutch. The workplace can be a competitive environment, teaching others is not your task unless you're a teacher.

I'm pretty upfront when I keep getting pestered with issues that seem too simple and when they require long winded explanations... my response is "You need to work that out for yourself. Let me know if you get stuck and I'll see what I can do later." then by the time they've researched it for half an hour they've normally solved it themselves. All I did was take away the easy option of picking my brain for the answer.

If your colleague is incompetent it can work to your advantage by making you look better. If they get removed, that's life, and most people would prefer to work with colleagues who can handle their jobs, it makes everything go smoother and uplifts the whole team.

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