if this is about promotion, consider monitoring yourself to find if your worry is justified or not. Compare with others who might be your rivals for the job. (now with EDIT section after @Cantalope's comment)
if this is about reputation, weigh you asking others for help and them asking you, to see if you should be worried
make sure it's not about your must-have skills getting rusted, this is the only case where junior will lose their respect for their senior somewhat deservedly, I've seen this happen
if it's just about that junior, see other answers, I fully endorse them. Especially nice ideas: @Jon Hanna (whisper to junior's mentor), @SaggingRufus (junior may sometimes help seniors) @motosubatsu (why did this junior think so)...
Junior guy aside (other answers cover it extensively), the question is:
How would you ask for help, given the situation at hand, without losing credibility?
- What's the situation at hand?
- Losing credibility... in whose eyes?
Let's start with a simple question:
Is this about promotion?
You mentioned cut-throat promotions right after this passage:
I am strongly trying to ask for help even more [...] The perverse effect it does seem to have is to make me look weak, seemingly. I am fighting against this because this is a misconception[...]
So, assuming it's (perhaps!) not just that junior who has this misconception; assuming your fears are about your promotion (will my boss think like this junior? will my other colleague fighting with me over promotion will tell the boss that I keep needing help in my tasks?); assuming you still want to ask for help (for reasons you do it now)...
How would you ask for help, given the situation at hand, without losing credibility?
- I would monitor HOW OFTEN I do this. Just in case. Per person whom you ask (this sometimes matters). You may want to also take a look at how often you do this compared to others. And - if there's a significant difference - why.
- I would first search/research/try my own ideas for 20 minutes (or a bit more if the problem is larger).
- I would phrase my question appropriately, so others would know I've done my due.
- I would ask on SO sometimes, rather than in the office.
- I would try to come with simple rules for myself: when to (NOT) ask.
- when time is of the essence,
- if I can gain considerably more time compared to how much the other guy loses (answering and switching context),
- when I spent too much time on this without effect. How much is too much time for me depends on problem size/weight.
If my friend is doing demanding work, I may not ask, despite him most likely having the answer, unless circumstances are really favourable.
Bosses look for people who get the job done. If they get others help it's OK, as long as lower priority task doesn't pull folks who work on higher priorities. So... don't pull others to help if they do work more crucial and don't BE pulled to help while your task has priority... unless circumstances really show this is how it should be.
Competition in IT
EDITed after @Cantalope's comment:
I do worry about promotion, I will freely admit, since there are many
cooks in there, and feeling "out of my main expertise" can be
frustrating. I do have that feeling that in IT, competition is strong
- If you wish for the top, either be the pioneer or be the last guy on this tech - both give excellent money and stability (to an extent).
- Competition is somewhat strong. Still, you can easily measure company quality by the fact how often skills trample politics and vice versa. We are all human, so relying on "how pleasant other human seems to be" to judge them is wired in our nature, but it's getting work done that's worthwhile in many IT companies. An expert like you'll thrive in those that value skills - that's where you want to be. Of course... YOUR skills.
- So, consider your main area of expertise. Is it aligned with what is needed for your boss? Cause he will promote what he needs usually. Doesn't matter (usually!) how terrific you are with C# if you guys are in dire need of Java folks for new Most Important Project Of Them All.
- Feeling of being outside of your comfort zone gets to everybody, I think, you are not alone. Think positively, technologies are similar and getting more gets easier with time. This will never end, that's the job specifics, as I'm sure you know. Trust in yourself.
So promotion bottom-line:
- Don't worry. Trust in your skills. If your company values politics and self-selling more than skills, consider moving. Unless there are people you like working with, that's usually a good reason to hang around for a bit longer.
- Enrich them if that's what you want or need (perhaps a new language or framework to get that promotion or move to that other promising company?)
- Evaluate your boss on whom he promoted in the past. Self-sellers? Smooth-talkers? Boot-lickers? Hard-workers? Tech wizards? X technology gurus? Then re-evaluate your chances.
Is the team ready to admit "I don't know"?
Now, the other part of your comment:
but I expressly want to make myself more open, no matter the
comments.I accept not knowing. I am not sure if my team does.
- Let's verify if they do then
- If they do NOT, do you want to change that or do you want to move?
- If you want to change that, I'd recommend changing their perception (thanks @BrianD for idea).
Verification on the surface may actually suffice - that is, you may have your answer after round of brief conversations in the kitchen or during company after-party. Informal setting, simple question, done.
"do you think folks like X or Y would admit they have a problem or they don't know the answer? I was wondering lately how we as a team stand on
"I think X dislikes admitting to not knowing for he believes that makes him look weak. Would you agree?"
Later just distinguish if he agreed with "he has this problem" or "it makes one look weak".
Changing their perception needs to start from putting "asking for help" and "getting their input" on same level. First has ramification of you being weaker (to some!), second (usually!) implies THEM BEING GOOD ENOUGH to be asked. I usually use both, so the message is clear for everybody around me, that I consider them same. After a while, if I ask somebody for help in X, everybody knows the guy is good with X.
Feel free to also employ pre-reviews, especially if you guys do code reviews. Get one technically sound person to pre-review your code and ask what can be done better. Follow on his advice. Then get him to review that code. Guaranteed approve, most of the time.
Changing their perception is about showing them the power coming from being liberated and not having to pretend to know it all. Focusing on real job, getting shit done, using THEIR knowledge for it without care if this makes you look weak. Freely admit that team makes you stronger. Thank for good idea here or (jokingly) for "being of use there with this nifty test trick".
Is this about reputation?
How often you ask? How often you are asked? How much time you spent on "your due" before asking? How much they do? If you ask series of questions without doing basic research, your reputation may take a hit among your peers (not to mention folks lower in hierarchy).
If I'm unsure how difficult problem I'm facing, I sometimes do a round and ask (in passing, marking I'm after quick-and-incomplete-on-the-fly-answers). If most of my peers seem to have no inkling about the issue or all are pointing to local expert, I know it's not just me. If some had, I can see if I need to improve here. Which leads to...
Have you ruled out rusted (while basic) skills? Perhaps it was an easy question?
Recently a very mature junior (older guy, changed careers, very deep learner) told me about seniors in his new workplace. Despite Java 9 coming out and Java 8 being out there for years, they never bothered looking at it and they keep saying how difficult it is. When he coded few things with Java 8, three of them rushed to his screen to look. He slowed down, coded this again so they would see how he did this, proposed he could show something about it if they wanted and generally never made a fuss, but he told me that it was a somewhat bitter-sweet feeling. So, while from your story it doesn't seem to be the case... double-check it. Perhaps your question is generally perceived as easy material? I had a few times asked for things that were easy to find and few moments with Google would've answered me equally well as my unfortunate co-worker who had to spent several minutes with me. I was quite embarrassed later when I found how easy was to find this in Google. Happens to the best among us, I think.
Don't get me wrong here. Nobody knows everything. Having rusted skills is a natural thing. But so is being perceived weak - especially by those, who see those skills as a must-have.
If in your job, coding is perceived as primary skill, and your coding has rusted (cause you are an architect for instance and are rushed from meeting to meeting), this will change how you are perceived. Deservedly so - strictly on coding-meter you are weaker than you were. Now couple this with bussiness-as-usual and you're too busy to spot this and too busy to fix this. So you ask for help more, because you know others may help much faster than it will take you to re-discover how this or that worked...
Similar loss of credibility follows if you deemed an out-of-comfort-zone question too time-consuming while it wasn't (not doing your due before asking).
- Monitor yourself. Set simple rules when you would ask, when you won't.
- Keep priorities of the job in mind when asking or asked for help.
- Weigh in how often you ask / are asked, how much time you / others spend on helping. Compare it to your rivals if you're worried about them overtaking you.
- Do your due for problems before you ask for solutions / help.
- Phrase your questions so other know it.
- Double-check that it's not an easy question, perhaps test how much your peers would take to solve it.
- Don't mind the junior, his comment may come from simple excitement, that this mighty senior, whom he has enshrined, has things he doesn't know and perhaps can be reached in time.
Very lengthy answer, sorry about that.