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One of the drawbacks of informal learning?


Asking colleagues for help is not wrong in itself of course but you need to be careful who you ask. If you have someone you really trust, then fine, but when you're new to an organisation you might approach someone who's been around for a while and who may not have all the right answers!

Recent research points to the fact that many managers get information to help deal with problems from internet or from asking around -this is what can be called 'informal learning' and can be very effective. But it also has its drawbacks. Before you approach someone think in advance of how they might react; they might be flattered but they might be suspicious! You also may have some reservations so get clear on this before you speak!

Possible issues to consider:


* They don't know the answer to the question either but don't want to say

* They did it once and got it wrong

* They think they are the world's expert on X and they sound so knowledgeable that you believe them, but in fact they aren't

* They'll say "oh, I've been wondering what to do too" which won't help

* They will wonder what you are after


* You don't want to look stupid in front of your peers by asking for help

* You don't want to be indebted to them for this advice

* You don't want them to think you are a bad manager

* You think that if they help you they are going to want something in return

What if you find the right person?

Of course you may have a fellow manager who can truly help you with the situation as they are knowledgeable, experienced and humble enough to offer suggestions not impose solutions. Certainly peer support is very valuable in corporations and is probably underutilised. If you find a colleague you get on particularly well with, then you might want to set a regular meeting time when you can discuss current work challenges. It's a good idea to share the time out so that one person doesn't dominate and the other one end up feeling frustrated - so divide your hour into half and hour 'each way' and spend 30 minutes each outlining the situation and brainstorming solutions. This might sound a bit formal but it works really well and you'll soon get used to the structure and see the benefits for yourselves.

So where else can you go for help?

* Training within your organisation -there might be an online course you can easily sign up for

* Books -nothing like the traditional in some circumstances!

* Intranet site if you have one

* Specialist departments

* Outside agencies specialised in the issue

* Friends working in other companies

* Internet -but be as careful here as you would with your colleagues and only look at reputable sites.

Top Tip When you are new to a team or a company, start watching out for the people who really do know what they're talking about and who is expert in what subjects. Then when you need help, you will know who to go to with confidence!

MANAGE SMARTER!! Join me for a webinar on Tuesday 20th July 8pm BST. Sign up here http://www.From Good Manager to GREAT

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