Seeking advice and support

Who to ask?

When you start work, you should be introduced to your supervisor or line manager, who you probably met during the recruitment process. They are the person who is responsible for your work and managing your performance.

Your supervisor or line manager is usually your first point of contact for any issues that you have

If you work for a larger organisation, there may be a Human Resources team you could speak to, or a union representative. You may also be allocated a work mentor or supporter who is there to help you.

Why ask for help?

You might ask for help if:

  • You don’t understand something – this doesn’t reflect badly on you, it is usually as much to do with the person who originally explained it to you.
  • You’ve made a mistake – don’t worry, we all do – the most important thing is that you noticed and have admitted to it
  • You are undecided how to do something – such as responding to a particular question being asked. Getting someone else’s opinion often helps reassure you that your original thinking was sensible. If their opinion is different from yours it might also lead to a better solution, either by adding their ideas to your own, or by swapping them
  • You want to learn – this is something every employer values in an employee. Being curious about how things work and why we do them this way helps us to understand our own work and learning new things is a strong motivator.

When to ask for help

When you are feeling really anxious, sorting out a concern sooner is better than leaving it

However, getting the timing right when to asking for help is important. Try not to ask when you can see that someone is really busy, just before a break time or at end of the day or shift. Agree to talk at a time when it would be convenient for the person who is helping you. If you find you’re coming up with lots of little questions, you might want to group them all together, and agree a good time with your line manager to tackle them all in one go, rather than making little, regular interruptions.

How to ask for help

Ask the question in the right way, and it will enhance your experience. When you are thinking of asking for help:

  • Try simple solutions first. Then you can tell your line manager what you have tried so far. They are more likely to be impressed by your initiative.
  • If you’ve tried 3 things already and can’t find a solution, ask for help. If you keep trying on your own and failing, you should ask for help. It’s good to try to solve something for yourself, but it’s alright to seek help if a problem is stopping you from getting a task done.
  • Come with possible solutions or at least questions, not just problems. Even if they need some tweaking to make them work, you will make it easier for someone trying to help you to get to a good workable solution.
  • Ask for help by email. It gives you chance to think about how best to phrase your question and the person you are asking time to think through the issues carefully and provide a thoughtful reply.
  • Write down the answers and learn how it is done. It can be helpful to refer to it again.
  • Try to work with someone else similar to solve the solution. Simply asking to do something “together” makes people more likely to want to work with you. Find allies by using something you have in common, an interest, goal, friend or trait highlighting shared experience. For example, if a senior management team includes only two autistic women, don’t just say, “We’re the only two autistic women on the team” (emphasising the trait). Say, “Have you noticed that we get interrupted all the time?” (shared experience).
  • Recognise their expertise. Refer to them as someone with a specific skill, position or attribute that means they are the ideal person to help you. For example, “You are the person who understands this area best….”
  • Say thank you in advance. It helps people to show that you appreciate their help.
  • Talk about how effective their input is. People want to feel that they have made a difference, so if by getting involved, they have made the product or process better quicker or more cost effective in any way, then thank them and tell other people too.
  • Offer to help other people. Provided you have the skills and ability that is needed. Offering to help someone else is a great way to help them feel happy about helping you when you need it.