We live in a time when every job is temporary. Today, you have to keep yourself relevant and at the top of your game if you want to stay employed. Companies expect you to make or save them enough money to justify the cost of hiring you. If you can't demonstrate your value every day, you could find yourself handed a pink slip. The breakneck rate of change in the marketplace, coupled with the gig economy, has made us all businesses-of-one who must always be thinking about how to market ourselves effectively. It's no wonder more and more people are adopting zero-sum thinking (I win, you lose), in their careers. Unfortunately, this is not only making people less happy and less wealthy, it's also hurting their career potential long-term.

Studies show loners are less successful and more likely to get fired.

In a study of people who don't ask coworkers for help, there were some interesting findings related to their performance:

"...we found that people with negative views about accepting help at work were more likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs and to think about quitting. These employees also had lower levels of job performance, were less helpful themselves, were less willing to go the extra mile for their organization, and were less creative. So they weren't just failing to realize the benefits of helping behaviors; they were incurring a host of negative outcomes, as well.

Even their assumptions about how others perceived them were misguided. We found that people with negative views about accepting help were seen less favorably by their supervisors."

In short, in an attempt to be the best, these folks turned out to be perceived as the worst.

Why do we think we should go it alone?

The study looked at the most common reasons people feel they shouldn't ask coworkers for help. Five main reasons were:

  • preferring to be self-reliant and complete their work on their own,
  • wanting to protect their image,
  • not wanting to feel obligated to return the favor,
  • not trusting their coworkers' motives, and
  • believing that their coworkers are incompetent.

Yet, while these may seem sound, the fact is, managers think more highly of people who solicit the help of their coworkers. In their minds, those who accept and seek help are more likely to be rated as exhibiting "positive follower" qualities i.e. viewed as hardworking and productive team players.

P.S. It's easier to ask coworkers for help when you understand your workplace persona.

Every professional has a workplace persona, i.e. the way you prefer to add value on the job. Professionals who know and embrace their workplace personas are more confident and secure in their roles. They don't feel threatened by the success of others.This makes it easier for them to ask coworkers for help because they know it will help them deliver even greater value to the employer - and make them look better.