10 Comments

You make a subtle but important distinction between a favour and a responsibility - co-workers shouldn't feel awkward about asking each other to meet their responsibilities. If we feel like we are asking favours, then it could be a sign that the organisation isn't clear on its priorities and people's responsibilities to meet them. If there is too much ambiguity and a lack of alignment, then asking someone to meet their obligations will feel like asking for a favour. You’re asking as an agent of the organisation, as you say, but the organisation needs to know what it wants - and communicate it, build structures to support it, and incentivise it.

Expand full comment

Great article Wes – something I feel an (unfortunate) lot of folks should have in mind when they come to work.

Expand full comment

I love the distinction you made between favors and responsibility. I'd also frame requests as a call for collaboration.

Without team cooperation, many things won't be done.

Part of the job is to be cooperative. So, not hesitating to ask questions or requests is actually a way to have a proactive mindset.

Thank you for writing this, Wes!

Expand full comment

Beautifully written, I like this perspective honestly never considered what is mentioned and could see how it can be a social leaky bucket. Reflecting on when I've asked for favours I think 90% are in the "this a real quick request outside of your usual job role" thing but I'll be mindful of not using it as a throw in friendly opener from now on 😬

Expand full comment

So good!

"work requests aren’t favors."

"we are agents of this organization."

Use your social capital wisely. ‼️

Expand full comment

During the early stages of my career, I almost often did this! This article gave that syndrome a name.

As I got into leadership role, I learned to be direct which indirectly helped with not asking for ‘favors’ when it was their job. Though being intentional about this behavior would have helped me more.

I will remember this when I coach growing leaders.

Expand full comment

How did you get the inventory analyst to come around in the end? Could you share examples of how you've framed requests to people who act like they are doing you a favor (when it's really their job)?

Expand full comment

Wow, never thought about it like this before. I am going to look out for this, on the giving and receiving end. Also here’s another perspective- in cases of asking for tech help from colleagues- the tech gap is real among adults, and I think some people may feel like they should know how to do certain things but don’t, which is why they may think of the request as a special request (a favor)!

Expand full comment

Oooft another heavy hitting post, Wes! Thanks for another great reframe and good recommendations on mitigating this behaviour. Thanks!

Expand full comment