Proactive Helper or Reactive Helper

By Jeremy Blake on July 6, 2017

I was walking my dog yesterday evening and I saw an old lady struggling with moving her wheelie bin.

I went over and helped her get it back up to the side of her house. I asked her if her neighbours ever help her do that. She said they didn’t, and then she said, “but to be fair I’ve never asked.”

This got me thinking about the camps people fall into when it comes to needing help and asking for help. Taking the situation of the elderly lady and her wheelie bin.

  1. Proactive Helper – Asks people if they need help before they even need it. E.G “Would you like me to take your bin out for you each week?
  2. Reactive Helper – Sees lady struggling for help and at that point intervenes and helps.
  3. Proactive asker for help – “Could you please help me with my bin, it’s so full I’m struggling to wheel it to the road?”
  4. Doesn’t ask for help - and may or may not benefit from a Proactive Helper or a Reactive Helper depending on if she lives near one or is seen having a need.

Let’s transport this to business and think of an example of helping colleagues.

One of the most successful sales teams I was in was my telesales team at Yellow Pages, selling advertising space.

The team I was in won the Outstanding Teamwork award in 2001, and the main reason for this is we were a bunch of proactives helpers and askers. I remember being given my classifications and one I was given was Pubs. Simon, a member of my team had run a pub so I asked him what was the best angle to help and encourage pubs to advertise. He offered, “If they are a B&B, have a fireplace, do a Sunday lunch or are they are Free House, if one of those comes up trumps they’ll need to promote it.”

Two weeks later,  Simon sits in his chair and as I look across I see an expression of heaviness is in his eyes. “What’s up pal?” I ask. “Farmers, 378 of them, lord loves us!”
“I’ll take them”, I say, “they often run B&B’s and they go in that section, they get a few bookings every year with people looking up their number when friends or family come to stay and they can’t fit them in.”

This sharing habit spread across the whole team and we ended up swapping accounts and we didn’t even tally the sales, we knew that what went around would come around. We were rewarded with a weekend in Gleneagles with our partners.

Your Summer Challenge

Choose 3 people at work who you feel do not ask for help, and approach them as a proactive helper.

See what their reaction is and if they don’t let you help you may be in a better position to be a Breactive helper when they need you. You may also have opened the door to them asking you for help, when it comes to approaching you.