“Managing your career: Dare to ask for help!” on April 2019 at the INC

21 May 2019

For those who missed this PWN/Professional Development workshop here are the highlights of the event, brought to us by Ulrike Lehmann-Deroche, HR Projects Director, Korian. 

Based on co-development techniques, in particular the World Café, the workshop was organized around 3 questions about the difficulty of asking for help in the workplace.  Small groups of participants were invited to brainstorm together to design a personal “dare to ask” strategy. Here are few learnings of this collective brainstorming session. 

Participants were asked to reflect on complicated or complex professional situations participants they had been through.


The first question was “Did you ask for support or help and if you did, did you benefit from asking for help ?”

When invited to exchange on their personal experience in order to enhance a problem solving process, participants mentioned a number of situations. Three of these situations described caught our attention: i) it is particularly difficult to ask for support when in fact you’re expected to come up with solutions, not new questions!  ii) it’s difficult to ask for help when management teams have diverging objectives iii) it’s sometimes our own ego or our own self-doubt that gets in the way: “I would prefer to find a solution on my own”; “I am too old, too young”; “I don’t have the requested diploma…”

Today, where collaboration and co-development techniques are used extensively in the professional world, maybe we need to reconsider our approach ? Speaking more openly about our difficulties will incite other women to also share their difficulties.

Not easy to stay cool when wrestling with these topics, and lucky are they who have resources. When facing complex situations it is essential to step back and take the time to analyse the facts and our options. What is the business question? Why is this making me feel this way? It is never absolutely necessary to take immediate action ; and the more stakeholders are involved, the better it is to adopt a strategy of small steps. Influencing little by little can make more sense, save you energy in the long run and lead to a more reasonable result in the end.

Question 2 : Who could you have reached out to? And who did actually help you?  

Participants agreed that potential supporters exist: you will find them amongst your colleagues and peers. But they may also be members of your HR team, your manager or even your n+2. 

Participants also mentioned the potential of exchanging with PWN members and pointed out that the network’s mentoring club could for instance be an efficient resource.

A mentor, an experienced professional, is indeed a valuable asset, but a coach could also be a good idea. This expert, trained in development, can support us on the road to fulfilment and success and help us save time. The difference between coaching and mentoring is linked to the counter-parts involved. Working with a mentor is a one-way exchange, whereas the coach is trained and paid for his support and is thus more dedicated to our personal progress and at our side when things get tough.

Strangely enough, friends and partners were not mentioned; are they too busy with their personal lives? 

Question 3 : How did you prepare yourself for this conversation? How could you have better prepared yourself? 

Participants agreed that it was important to prepare the exchange. It is necessary to prepare facts and figures, the context, but also to prepare oneself emotionally: being calm, staying humble and having thought about a plan B for example.

Participants were then asked for their take-away at the end of this workshop : “what can you decide to do in view of your situation today? Who can you reach out to? How can you best prepare for this?”

We concluded the workshop by recognizing that we are all worthy of having a coach ourselves, especially since the French Compte Personnel de Formation www.moncompteactivité.gouv.fr  now helps fund this time of support.


So for those who want to move forwards, here are the golden questions to ask your potential coach, before committing to this process

  • Which coaching school did they attend ? And are they certified ? A few Parisian majors are: International Mozaik, Transformance Pro, L’Académie du coaching; and an international school: FORSC 
  • Is she/he supervised? Supervision supports the coach to maintain a professional distance and support your personal growth. 
  • What is her/his professional career? Has she/he been confronted with similar issues to those you would like to share? Ask them to explain their background and remember to check out their LinkedIn account!
  •  Is the coach a member of a professional Society? Ex. SFC, ICF, EMCC.. this shows their overall interest for developmental questions , ongoing development and training and is a good sign of openness.
  • References: find someone you know and trust who has worked with the coach and obtained a satisfying result. How do their needs and circumstances compare to yours ? There are many unskilled coaches out there, always take the time ask the up mentioned questions for your own safety.
  • Sign a contract with the coaching objectives, the coach’s CV, how often you plan to meet/exchange (in person, skype...) and the price. This can be done on 2 pages and will give a clear framework to your growth! 

We hope to have made this clear: we all face problems in the workplace, that’s completely normal. It’s the way we work with them that with time, influences our leadership. You cannot reinvent the light bulb by doing research on candles! Sometimes problems need a new way of looking and coaching can be your beam of light.


Ulrike Lehmann

Thank you to the INC for hosting our Professional Development workshops this year and thanks to the INC team for making it happen.

For more information on the PWN Professional Development program for 2018 - 2019, please contact :
Romaine Johnstone, PWN/VP Professional Development :
Mobile +33 (0)6 64 27 29 07


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