Professor Yihao Liu and Graduate Student Fan Xuan Chen Show That Supervisors' Evaluations are Linked to How Employees Request Help


When employees encounter a challenge at work, it can be useful to ask for help. New research from Professor Yihao Liu and graduate student Fan Xuan shows the way in which employees request help can change how their co-workers and supervisors view them. When an employee asks their coworkers to solve the problem, a strategy called “dependent help-seeking,” those coworkers subsequently rate their colleague as less competent. 

In contrast, seeking help in gaining  the skills needed to solve the problem independently, a strategy called “autonomous help seeking,” did not affect coworker ratings of their competence. It also boosted the employee’s belief in their own ability. How coworkers viewed the competence of their help-seeking colleague was positively correlated with how the colleague’s supervisor evaluated their job performance.


You can read more about this research at the Illinois News Bureau.


This research was reported in:

Liu, Y., Chen, F. X., Chiang, J. T. J., Wang, Z., & Liu, H. (2021). Asking how to fish vs. asking for fish: Antecedents and outcomes of different types of help‐seeking at work. Personnel Psychology.