As an employer, the job candidates that excite me the most are those who show a tremendous willingness to learn. It is not what they know, but what they are capable of learning – and beyond that, their insatiable desire to continue to learn and grow.

Most of those who fall into this category tend to be self-learners. They don’t need to be spoon-fed information through formal training and information sessions. All they need is to be given a chance to do interesting work, and a starting point. Occasionally they may get stuck, but when this happens, some of them have an instinct about when to raise their hand and ask for help.

It is this last skill that I want to talk about today: Knowing when to raise your hand. You will invariably find people who raise their hand when they hit the slightest obstacle. They are like a student who asks too many questions in the classroom. While such behavior can be a bit annoying, it rarely leads to much trouble. Their learning requires more assistance, but they move forward and get the job done.

Then, there are those who are just the opposite. They hate to ask for help. They may be struggling mightily, but it is not in their nature to raise their hand. Creating systems and processes to keep a close tab on the progress, or lack thereof, of such people can be rather expensive. We rely on people to raise their hands when they’re in trouble. By failing to ask for help, these employees may be sowing the seeds of a future crisis.

It is indeed a good idea to struggle a little to figure things out by yourself. The best way to do so is by communicating in parallel that you are stuck, but that you still prefer to find a solution by yourself. The learning that happens in the process is tremendous. However, if everyone in an organization tries to do that all the time, it ends up being counterproductive. In such a scenario, we are not leveraging the collective knowledge, expertise, and wisdom of the organization.

At TEOCO, we have built a strong and diverse team so that we can collaborate and help each other. It is critical that we leverage the organization and keep a balance between individual growth and getting the job done with speed and agility. Our informal communication channels enable us to find trouble spots early on, but there is no substitute for teaching people to raise their hand and not wait too long before asking for help!

With special thanks to Srinivas Bhogle for his support and contribution to this project.