To Help or Not To Help

General Ramblings comments edit

Hypothetical situation:

A coworker approaches you and asks you to help them out with something. It’s a simple task like copying a file or changing a setting. This isn’t the first time they’ve asked you to help them do this, and they say they can’t do it themselves because of something they’ve known about for a while but haven’t gotten around to addressing - their machine is malfunctioning, their account should have permissions on something but it doesn’t, that sort of thing.

Do you help?

Honestly, in situations like this, I’m torn.

The first time or two, sure, I’ll help out, but after a couple of “please help with this quick little task” requests, I balk. It’s not that I don’t want to be unhelpful or *gasp* not a team player, but that I’d rather treat the cause instead of the symptom. if the reason the person can’t take care of things is something known that they need addressed, I’d much rather help them through the process of getting the root issue resolved so they can take care of the small things on their own. Even if the issue is education (“You know how to do this but I don’t, so can you just do it for me?”) I’d rather train the person than just keep fielding little help requests.

Of course, there are always exceptions (e.g., when there’s a huge deadline that solving the root issue would jeopardize, etc.) but by-and-large, I’d rather things just be fixed.