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How do I ask XFN partner for help to make progress in the project?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

I am working on building a framework and often I need help from a IC XFN partner to keep making progress in the project. However, many times they would not respond back or give vague responses on chat threads. When I set up meeting with them, they would not be quick to respond to meetings. I once asked them that I had certain questions that I documented after going through their codebase and need answers from them, however they would not take me seriously. How do I handle this in a positive way, keep making progress and unblocking myself? I want to building meaningful relationships with XFN partners and would like them to respect me however, it seems they are not reciprocating the same

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(2 comments)
  • 1
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    Unfortunately, this is pretty classic workplace behavior - You will have a lot of coworkers who aren't exactly the smoothest to collaborate with. The good news is that there's many ways to tackle this problem:

    • Find another person to help - This one is pretty straightforward: Maybe there's another person on their team who can also unblock you?
    • Use your manager to escalate - This is especially relevant if the above isn't possible. If this person is a single-point-of-failure for your high-impact project and you simply can't move forward at a good pace without their help, you have to bring in the big guns - Don't just struggle on your own. Let your manager know about the situation and bring them in to "grease the wheels" with the communication.
    • Communicate your request better - Share the context and impact behind your need, add preemptive thanks, bundle questions together when you have multiple: There are many ways of going about this. I recommend checking out my Effective Communication Series for more tactics here.
    • Build the relationship more - People are more likely to help you if they like you. Try zooming out from this interaction of "I need help from this person" and changing the problem to "I want this person to like and trust me more". Maybe you can help them in some way or take them out for a meal (very applicable if you're in working in-office). Another option to consider is if you can give deeper thanks for the times they have helped you a bit.

    On top of all of this, my advice is to try to see the world from their eyes and assume good intent. It isn't fair to just expect someone to give you deep help by default, especially if they're an XFN partner and not on your team. There's many reasons that could explain this:

    • Maybe they're just extremely busy at work and overloaded with XFN requests.
    • Maybe they're going through something outside of work.
    • Maybe they have had a bad history working with your team in particular for some reason.

    Try to figure out what their life looks like as much as possible. Every time someone really strives to put themselves in another person's shoes, the world gets a tiny bit better. 😊

  • 1
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    I view this as similar to the advice I give people when they ask questions: make it as easy as possible for people to help you.

    So in your case, a few thoughts:

    • Provide context on the project and why the XFN contribution is critical to the success
    • Thank them publicly and share updates with them (don't just ping them for questions/requests)
    • Explain the impact of the project and how it's very beneficial for them to help you.

    Finally, if you feel like no progress is being made, two things to consider:

    • Find other people on the team who may be able to help.
    • Escalate to your manager. Don't escalate in a way of being a tattletale -- instead you should describe what support you need, what you've tried, and then ask for input.