When you get into an interesting conversation with a member of your team, whether that’s a direct report or someone you meet less often – maybe even for the first time – it’s likely that at least some of what makes it interesting are the problems they’re working on and what they’re doing to overcome the issue. Could be technical, could be getting hold of the right person, could be politics, whatever.

Rather than treat as an interesting distraction, get on board and offer to contribute. When you ask, How can I help?, you’re actually asking them to expose the biggest issues and the places where their smarts are being outgunned by lack of leverage.

It might be something as simple as making an introduction, releasing funding, shining a light or working at the whiteboard. And it might just save them six months.

Skippy strategy: If it sounds interesting, How can I help?