Busy co-workers and supervisors are ... well ... busy. They may be putting out a "Don't bother me now" vibe that has stopped you from asking for the help or information you need. Or maybe you're afraid you'll come off as not knowing your job if you request their guidance.
Rest assured, they would rather prevent your mistake before it happens than let you go cluelessly ahead and then have to clean up the mess afterwards. In fact, most people are flattered when their expertise is sought.
Here are three better ways to get a positive response when requesting a colleague's input.
"Do you have five minutes?" sounds a lot more doable to even the busiest person. The shorter time frame you can designate, the better. That's why asking for a working lunch or dinner is usually not successful: it takes too long. But be realistic with how much time it will take to get everything you need. Running beyond your allotted time will make a very bad impression.
Before you ask, take a few minutes to really boil down exactly what you need to know, so your supervisor can answer in just a few words with minimum brain power. Don't ask general, open-ended questions that require a doctoral dissertation to explain. Best case scenario: one that can be answered "yes" or "no."
This wording makes it difficult for them to avoid you. Saying "never" makes them look like a bad manager/trainer. It also shows consideration for their valuable time. If your boss is busiest in the morning, ask if the two of you can get together in the afternoon. A definite meeting time scheduled on the calendar will eliminate the possibility of being put off from one day to the next.
Remember, it's in the company's best interest, not just yours, if you're enabled to do a better job, so it also benefits your co-workers when you seek instruction. Go ahead and ask!