To Seek or Not to Seek: The Relationship Between Help Seeking and Job Performance Evaluations as Moderated by Task-Relevant Expertise

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Abstract

The present study explored the relationship between level of employees’ help-seeking behavior and their overall job evaluations. It was hypothesized that employees would seek more help from others whom they perceive as more knowledgeable than they are and that they would seek more help from superiors than from coworkers. Regarding the link between amount of help seeking and performance evaluations, it was predicted that the relationship between amount of help seeking and evaluations of overall job performance are curvilinear and affected by the perceived expertise of the helper. Study participants were employees of a chemical plant, and they reported on the amount of help seeking that they engaged in with superiors and coworkers. Data on the perceived expertise of the help seeker and the help giver in any helping interaction were collected. Most recent job performance evaluations as reported by participants’ superiors served as a measure of job performance. The analyses indicate that in line with prediction, the relationships between help seeking and performance evaluations were curvilinear. These relationships were moderated by the help seeker's relative task-relevant expertise. The theoretical implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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