Dr Adam Grant, management professor at Wharton, wrote a book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. If you are on my mailing list and read my “Customer Care Tip” I’m going to take a wild guess that you are someone who has long ago embraced the idea of “giving”. When I recently saw an article written about givers by friend and fellow happiness coach Amanda Horne in Australia, I asked if I might share it with you and she agreed. Amanda has a great way of getting me to read more by delivering highlights and tidbits of an article or book that make me want more.
When you think about great teamwork, you’re likely to be thinking about collaboration, support, sharing, helping, co-operation and cohesiveness. But would you also be thinking givers, takers and matchers? Here is some food for thought and something to whet the appetite.
Cultures of Giving
Grant draws together many years of his and others’ research on reciprocity and pro-social motivation. He suggests that corporate cultures sit on a continuum with ‘giver cultures’ and ‘taker cultures’ at the extremes, and matcher cultures around the midpoint.
help others but expect an equal amount of help in return. They give to people who they think will help them in return.
ask for help and give little or nothing in return. They tend to claim personal credit for success for example saying ‘me’ and ‘I’, rather than ‘we’ and ‘us’. They tend to ‘kiss up and kick down’ and seek to come out ahead.
are guided by pro-social motivation, “the desire to help others, independent of easily foreseeable payback”. Givers “add value without keeping score”, they do not expect immediate gain. The most successful givers care highly for others but also have some self-interest such as attending to their work and other needs. They give in ways that reinforce social ties.
Givers set boundaries to ensure giving has maximum impact and joy, without burning out or compromising their work commitments. They are cautious about giving to takers. Givers are motivated by a sense of service and contribution and are more productive when they think of helping others. Grant found however that givers are not successful if they lack assertiveness, become a doormat, or burn out by excessively giving. [JB Note: I loved that part!]
Reaping the Rewards
Dr Grant’s work reveals that businesses benefit from effective ‘giver’ behaviors. Improvements include:
- Group effectiveness, cohesion, coordination
- Interpersonal networks
- Sales performance, revenues
- Client satisfaction
- Problem solving
- Staff retention, job satisfaction, sense of belonging, pride
- Personal success
“The greatest untapped source of motivation, Grant argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples’ lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves”
Creating a Giving Culture
Grant suggests that people in leadership positions can:
- Encourage reciprocity: it’s ok to seek help; it’s good to give; pay it forward
- Help givers to set boundaries. Guide them to be perspective takers if they are prone to lacking assertiveness or to being overwhelmed with excessive empathy which can cloud their judgment
- Guide giving behavior in the direction of best impact: helping others whilst protecting one’s own work commitments
- Emphasize the intrinsic motivation which occurs when being a giver
- Help staff to match their own expertise and resources to others’ needs
- Implement reward and recognition systems which favor givers
- Role model giving behaviors
- Design jobs to connect the role directly to the recipient, client and to a sense of purpose
- Screen out takers; minimize the number of taker employees
Thanks Amanda! I know that Customer-Caring cultures already have so many of these characteristics- and you’ve helped my readers find ways to make them even better.
Amanda Horne is an Executive Coach, Group & Team Coach, Facilitator www.amandahorne.com.au
Linked In: Amanda Horne
Adam Grant is an award-winning teacher, researcher, and tenured management professor at Wharton. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Michigan in organizational psychology and his B.A. from Harvard University, magna cum laude with highest honours, Phi Beta Kappa honours, and the John Harvard Scholarship for highest academic achievement. Dr. Grant has been recognised as the single highest-rated professor in the Wharton MBA program, one of BusinessWeek’s favourite professors, and one of the world’s top 40 business professors under 40. Wharton MBA program
Information about Adam Grant’s book: