In his Motivational TED Talk, Are you a Giver or a Taker? Adam Grant talks about how organizational productivity is affected by employees who are self-serving or called, Takers.
In his best- selling leadership book, Give and Take, Grant defines self-serving people as those who are always asking, What can you do for me?
Givers are the people who more often ask, What can I do for you?
However, most people are right in the middle, called
Matchers. They naturally look for a balance between the give and take. If someone does something for them, they feel compelled to return the favor.
Which is more productive? Givers, Takers or
Grant has studied thousands of people from engineers, sales people, and physicians. He found that the least individually productive were the givers because they were so busy doing other people favors that they had nothing left to complete there own work.
For instance, for physicians in medical school, those least likely to succeed were the ones who had compassionate statements on their applications like, I Love Helping Others.
Grants research also reveals from a team standpoint, teams who readily help others are more productive and engaged.
Thus the conundrum, group giving and contribution leads to overall greater satisfaction but individuals with helping personalities destroy their own productivity.
Grants research also confirmed that givers were the worst performers, but takers were not the best. Usually, people catch on to a self-serving team member and learn to disconnect, so their overall productivity falls.
Thus, to boost morale, engagement and productivity- givers are your most valuable people in overall terms, but they usually burn out.
The trick is to balance the givers and the takers, Grant offer the following tips:
Create a culture where helping others is considered normal. In this culture, people freely help others and don't expect reciprocity. Work is framed as a collective goal, where individual success
isn't favored over group success.
Successful givers also know how to ask for help.
75-90 percent of all giving starts with a request. In many cultures asking for help is challenging because people don't want to burden others. Thus, the culture tends to become separated into three groups where the givers get burnt
out, takers take and the matchers are always keeping score.
Weed out the Takers. Grants research illustrates the negative impact of a taker on the culture is double or triple the impact of the
giver. If you allow takers on your team, they will quickly poison the givers. Ultimately, the givers will give up as morale and productivity drop.
Often, when a team welcomes a helping personality to the group, the natural tendency is to hand over more work to them, because they are so keen. Leaders have to be aware of any off balance shifts of work and correct them quickly.
A well-balanced culture of givers and matches will allow
givers to give and not feel like they will be taken advantage of because matchers will always look to even the score. Add takers to the mix, and they will throw off the whole thing.
The Five Minute Favor. A Simple five-minute act of kindness that adds value to others lives. The 5-minute timeframe helps givers protect their boundaries.
Ultimately, you want to create a culture where success is more about contribution, not individual success.
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