The final session of CIPD14 is the keynote from Adam Grant about the world from the perspective of give and take. He says that some people take, some match and some give without any expectation of return. Here’s more of what he says….
Adam’s an Organisational Psychologist and is often asked to go in after members of exec have been fired. He notices the paranoia in these places where people are convinced that someone is out to get them.
HR leaders play a critical role in fighting paranoia. If you’re already owning that, how can you spread that with others?
In the world TAKERS are great at social loafing and taking the credit for combined effort that they’ve played little part in.
GIVERS are people who enjoy helping others, often with no strings attached, they give generously of their knowledge and make introductions. We like to feel we’re making a social contribution. But we also know there are takers out there so we reserve Giving for those close to us.
Which leads to those who sit in the middle. The MATCHERS keep the give and take in balance – accounting applies to every relationship they have in life. Wanting social credits and debits to come to zero.
We all do all 3 of these but we will do one of them more of the time.
Narcissists are the obvious Takers but some Takers are the Matchers and Givers who’ve been burnt too many times – it’s dog eat dog and if I don’t put myself first nobody else will. The 3rd type is the psychopath – not one that’s being discussed today.
Engineers – what happens to performance if you do more favours than you get back
Medicine – what happens to grades in medical school based on how much you want to help others
Sales – what happens to your revenue if you devote time to helping customers and colleagues
The results – Givers are the worst performers. They’re so busy helping others they don’t have time to do their own work. And they also don’t talk about it – they’re modest people.
HR are often Givers – making lives better for others at their own expense. Orgs depend heavily on givers – they’re good citizens – they fuel creativity and innovation – they do lots that’s not in their job descriptions.
Trouble is Givers can just be seen as do-gooders and a sign of weakness.
So, the best performers?
It’s not Takers – they will rise fast, but fall fast. The Matchers believe in an eye for an eye. They believe that people’s time will come. If you’re a true Matcher you’ll want to punish Takers to bring their downfall. A common approach is to gossip about the bad Taker to ensure they get their just deserts.
However, the other Takers also don’t like Takers. The people who blow the whistle loudest on the Takers are Takers themselves to remove their competition from the field.
But the thing is, not only are Givers most prevalent in the bottom 25% in performance, they’re also most prevalent in the top 25%!
So how do some do well while others fail?
Example he uses is Kat Cole – being a Giver dropped her performance early on but she gained a breadth of experience which stood her in good stead for the future and enabled her to be a perfect leader for the future who understood the whole business.
Tips to create a Giver culture –
1. Selection – screen out the Takers – Matchers will follow the norm so if surrounded by Givers & Matchers, giving will spread. So hire Disagreeable Givers – the people who will give the challenge but with the intent of helping the team and the business.
You really want to screen out the Agreeable Takers who tend to kiss up and kick down. You can spot them by the boss references being different to references from peers and subordinates. They spend a lot of time talking about ‘me’ and ‘I’, they’ll take credit for what’s gone well, and blame others for failures.
A way to spot Takers is to ask – how many people steal £10 in a given month? We ask ourselves ‘What do I do?’ and project that out onto others. So Takers will assume others steal a lot too, whereas Givers will assume nobody would ever steal.
2. Redefine Giving – don’t be Mother Theresa of Ghandi – it’s not sustainable. Do 5 minute favours. A small way of adding large value to others’ lives. E.g. tech guy in Silicone Valley focused on connecting 3 people on LinkedIn a day for the last 5 years. He enjoys doing this and, as an introvert, can do this on LinkedIn without lots of conversation. Now as an expert in this, that’s what people come to him for. So focus your giving in areas that matter to you and that you want to spend your time doing.
3. Change your Reward System – what giving behaviours are right for your org & then find a way to reward those.
4. Encourage Help-Seeking – stop people feeling worried about looking vulnerable. The successful Givers ask for help. Plus if people don’t ask for help you’ll have a lot of frustrated Givers in the org who don’t know who they can help. Role model this as a leader so others follow. A great way to do this is to bring the team together and get them to ask questions of the team and how they can use their networks to help solve the problem – a Reciprocity Ring. It also encourages innovation as different perspectives are brought into the challenge. It works because everyone asks so it’s not about being vulnerable. Plus it smokes out the Takers who become more generous. Everyone walks away realising if you act more like Givers you’ll get more help to achieve what you want.
And a final thought, successful Giving cultures have people experiencing Pro-noia instead of paranoia – where people believe others are plotting behind their back to support their success. Sounds like a pretty good place to be!
I believe in people being the key to success in a business and that success is unlocked by great bosses. I’m an Executive Coach for SME leaders to help create success for you, for your team, for your business.
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