Are You A Taker In The Workplace?

Recently watched this TED Talk by organisational psychologist, Adam Grant, about personalities in the workplace. People in the workplace can be categorised into three basic types: the giver, the taker and the matcher. Knowing these personalities and how they affect your work culture and the productivity (plus overall happiness) is key, which is why the interview process plus creating the right kind of company culture is important.

We all know who the takers are: they claim credit for everything (even if it’s not really their contribution) and they never willingly help others if they do not gain something in return. Yup, these are the narcissists also known as the self-servers. Their thinking process is, “What can you do for me?” They are also the paranoid ones in the workplace, according to Grant.

The opposite is obviously the giver. Nonetheless, we do have a style that is a mix of both but which do you tend to lean more towards? Your ‘default’ is the one which you lean more towards. Which is why, from a survey that Grant did across industries and cultures, most people fall within the category of “matchers” where they give and take equally.

Seems fair, but as Grant questioned, is it the most efficient and productive manner to live our lives?

Interestingly, there is an equal number of givers at both the most and least productive/profitable/efficient ends of the spectrum. Givers are really the most valuable people in one’s workplace but why are so many of them underperforming? Turns out that the givers who were underperforming were doing so due to burnout.

Practical advice for us who want to be more of a giver? “You don’t have to be Gandhi or Mother Theresa to be a giver. You just have to find small ways,” as given by serial entrepreneur Adam Rifkin.

What about creating a proper work culture for givers? Grant advises companies to encourage help-seeking between colleagues. When people feel comfortable to seek and receive help from others, it helps to make people act like givers. In fact, the data shows that more than 90% of giving starts with a request.

Seems easy to then just hire a bunch of givers, right? Wrong. It is more important to ensure that a taker is not onboard with your team as it only takes one taker to slowly change the givers’ attitudes and behaviour in the workplace as they will just stop giving.

As Grant rightly pointed out, “Success is really more about contribution. The most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed.” If everyone helped each other instead of being paranoid about backstabbing or politicking, it would benefit all.

So, are you a giver or a taker?

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