Givers, Matchers and Takers

I recently listened to a wonderful Ted talk by Adam Grant on Givers, Takers and Matchers and how people described by this metric fare in the workplace and how successful they and their businesses are. Yes it’s a metric, tedand yes that’s something to do with why I like what at first look reads like self-help/HR fuzz, ie: it’s well thought out and supported in evidence, rather than just being opinion masquerading as metaphor used literally.

Givers are the kinds of people who pitch in to help with others work, are generous with advice and open to sharing. Takers are the kinds who are self first and will collaborate only if it benefits their advancement. Matchers are the majority who will tailor their behaviour to the situation, balance their behaviour to the situation and/or share conservatively with their resources.

Intriguingly the statistics point out that the way to increase the success in your team is not to hire more givers but to weed out the takers. A single giver in a team will inspire collaboration in matchers. Conversely a single taker will create an environment of distrust and reluctance to share. Sharing in a taker environment leads to a feeling of idea theft and burnout for givers who end up doing the work of others rather than their own making them unproductive. It’s in these environments that givers rate as the most unproductive members of a team.

What was especially interesting was adding the agreeableness metric. I won’t regurgitate what Adam says much better than I can. However in listening to this really gave me cause to rethink my many work places that I’ve worked in over the years and how I and my teams have functioned.

I truly believe that it’s the responsibility of management to manage the dynamic of their team to achieve results. It’s also true that often middle management is promoted without any supportive training. I do find it difficult to support the opting out that management does with regards to team dynamics. My thought is that it is created by

  1. Senior management regarding managing as either a reactive task or a logistical one
  2. Middle management not having the opportunity to prioritise team dynamics and falling back on solo projects and reactive leadership

Of course I’ve encountered many managers over the years who were very team orientated and it’s been a dream for similar reasons.  I also think this applies to corporate, amateur and government organisations alike.

Anyway Adam Grant’s lectures are short fun and evocative and well worth a listen. Enjoy!

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