Adam Grant is an American psychologist and one of the most authentic experts on the subject of organizational psychology. Adam earned his Ph.D. in his concentrated field from the University of Michigan in less than three years. Therefore, being just 28, he is currently the youngest professor in Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Adam’s pioneer research over different organizations and psychological patterns of professional behavior benefited millions of people.
Besides his inspirational and motivating talks, he provided corporate insight to many professionals in every field through his self-help books. Grant is the author of three New York Times best-selling books. His most recent one, ‘Give and Take’ especially focuses on how organizations can grow exponentially by promoting the culture of generosity, following the theme of his previous two books which highlighted the ways through which individuals champion new ideas and leaders fight group thinking.
This session also includes Adam’s intelligent perspective and factual study over the phenomenon of givers and takers in an organization along with their individual and collective impacts on the workplace. His charismatic way to deliver the message and perfect timing to insert intelligent humor is something which has made this session one of the most famous TED Talks around the world. The way Adam has simplified things for the audiences to understand without bombarding them with heavy corporate statistics is remarkable.
In fact, he started the session with a very interesting command, saying:
“I want you to look around the room for a minute and try to find the most paranoid person here.”
The audience responded with a sheer laugh which was his clue to come to his main point, which was the actual definition of ‘takers’ and ‘givers’. Adam explained it very simply.
According to his theory, in organizational structures, the takers always ask ‘What can you do for me?” while the givers always ask ‘what can I do for you?’. But there is also another type which comprises of people who believe in the ‘give and take’ theory. He named them as ‘matchers’ which is the most common kind of employees among these three kinds. He shared some very shocking results of multiple organizational which showed that both the worst and the best employer’s spot in most of the companies is occupied by Givers.
This led the talk towards the question of how to let the givers excel in the positive ways only. To answer this, he gave a reference to Adam Rifkin who is a very successful serial entrepreneur and spends a huge amount of his time helping other people.
“You don’t have to be Mother Teresa or Gandhi to be a giver. You just have to find small ways to add large value to other people’s lives.”
He raised another very important point next the help-seeking culture. Seeking help or asking many questions is what many people get afraid of due to the fear of being judged as incompetent. But, Adam highlighted how the giver always wants to invest the energy where it’s worth the most. Also, it’s very important to create a cooperative environment to encourage the generosity culture among the employees.
“Somewhere between 75 and 90 percent of all giving in organizations starts with a request.”
Adam didn’t stop here, he took one step ahead by explaining how one can actually build such productive team and helpful environment. His solution was interesting but not a very common one. Most people would suggest taking more and more givers on board to build a better team but Adam, on the other hand, wants to keep takers away instead. And he definitely has a point.
“The negative impact of a taker on a culture is usually double to triple the positive impact of a giver.”
It apparently seems impossible to recognize who are actually the ‘givers’ and the ‘takers’. But there must be some way to differentiate between them and choose the right kind of people to work with. To resolve that, Adam divided the givers and takers into two categories: agreeable and disagreeable. According to Adam, both the types lie in both the categories. The most interesting ones are disagreeable givers about which Adam said:
“Disagreeable givers are the most undervalued people in our organizations because they’re the ones who give the critical feedback that no one wants to hear but everyone needs to hear.”
Lastly, he reminded that the purpose to analyze all these characteristics and psychological patterns is basically to understand and value of the phenomenon of helping others. More interestingly, Adam connected our hesitation for doing efforts for others to paranoia as he quoted:
“The great thing about a culture of givers is that’s not a delusion — it’s reality. I want to live in a world where givers succeed, and I hope you will help me create that world.”