You’re either a giver or a taker. I’ve had several personal and professional experiences over the past year that have confirmed this belief. Though it seems like the difference between the two would be easy to spot from the get-go, sometimes takers deceivingly mask themselves as givers.
In collaborative work environments, it is especially important to seek out givers in order to create an atmosphere where individuals want to contribute to the overall success of the team and company, rather than just their own success. Of course, it’s always important to be an advocate for your own career, but not at the expense of others.
I recently read Give and Take by Adam Grant, which defines people as falling into three groups when it comes to their attitude about reciprocity:
- Takers. They like to get more than they give. It’s a zero-sum game, which means that for them to win, others must lose. They are all about self-promotion and want to make sure they get the credit.
- Givers. They like to give more than they get. They help others when the benefits to others exceed their personal costs.
- Matchers. They like to balance. They take and give in equilibrium, practicing quid pro quo.
Givers tend to be more successful for a number of reasons, which is consistent with what I tell my interns and new graduates. Because you never know when a contact might be helpful in the future, never burn a bridge, and always do your best to be honest, hardworking and above board. Over time, you build your own reputation and a network that will benefit you.
Here are some tips to help identify people who are givers — at least most of the time — and will add value to your organization:
Observe How They Interact With Junior Staff
How people interact with others they perceive to be more junior to them is a good indication of how they will conduct themselves over time. Someone once told me to “always be especially nice to the executive assistants,” which was great advice because it has helped me more than once to get things done effectively in corporate environments. Is this person dismissive to interns, or are they interested in including these members of the team? If you can gauge how a potential hire might interact with others and treat them on a day-to-day basis, you should be able to get a good sense of how they’ll mesh with the team.
Home In On Trustworthiness
This can be tricky to assess. But if you can figure out if this person can be trusted, you’ll have a good indicator of what their give/take style is. The tough part about trustworthiness is that this is mostly gut instinct based on your limited interactions with this person. Ask yourself: Do they appear to be hiding something or not portraying their experience as it really happened? If you feel like a response is vague, drill down on it until you get your answer.
Assess Questions Asked In The Interview
Pay attention to the kinds of questions a potential candidate asks because this can tell a lot about a person. Are they most interested in the culture and team style? Do they ask about how you collaborate with clients and partners? Do they talk about their experience as part of a team in a positive light? If not, they probably aren’t the right fit for the position.
Remember That Personal Time And Connection To Family And Friends Is Important
I always find it interesting to see what people do in their free time. Do they volunteer or help others? Do they enjoy connections with family and friends? Are they involved in professional or political organizations? While not a foolproof indicator, it does help you understand the kind of person they are and how they may interact with others within your organization.
Although there is really no guaranteed way to know what kind of an employee a candidate will be, the give-or-take rule seems to be a strong indicator of someone’s long-term success within your organization.