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Adam Grant: Give and Take

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Thomas Smith

Workforce Management

Adam Grant: Give and Take

The book “Give and Take” gives elements of Human Resource Development, as well as the importance of powerless communication and how being a “Giver,” can be rewarding for your career as long as you manage expectations and can achieve an aggressive mindset in negotiating your salary. In determining whether we give or take depends on the specific situation. Our giving style is fluid. We shape and change it regularly, even without realizing it. So, no matter which type you lean, it’s never too late to switch from one to another. Most of the time we’re told to be confident, to speak up, to assert ourselves, and sometimes, that’s necessary. However, Adam Grant says there’s nothing more convincing than giving up power. When you communicate powerlessly, you don’t focus on what’s in it for you. In true “Giver” fashion, you focus on the other person, and you ask questions and seek advice.

The few key takeaways from the book that will benefit my career are the knowledge that although some Givers are always at the top of every success ladder, there are also some givers at the bottom. The givers at the bottom did not know where to draw the line. To avoid being a doormat leader, Adam Grant explained the necessity for givers to create boundaries around their giving to prevent burn-out. Another takeaway pertains to Powerless Communication and is a topic that has touched me personally and will be a big focus. At my previous work, I was passed up for a promotion to an Advisor Client Services associate based on my inability to be assertive in the interview process. I was also passed up for promotions four more times for other roles within the company. It wasn’t until reading this book I realize in my workplace interactions that I demonstrated powerless communication techniques and I gave feedback I felt the firm desperately needed to hear. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of my career and my future pursuit of graduate school.

My assessment for “giver quotient” is as follows: I am a 40% Taker, 40% Matcher, and 20% Giver. I don’t feel this accurately reflects my reciprocity style since I am typically generous with my time when people ask. I do feel a 40% in the “Matcher” quotient resonates as I do possess a “Tit-for-Tat” mentality if I feel I have done something beneficial, I expect this will come to profit me in the way of good Karma. On the other hand, I do not feel that a 40% in the “Taker” quotient is reflective of my personality since this gives the impression that almost half the time, I am selfish and thinking of ways that only benefit myself. I don’t feel this portrays my attitude since I am a team player and not the type of person you would expect to approach a situation with a bull-headed approach. I have donated to charities and committed time and energy on projects throughout the community including Habitat for Humanity, Westside Cares, The Humane Society and also as Treasurer for Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity.

In the Financial Services industry, where being a licensed broker required me to bring in leads or generate sales for the company, my “giver quotient” would match those of my peers. At a 20% “giver quotient” you would expect my behavior to replicate someone like Gordon Gecko from the movie Wall Street, but in the Finance field, where most individuals rank near the lowest regarding social responsibility, I feel that this matches with my peers in the industry. The reason is that a competitive work environment has metrics measured, and we are compared against our peers, want to stand out, and be a valuable member of the team. The time spent devoted to assisting a colleague is a time not spent generating leads and commissions. A 40% “Matcher” in the “giver quotient” would correspond accurately in Finance, as typically a colleague who would ask for assistance regarding any sales or related activities would expect that they would also benefit by splitting the lead. A common occurrence amongst peers in Sales may also include colleagues split commissions on a deal depending on the level of activity imposed on the employee.

The findings from the experiments conducted by Rosenthal, Jacobson, Eden, and McNatt for specific Human Resource functions such as recruitment, selection, employee training, and performance management would have significant implications. The reason is that the “Diamond in the Rough” according to Adam Grant, is the “Disagreeable Givers,” and these individuals are hard to spot. Additionally, these individuals wouldn’t benefit during the recruitment and selection process because they would be giving feedback nobody wants to hear and harming his or her chances during the interview process. When hiring a candidate, you want to make sure you are putting the best person in



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