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Whether we are business owners or employees, we all strive (or wish for) a pleasant, productive and happy work environment. A place where we feel accomplished and appreciated, where we can grow and succeed. At one time or another, most of us have worked at a place, where the culture wasn’t conducive to our happiness and success. Personally, when I think back to the jobs that I held that I did not enjoy wholeheartedly, I immediately think of specific people that made my time at those organizations less than enjoyable.

I recently came across an eye-opening TED talk by Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and a professor at Wharton who specializes in collaboration, generosity and organizational behaviour to list a few. The talk is entitled “Are you a giver or a taker?” In this talk, Adam Grant categorizes people into givers, takers and matchers, and he shows us how the different traits of these categories affect work environments and ultimately the bottom lines of organizations. He defines givers as people who most frequently approach the majority of their relationships with a question: “What can I do for you?” In contrast, takers are those who approach most interactions with “What can you do for me?”. The neutral type of matchers follow the “quid pro quo” mantra as their preferred style of interaction with others.

In his talk, Adam Grant presents research results showcasing which personality traits succeed more in which type of organizational culture, perhaps with some surprising results. Takers seem to be the most efficient in their own personal work but they don’t necessarily improve the organizations they work in. Givers, depending on the environment, can be either the least efficient, or the most.  But this depends on the makeup of a team or organization. Adam Grant gives us a formula for such a successful team, and a single job interview question to weed out candidates with undesirable traits from being hired. According to him, givers are the largest contributors to the overall success of companies (as long as the organizational culture is conducive to their traits).

I don’t want to give away too much of the presentation in this blog, instead, I encourage you to watch this short and informative talk yourself by following this link: http://www.ted.com/talks/adam_grant_are_you_a_giver_or_a_taker#t-103594

Written by Bea Dabrowski, March 31, 2017