As a leader of a growing business, the single most important thing you can do to ensure your success is to invest in building a culture of givers, says Adam Grant, author of the book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success.
Givers are the kinds of people who will go out of their way to help others with no strings attached. This is in comparison to matchers--those who believe in an eye for an eye--and takers--people who are always trying to get as much as they can out of others.
Grant, a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, spoke about his research on these three character profiles Wednesday at the annual Inc. 5000 conference in Phoenix.
Grant found that overly generous people tend to fail in the short term, but succeed in the long run. Their failures are due to the fact that they often get trampled by the takers around them. However, if you as a leader, can weed out the greedy ones, you can pave the way for your employees', and your organization's, long-term success.
Below are four tips from Grant for building a culture of givers.
1. Get the right people on the bus
If you put a taker on a team you'll quickly see paranoia spread among your employees, Grant said. That's why it's important to keep takers from ever getting through the doors of your organization.
But this doesn't mean you should just look to hire nice people. Identifying a taker involves looking a little deeper. "Agreeableness is your outer veneer. Is it pleasant to interact with you? Whereas giving and taking are your inner motives. What are you intentions toward other people?"
For example, takers have no trouble being nice to your face but behaving selfishly behind your back.
What you want is a disagreeable giver--one who will tell it like it is without regard for your feelings, but only because he or she has the best intentions for your organization at heart.
When hiring, one of the best ways to figure out who's who is to turn to a candidate's peers and subordinates for a references, Grant recommended. These are the people have most likely seen that person's true colors.
2. Redefine giving
Giving shouldn't mean that you or your employees say yes to absolutely everything that comes your way. It's as important as ever to be efficient with your time when you're being generous with it.
Decide how you want to give in a way that aligns with your expertise, Grant advised. He pointed to Adam Rifkin, an engineer from Silicon Valley, as someone who does this really well. Rifkin, whom Fortune magazine once named the best networker on LinkedIn, wanted to think of a high impact way that he could give back. He settled on putting his huge network to use by making a manageable three introductions every single day.
Rifkin demonstrated that by micro-loaning your time and your expertise, you can make an impact without running the risk of burn out.
3. Change your reward system
One of Grant's favorite examples of a company changing its reward system comes from Corning, creator of the Gorilla Glass that's used in leading smartphones. Through its fellows program, Corning offered a scientist's dream: a lab for life.
But Corning set the bar for the honor incredibly high. The company asks each candidate if they've been the lead author on a patent that drives at least $100 million in revenue. If so, they're put into the candidate pool. Then Corning asks the candidate is if he or she is a supporting author on others' patents.
"Corning says you've got to do both. You've go to drive your own successful innovation, but also you are making other people's innovation better," Grant said. "Those are the kinds of dual rewards schemes that we need to see."
4. Build a culture of help-seeking
Seventy-five to 90 percent of helping starts with a request, but people still hesitate to ask, according to Grant.
He said that one of the best ways to rectify this is to get people to ask for help using a crowdsourcing method called the Reciprocity Ring. The Reciprocity Ring involves a group of people with different backgrounds and expertise. Everyone in the ring is required to ask for something--and this means everyone.
"When the whole room is making requests, it's not uncomfortable," Grant said.
And when everyone's requests are out in the open, individuals in the group can decide which ones they're best equipped to handle based on their expertise. And make no mistake. Everyone will give, Grant says.
"The takers actually start giving because everybody's contributions are visible and they worry that if they don't volunteer to help anyone, they're going to get caught."
The end result? Employees will get on board with the idea of building a culture of givers, Grant said. That's because they'll see that if they give more, everyone can get more of what they want.