Trending: Collaborative Generosity

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Competition among employees

Collaboration among employees

Several recent studies and a best selling new book are prompting more conversations about how to promote a culture of collaboration and helpfulness in workplaces.

Adam Grant  is an organizational psychiatrist whose research demonstrates that helping others has great rewards for the help-er, not just the person receiving the help. He has also proven that a culture of generosity can yield extraordinary gains for organizations.

From a New York Times article of his work:

“The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.”

Journalist Susan Dominus concludes:

“At a minimum, Grant’s example presents a bright-line rule: Unless the person on the other end is a proven taker, just do it — collaborate, offer up, grant the favor.”

Additionally, a recent Harvard Business Review cover story spotlights the culture at the design firm IDEO, which is characterized by “a dynamic process of seeking and giving feedback, ideas and assistance” to colleagues.

Two keys for their success:

1) Hiring for collaborative attitudes. “During job interviews…when people repeatedly say ‘I’ not ‘we’, when recounting their accomplishments, I get suspicious”, says CEO Tim Brown.

2) Avoid overloaded work schedules. “A certain amount of give in employees’ schedules pays off because the accessibility of potential help is very important. It allows people to engage with one another’s work in unplanned ways.”

Curious about whether or not you are a giver, taker or somewhere in between? Take Grant’s free quiz here. Want to start the conversation in your school? Use the book’s discussion questions to help get the ball rolling with your boss or colleagues.

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Categories: Stage 1: Adult Learning and Leadership

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