How Leaders Create a Giving Culture

Tips from Adam Grant on how to ensure that you're creating a culture of giving in your own organization.

While a true giving culture in the workplace is fueled by authentic desire to help others with no expectation of personal return, leaders can do much to transform their current office climate, according to social scientist Adam Grant.

Here are three actions to accelerate the process:

Screen out takers. “Most people think that if you want a culture of givers, you should select a bunch of givers, but data show that’s not the right way to go,” he says. “Far more important is to screen out takers than to select givers, the reason being that the negative impact of a taker on a culture is typically two to three times greater than the deposit back to a culture by a giver.”

A workforce mixture of matchers and givers prompts givers to be more generous because they don’t worry about takers, while matchers trend toward giving. That shifts the entire culture toward greater helpfulness.

Redefine reward-worthy performance. “For givers to thrive and for people to be motivated to give, it’s critical to ensure there are ways of valuing contributions people make to others, not just what they achieve on their own,” Grant says. “That means rethinking performance evaluations and promotions criteria, as well as how people get compensated, to account for whether your achievements had a positive impact on others.”

Model the ask. “If you never ask … you deprive the givers in your organization the opportunity to have a clear direction for their energies and skills,” he says. “If you want a culture of giving, you also need a culture of ‘help speaking.’ This starts at the top with leaders being willing to admit they don’t have all the answers and asking team members for input, ideas, and suggestions.”

Adam Grant will explain how to create a giving culture during his Opening General Session at the 2014 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exhibition, August 9–12, in Nashville. To register, visit www.asaecenter.org/annualmeeting.


Kristin Clarke, CAE

By Kristin Clarke, CAE

Kristin Clarke, CAE, is books editor for Associations Now and president of Clarke Association Content. MORE

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