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Adam Grant

How to Build a Culture of Givers: 4 Tips

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.