Go ahead: be a giver

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant is an optimistic book with relevant and heart-warming lessons for us in the support community.

The main thesis of the book is that that generous people (whom Grant calls “givers”) can enjoy better success than selfish ones (he calls them “takers”), at least in the long run — and if we conveniently forget that most givers do finish last, as common wisdom suggests and the author conveniently sweeps under the carpet, but of course we in support are in the winning givers category.

Even with the caveats, it’s wonderful to see proof that nice people can enjoy success that stems specifically from their generosity. And good to see that harmonious work relationships improve performance of surgeons and others who depend on larger teams.

Here are some practical ideas from the book:

  • Encourage personalized work. For instance, share pictures of customers as it increases the care given to each case.
  • Run a reciprocity ring: get a group together for 20 minutes to allow everyone to make requests and help others fulfill theirs. Sounds all hippy-like but I can see a troubleshooting help market taking shape here…
  • Start a love machine peer recognition. Yes, the book really calls it love machine but you don’t have to! I remember many years ago having a group recognition award for a large support team that was decided by public ballot, gathered wonderful nominations, and was immensely popular.
  • Embrace the 5-minute favor. For instance, introduce two people who don’t know each other but have interests in common. It seems that I start most days doing something like this!
  • Seek help more often. Hard for some of us to practice, but good to give others the opportunity to do that five-minute favor…
  • Give in small increments, don’t “chunk”. This one was a little counter-intuitive for me, but it seems that smaller, sustained giving makes more of an impact.

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