Generally speaking, companies have two sets of employees: those who are givers and those who are takers. While the individuals who fall into the former category are quick to help their coworkers, takers view their peers as stepping stones to their next positions.
Givers routinely spend more time than they’re required to in the office because they genuinely want their peers to become stronger and they care about their organizations. Often, the generosity of givers hurts their own performance while improving the performance of the organization as a whole.
Takers, on the other hand, will throw anyone under the bus at a moment’s notice if it makes themselves appear more desirable. They aren’t too interested in whether their companies are making progress and growing. Instead, they have their eyes on the corner office and will do anything to get there one day.
If given the choice, which kind of worker would you rather have at your organization?
It comes as no surprise that givers are the kind of employees that make companies stronger. In a recent TED Talk, organizational psychologist Adam Grant spoke about the benefits of having an organization staffed by givers — and what companies can do to increase the chances they find themselves in that position.
Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to figure out whether an employee is a giver or a taker before it’s too late. After all, every candidate tries their hardest to put on their best face during the interview process. They’re displaying the version of themselves they’re trying to sell — which doesn’t always mimic the person who ends up doing the actual work after they’ve been hired.
Is it possible to figure out whether someone is a giver or a taker during the interview process? Grant believes it is.
“My favorite way to catch these people in the interview process is to ask the question, ‘Can you give me the names of four people whose careers you have fundamentally improved?’” Grant said in his TED Talk. “The takers will give you four names, and they will all be more influential than them, because takers are great at kissing up and then kicking down.”
Givers, on the other hand, “are more likely to name people who are below them in a hierarchy, who don’t have as much power, who can do them no good. And let’s face it, you all know you can learn a lot about character by watching how someone treats their restaurant server or their Uber driver.”
Grant imagines a future where the very meaning of the word “success” is redefined. By creating a company filled with givers, success is no longer a competition but is instead measured by an individual’s contribution to the rest of the organization. It’s not hard to see how successful a company could become when every employee is working hard to support their colleagues all the time.
Next time your sit down to interview candidates for an open position, consider asking them the question Grant provides to see whether you can figure out if they’re givers or takers. If Grant turns out to be right, your company will become stronger as more people who want to help their colleagues first and foremost join your team.