“Times have changed. Have You?”
Many, many books have been written over the years about how to succeed in business; most of them old school. An exception is a new book by Dr. Adam Grant, a professor at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania titled, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. His research led him to believe that our relationships play an even more important role in individual success today.
We all grew up under the teachings of the old school on individual success in the corporate world. Many of these teachings were shallow, but effective, like when you move around, always walk fast. This creates the image that you are industrious, busy, hard working, and ambitious. Laugh if you want, but it works.
We were taught to treat the boss as your customer because he/she controls our chances at promotion and salary increases. We were taught to view our co-workers as competitors as we had to beat them out for that promotion. This led to hoarding information and political infighting.
A friend of mine, Bob Killeen who was the Regional Director for United Auto Workers, once said, “You can’t lead a union today like you did in the ‘30s, just like you can’t manage today like you did in the 30s.” Are you working as your ancestors did in the 30s or are you adapting to modern approaches?
Dr. Grant describes three major trends in interpersonal relationships that give rise to increased opportunities for innovative referrals and promotions.
- People are increasingly being asked to work on project teams and strong interpersonal skills greatly enhance the chances of success for the team.
- We are in the midst of a shift to a knowledge and service economy. Understanding and caring about the needs of the customer, both external and internal, make or break your chances for success. Whoever uses your output is your customer.
- On-line social networks expose you for the world to see. Word of mouth has always been important but now its importance is exploding with the widespread use of various electronic networks.
Grant describes three types of workers, Takers, Matchers, and Givers. Takers look out for #1, Matchers strive to trade evenly, and Givers contribute to others without expecting anything in return. The Givers become the most valuable asset for any organization. Some thoughts on how to become more of a Giver are:
- Become an active listener. Focus on the customer or speaker, look him/her in the eyes, and understand the point they are trying to make. Follow up to ensure that you understand correctly.
- Be willing to give more than you receive by sharing information, contacts, and ideas.
- Understand areas where you can help. Use your area of expertise such as marketing, social media, networking, etc. to provide assistance or teaching to others.
- Find ways to enhance the fun in your workplace. Make life more enjoyable for others. Do not be super critical of management, co-workers, customers or anyone else.
Now more than ever, the Golden Rule applies to help us become more successful in our careers and personal life. Someone once said we harvest what we sow and that is very apparent in today’s workplace. Besides, it makes you feel good.