Organizational psychology has long concerned itself with how to design work so that people will enjoy it and want to keep doing it. Traditionally the thinking has been that employers should appeal to workers’ more obvious forms of self-interest: financial incentives, yes, but also work that is inherently interesting or offers the possibility for career advancement. Grant’s research, which has generated broad interest in the study of relationships at work and will be published for the first time for a popular audience in his new book, “Give and Take,” starts with a premise that turns the thinking behind those theories on its head. The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.
Susan Dominus, Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?
A deep piece on the research and personality traits of Adam Grant, Warton Business School professor and the author of the soon-to-be-released Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, in which he argues that a sense of service to others — an almost obsessive focus on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives — may be the single greatest key to productivity, much greater than trying only to help ourselves.
Read the case study that started his career: as a sales lead at an academic fundraising call center, bringing in a student who benefitted from that fundraising, and letting him tell the callers, directly, of how it had changed his life, led to enormous gains in their productivity, gains that could not be explained by other factors, even when the callers themselves were unaware of that motivation, or actively pooh-poohed it.