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How to get ahead by giving

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Photo credit: ouh_desire, Shutterstock

We recently introduced you to Adam Grant, the Wharton professor who promotes a spirit of giving in all he does. University of California Berkeley’s Greater Good has an excerpt from his upcoming book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, with 10 ways to get ahead through giving. Here are Grant’s first three ways:

1. Test Your Giver Quotient. We often live in a feedback vacuum, deprived of knowledge about how our actions affect others. So to help you start stepping up your giving, I’ve designed a series of free online tools that you can use to track your impact and assess your self-awareness. Along with filling out your own survey, you can invite people in your network to rate your reciprocity style, and you’ll receive data on how often you’re seen as a giver, taker, and matcher.

2. Run a Reciprocity Ring. What could be achieved in your organization—and what giving norms would develop—if groups of people got together weekly for 20 minutes to make requests and help one another fulfill them? This is a “Reciprocity Ring,” and you can learn more about how to start one in your organization by visiting Cheryl and Wayne Baker’s company, Humax, which offers a suite of social networking tools for individuals and organizations. They’ve created materials to run a Reciprocity Ring in person and a Ripplleffect tool for running it online. People typically come together in groups of 15 to 30. Each person presents a request to the group members, who make contributions, using their knowledge, resources, and connections to help fulfill the request.

3. Help Other People Craft Their Jobs—or Craft Yours to Incorporate More Giving. People often end up working on tasks that aren’t perfectly aligned with their interests and skills. A powerful way to give is to help others work on tasks that are more interesting, meaningful, or developmental. In 2011, a vice president named Jay at a large multinational retailer sent emails to each of his employees announcing a top-secret mission, with details to be shared on a need-to-know basis in one-on-one meetings. When employees arrived individually for the meetings, Jay asked them what they would enjoy doing that might also be of interest to other people. He then sent them out into the company to pursue their mission with three rules: It has to (1) appeal to at least one other person, (2) be low or no cost, and (3) be initiated by you.

Grant’s other ways include embracing the five-minute favor, joining a community of givers, and seeking help more often.

How do you work to give back? Do you think Grant’s research and ideas are interesting? What ways can you encourage a more giving spirit at your company?

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