Helping Leads to Successful Careers

Helping is scarce in many organizations.
People need help.
They are reluctant to raise their hands.


  • Individualized performance management systems
  • Hidden agendas
  • History and scar tissue
  • Politics
  • Expectations of reciprocity
  • Burnout

And yet, helping is the biggest predictor of team success. Research also shows that genuine helping improves careers.

 Create a Helping Culture

Wharton Professor, Adam Grant‘s research proves helping more leads to better performance and career success.

In his new book, Give and Take, Grant categorizes people as “takers,” “givers,” and “matchers.”

Takers are out for themselves. Matchers deal in reciprocity. Givers are people who give without expectations of something in return. Giving cultures drive performance. His research also shows that true “Givers” who survive the burnout risk, are extraordinarily succesful.

I reached out to Adam for advice on how best to apply his research. (He was happy to help.)

Adam, how do we change the culture?

He offers 3 ways

  1.  Better selection.
    “Jim Collins famously argued that we need to get the right people on the bus, but he made an even more important point that’s often overlooked: we need to keep the wrong people off the bus. Research led by Roy Baumeister, Paul Rozin, and Will Felps shows that bad is stronger than good, in the sense that the negative effect of a bad apple on the barrel tends to outweigh the positive effect of a good apple. With this in mind, it may be especially valuable to screen out takers in the hiring process.”
  2.  Encourage help-seeking.

    “Studies suggest that 75-90% of all help exchanged in organizations starts with a request, yet many people hold back on seeking help because they’re worried about appearing incompetent or burdening others. To overcome these barriers, we need to make it clear that help-seeking is acceptable and encouraged.
  3. Change Evaluation and Performance Management Processes
    Instead of evaluating and promoting based on individual results alone, we should also assess employees’ contributions to the success of those around them. That way, we might see more givers rise to the top, which will set the stage for them to serve as role models to employees at various levels.

Selection. Encouragement. Evaluation. What would you add?

For more details, see Givers take allIn the company of givers and takers, and Seeking help in the shadow of a doubt.”

Want to know where you fall? Grant offers free online self and 360 assessments with immediate online results.