FNS Learning Day: Giver, Taker, Matcher

Tiramisu with a blue elephant and a yellow rubber ducky, and a calendar in the background.

In early Jan 2017, I participated in Facilitators Network Singapore’s annual FNS Learning Day. During the 3-hour session (it had to be conducted off-office hours to cater to the daily commitments of the facilitators)

Senior Associate Janice and Prabu opened the event by playing a TED talk video, titled, “Are You A Giver or Taker?”

Tiramisu with a blue elephant and a yellow rubber ducky, and a calendar in the background.

The speaker, Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, talks about 3 types of characters in an organisation (namely, Giver, Taker and Matcher), how they perform and influence in an organisation, and how to encourage or protect the Giver, whom is found to be most valuable to the organisation. (You can watch the video below).

Like a typical audience, I was going through my mind to see where I fit in the quandrant of Agreeable/Disagreeable Giver/Taker. I had my doubts at first, but the moment I saw House M.D face, I knew my deduction of my character and contribution to the workplace was correct.

Mind you, I was introduced to House by a friend who thought both of us are alike.

During the group sharing, I said that what struck me was how these characteristics were not associated to contribution in the workplace. Conventionally, personality traits (Type A/Type B) or competencies (strong in Mathematics, business sense) were used to judge whether a person is a worthy employee. Giver/Taker was more of a description of the diversity of characters in the workplace.

Adam noted that Givers tend to dominate the top and bottom performers in the workplace. To me, that made sense. The Givers at the bottom tend to help so much that their main job scopes suffered and they were penalised for that.

The Givers at the top were reaping the success of their helpfulness; despite facing off Takers, Givers will eventually make enough gratitude deposits whereby those savings start to provide dividends. I shared how I went through a difficult period last December, when certain people in authority placed hurdles that would effectively spoil my long-planned, once in a year, long holiday.

I was very grateful that many of my colleagues whom I helped through the past 2 years told me how they thought they could help me, even to the extent of offending whoever set those hurdles for me.

It was a touching story of knowing who could actually be counted on in times of difficulty.

May I note that at the end of the video, Adam mentioned pronoia. To be frank, throughout the video, only 1 person came to my mind when it comes to being a Big Giver: one of my ex-boss Ah Soh. She was well-known in the organisation for always being there. The group of us, the male subordinates, would take on the role of fending off Fakers and pure takers, because we did not want our boss to be burned out. So in a sense, we were doing what Adam described as protecting the Giver.

And true enough, Ah Soh was the personification of pronoia, when everyone actually wonders what she was plotting for the better wellbeing of the others. So much for attending FNS Learning Day!

Disclaimer: I am a casual social commentator, who speaks because it is logical and rational, so my points are not necessarily based on established research and studies. As much as possible, I will refer to theories and knowledge I picked up through formal education. If you do agree to my ideas, please feel free to contaminate others in your social circle. If you disagree, though, it would be good to provide sources and credits, so that I can learn from my mistakes.

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