Although the answer is evidently ‘yes’ when it comes to close personal relationships, what about in the workplace? Is the answer equally evident?
In this video, organizational psychologist Adam Grant provides us with in-depth insight on the major – yet widely underestimated – impact of generosity on effectiveness and productivity in the workplace.
Of course, an organization will thrive on a global scale when its employees’ intentions go beyond fulfilling their individual needs. Indeed, Adam Grant is crystal-clear: many studies reveal that in companies where mutual assistance, sharing knowledge and guiding others are frequently practised, profits and customer satisfaction are on the rise whereas turnover and operating costs decrease.
Unfortunately, withholding knowledge and focusing actions on personal goals are common practice, revealing an intention directed towards the ego that promotes neither productivity nor efficiency and leads to loss of motivation and the growth of mistrust. The quest for power along with the protection of a territory (although both are fruits of our imagination) stem from fear at the expense of trust and collective intelligence.
Efficiency is driven through continuous collaboration. And collaboration requires a safe space, devoid of negative attitudes, for real communication to thrive. “If I say something wrong everyone will think I’m incompetent”, “if I say yes I will surely end up being the only one doing the job…”, are just a few examples of fears that are projected onto others and turn into negative thoughts that interfere with the climate of openness and trust.
Efficiency is driven through proper assertiveness. “Right” assertiveness by an individual who does not judge others and therefore does not fear, in turn, their judgement, allows for thoughts to be put into words without a defensive or aggressive attitude in the background. The space, instead of being occupied by opinions, is left clear for questioning and intelligence. With judgment however, there is no space left for anything else: the decision is already taken.
Our brain rapidly draws conclusions that are determined by our irrational beliefs. But in the workplace this instinctive phenomenon promotes mistrust towards senior management and others in general. Trust far more easily creates a climate that allows employees to be truly productive. A culture of trust encourages employees to share their knowledge, the information they have, their perspectives and opinions. Such a climate promotes a more global vision as well as the decision-making process that, far from the restricting effects of isolation and mistrust, can only be more efficient.
The more I trust, the less I fear. The more I fear, the less I trust. Fear spreads quickly, trust is built upon facts and actions throughout time.
Generosity is the expression of an intention directed towards others. Beyond the trust that stems from such an attitude, the simple action of helping others succeed makes our work more meaningful. By reaching out, we let go of the influence of our beliefs and fears, set our preoccupations aside and participate in something bigger than ourselves that is more rewarding and, in the end, more motivating.
And what if, in this complex and ever-changing world, generosity were the most rational attitude possible?