Giving and Getting – Team Dynamics

A pervasive dynamic in the workplace and with teams is the concept of “getting or giving”.

Getting: Is the outcome of what can I get from the organization. What’s in it for me.

Giving: What talents and abilities do I bring to the organization? What do I give to receive?

Teams and groups of employees often fail because:
1. There is really not a team. It is a utilitarian view: What do ‘I’ get if ‘I’ do this, or that…
2. Everyone on the team is not held accountable using the same rules or expectations.
3. Oversight, or management is too afraid to confront inconsistencies.

The Getters tend to participate in teams where the above dynamics are present. They continue to get, but fly under the radar or escape reasonable scrutiny for the results. I have seen this dynamic present since MBA business school. It is a part of the human condition.

The Givers are the silent producers, rarely complaining, but producing the results. After a while, the Getters rely on the Givers, and the team eventually suffers. It can be a very frustrating experience for the Givers in the organization, but more importantly, it can render the leadership more vulnerable and in a position where they have enabled the Getters – making it harder to address.

Teams will always have both types of members. The job of the leader or manager is to address the situation more immediately so as to avoid the vulnerabilities it produces in the team. The following steps may prove helpful:

1. Approach all members with the same expectations. Set appropriate limits when it becomes apparent that some members are under-functioning at the expense of others.

2. Be honest, avoid unholy alliances with one team member or members over others. Avoiding mis-steps by a deviant member will not make the problem go away. Addressing it honestly upfront, is the best strategy.

3. If you have policies and expectations, use them. As a leader your job is to get ahead of the problem, not wait until it manifests into something more difficult to solve later on. Team members who are Getters, will not give up their behavior until it is directly addressed. Remember the team has a purpose, and it is not to give an advantage of one member over the organizational objective.

Can you identify the dynamic of Getting over Giving in your organization?

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