Kristin Clarke is books editor for Associations Now and a business journalist and sustainability director for ASAE.
Wharton School of Business Professor Adam Grant has two tools that staff teams can use to promote a workplace that's collaborative and supportive: the new form of giving.
As a leader, you want to create a workplace where giving—not the monetary kind but the collaborative and supportive kind—is embedded in your culture. This is particularly important in a small-staff organization where employees can often be pulled in numerous directions and feel overwhelmed with everything on their plates.
Thankfully, Wharton School of Business Professor Adam Grant has two favorite tools—from his bestseller Give and Take—that professionals can use to promote a norm of giving and "help-seeking" in the workplace: Reciprocity Rings and Five-Minute Favors.
His recipe for Reciprocity Rings follows:
Gather a group of eight to 10 people. Participants can include anyone on staff or even people from other organizations. Invite everyone to ask for something they want or need but cannot get on their own. Challenge the rest of the group to "think like givers" and figure out whether anyone knows something or someone who could help fulfill this request.
"You start to see some pretty amazing requests come in and get fulfilled," says Grant. "I've been running a version of this exercise for seven years, and roughly 80 percent of requests get some kind of help."
Reciprocity Rings work for three reasons, he says:
He ran across another technique—the Five-Minute Favor—while researching successful business leaders, in this case serial entrepreneur Adam Rifkin.
"Adam's point is that, to be a giver, you don't have to be Mother Teresa or Gandhi," Grant says. "But we can all shift in a giving direction by giving more Five-Minute Favors, which are simple ways of adding high value to other people's lives at a low personal cost."
Rifkin's preferences are making introductions and recognizing others. Every day for the past 12 years, he has made three email introductions between strangers from his network who could benefit from connecting. The result has been the founding of dozens of companies and even some marriages.
Rifkin's other favorite favor is to go out of his way to recognize and thank people who are givers so they "don't end up staying in the shadows, and so they get appreciated for their contribution," Grant says. "He might write LinkedIn recommendations for you or a thank-you note to your boss if he received great service from you. Again, it's a very small investment of effort on his part that has large value to others."