“False acceptance”, overcommitment, and an imbalance of giving/taking behavior is a huge consideration in both the workplace and our everyday lives. It’s been a subject that I’ve been keenly aware of and interested in, stemming from my days working in interactive media in NYC. This article from the Harvard Business Review is a great analysis of workplace giving and taking, and I highly suggest reading it as a beginning step in refining your role as a manager in your busy work environment.
Harvard Business Review – In the Company of Givers and Takers, by Adam Grant, from the April 2013 issue. (PDF)
Summary, from HBR:
Employees make decisions every day about whether to contribute to others—and their willingness to help is crucial to group and organizational effectiveness. But in a competitive, often zero-sum, world of work, generosity can be a dangerous path. How can leaders foster it without cutting into productivity, undermining fairness, and allowing employees to become doormats?
The key, explains Wharton’s Adam Grant, is to help givers reach a more nuanced understanding of what generosity is and is not. They’ll be better positioned for sustainable giving when they can distinguish generosity from three attributes that often travel with it: timidity, availability, and empathy.
Givers can overcome timidity, Grant says, by learning to act as agents—using “relational accounts” to advocate for others while negotiating for themselves. They can set boundaries on when, how, and whom to help. And they can strive to be perspective takers, not just empathizers, gathering knowledge about others that can lead to more-productive allocations of time that will benefit the organization as a whole.
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