Developers: Are You A Giver Or Taker?: Page 2

Among software development teams, the personal dynamics of the various coders is critical to efficiency.


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The third category is where most people fall. Matchers try to maintain an even balance of give and take – often playing the role of referee.

Grant found that the category a person falls into can impact their career advancement. Givers can easily burn out, whereas takers burn bridges. So wouldn’t it be obvious that people like Dustin end up at the bottom of the ladder and the Ambers of the world end of at the top?

Grant’s research showed mixed results. Givers were overrepresented at the bottom, and surprisingly, at the top as well.

How is this possible?

Part of the reason is that matchers go out of their way to restore balance and make sure any injustice done to a giver is evened out by any means, even spreading rumors about the offending taker.

Matchers will often go out of their way to promote and help and support givers, to make sure they actually do get rewarded for their generosity. According to Grant, that's one of the most powerful dynamics behind the rise of givers.

In the short run, givers like Dustin pay a big price in time and effort. But people like Dustin never expect anything in return and they end up building a huge bank of good will that pays off in spades in the long run. This is because the majority of people are matchers and will go the extra mile to see givers like Dustin succeed.

Grant created a website, GiveandTake.com, where you can take a quiz to determine what category you fall into. I took the assessment and apparently I’m not a giver or taker – but a matcher.

I would have guessed I was a giver, because that is how I have been told I act in my personal life. But I’m okay with being a matcher. I do hate to see others being take advantage of and always try to broker the peace in difficult group dynamics.

And in the Software Development Team….

What happened to Dustin and Amber?

In retrospect, I should have been more direct with Amber. But because the team as a whole was operating efficiently and exceeding performance expectations, I let it go.

I’m not sure Amber would have changed her selfish ways, but I could have tried harder to help her see how others saw her.

Today, I could have the entire team take Grant’s assessment, because others can take the quiz to provide 360-degree feedback. It can be eye opening to learn how others interpret your actions.

Over time Dustin became a CTO. People loved and respected him because he selflessly gave his time to help. His LinkedIn profile is overflowing with recommendations from people he helped over the years. His giving disposition combined with his technical prowess eventually landed him at the top of the ladder.

And Amber? Well, she switched careers and moved into sales. She did very well for herself. But you won’t find many recommendations on her LinkedIn profile.

Although there was one particularly glowing recommendation.

From Dustin.

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Tags: programmers, developers, software developer

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