Research shows that even if the rewards aren’t immediately apparent, contributing to the success of others pays off in the long run.
Is this a case of the wheel turning, slowly? A person who enjoys helping others, a ‘giver’, may start out inefficient and not reaping much reward from their altruistic behavior. They may show less than expected sales revenues or allocate time to fellow study colleagues at the expense of their own exam success. However over time says the research, generous people contributing to the success of others see real pay-offs.
According to Grant, Atlantic contributor and author of a book on this subject Give and Take, this is likely because of two important factors, which are relationships and motivation. Givers spend more effort on building relationships and broadening their connections. Assisting others gives meaning and purpose to what we do, energising us to do more – that’s the motivation perspective. But there is also a third factor at play. And this factor will not be a stranger to those of you who read the IPM Blog regularly. It is learning. When you volunteer to assist, especially out of your current role or comfort zone, you learn.
Have you heard of people who do amazing things and rise to the top without all the credentials you’d expect, like multiple degrees, or MBA’s, or vast amounts of in-industry experience? People like Kat Cole whose waitressing come cook come manager job during her studies meant she failed and dropped out altogether? At the age of 32 Cole was named President of Cinnabon Inc., and now at 35, the company has reached $1billion in global sales.
“When the cook quit, I learned how to run the kitchen, and when the manager quit, I learned how to run a shift,” Cole says.
Rather than reaping immediate benefit, over time she benefited from the accumulation of learning in all those jobs. Cole had worked almost every job in the building and she was offered opportunities over other candidates with college degrees and more experience as a result. She worked hard and learned hard. She gave, she put her hand up, and she has reached amazing heights.
Even when there aren’t new roles to learn, volunteering to assist still offers learning space. When you share knowledge, you gain new understandings and insights about what you do, and you become a better problem solver on the whole. If there is one skill we all need at work, not matter the profession, industry or level, its problem solving.
What opportunities do you have for learning in your context? Maybe its time to put your hand up so that everyone wins.