Composition of a Team: Givers, Matchers, Takers

Casey Fenton

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September 2, 2023

In the intricate realm of teamwork, the composition of individuals plays a pivotal role in determining success. An effective group composition embraces the diversity of talents, perspectives, and personalities, creating an environment that fosters creativity and innovation. Within these groups, we encounter three distinct reciprocity styles: givers takers and matchers. 

This article delves into the characteristics and contributions of each style and explores how they interact within groups. Additionally, we will discuss the importance of diversity in team composition and how equity compensation can revitalize and enhance this crucial aspect.

The Power of Effective Team Composition

Effective team composition is a delicate balance that merges complementary strengths and compensates for individual weaknesses. It involves creating a balance where a diverse array of talents converges, facilitating the group's ability to thrive. Research shows that diverse groups outperform homogenous ones in terms of troubleshooting, creativity, and customer satisfaction. Diversity in group composition cultivates innovative thinking and prevents groupthink, leading to more comprehensive and successful outcomes.

Team Composition Givers Matchers Takers

Adam Grant, a prominent organizational psychologist, identified three fundamental reciprocity styles: givers takers and matchers. 

Givers are selfless individuals who prioritize the interests of others ahead of their own. They are motivated by helping and contributing to the success of the group

The next set, according to Adam Grant, are matchers. Matchers aim to strike an ideal balance of give and take, operating on the principle of reciprocity. They seek fairness and strive to trade evenly with others. 

Meanwhile, as takers, people tend to be self-focused, placing their own interests ahead of the group's. They aspire to achieve success, sometimes at the expense of others.

The Characteristics and Contributions of Givers, Matchers, and Takers

1. Successful Givers

Givers possess a distinctive signature characterized by their selfless nature, willingness to help, and eagerness to share knowledge. Givers succeed by actively supporting their teammates and fostering a giving culture within groups and organizations. Research shows that givers who set boundaries and protect their own responsibilities, thrive and make valuable contributions. They create an environment that encourages collaboration, enhances group dynamics, and improves overall performance. The most successful givers understand the importance of seeking reciprocity and achieving an equal balance between giving and receiving.

2. Successful Matchers

Matchers operate on the principle of fairness, aiming to maintain an equilibrium of exchanges. They recognize the efforts of both givers and takers and strive to create an environment where fairness prevails. Matchers play a crucial role in facilitating cohesive group dynamics, as they promote a sense of equality and ensure that contributions are recognized and reciprocated.

3. Successful Takers

As takers strive to achieve personal success and win within the group, their competitive nature can be harnessed for the benefit of the entire group. They seek opportunities to excel, not just for their own favor and advancement, but also to contribute to the collective success of the group. Takers win by aligning with the group's objectives, resulting in increased effort, innovation, and determination. The group benefits from their competitive spirit, which leads to improved performance and group cohesion.

However, while often achieving short-term success, they tend to have a negative impact on group dynamics. Their nature to self-promote and focus on personal gain can lead to decreased trust, reduced collaboration, and demotivated group members.

However, evidence shows that the worst performers in groups are not takers but rather givers. This is because pure givers, who neglect their own interests and well-being, can suffer from burnout and neglect their own responsibilities.

Situational Examples: How Givers, Matchers, and Takers Work Together

Group composition is not just about the individual and primary reciprocity style of givers, matchers, and takers, but also about how they interact and collaborate within different situations. Let's explore some situational examples that illustrate how these styles that Adam Grant found out can work together effectively.

Problem Solving

In a complex problem solving scenario, givers succeed by bringing their willingness to help and share knowledge with others, ensuring that the group benefits from their valuable insights and support. Matchers contribute by facilitating fairness and an equal balance of exchanges, while a taker, within reasonable boundaries, provides a competitive edge that drives innovation and pushes the group toward success. This collaborative approach, where the first to third style leverages its unique strengths, leads to comprehensive decision-making and breakthrough solutions, where givers succeed as much as the takers and matchers since they selflessly contribute and the group achieves its goals.

New Employee Onboarding

During the onboarding process, givers play a crucial role in welcoming and mentoring new employees. They freely share their knowledge and provide guidance, helping newcomers integrate into the group quickly. Matchers support this process by reciprocating the help and creating an environment where everyone contributes and benefits. A taker, when adopting a more other focused mindset, can provide valuable insights and connections, assisting new employees in navigating the organizational landscape. This combination of styles ensures a smooth transition for new workers and fosters a sense of belonging within the group.

Knowledge Sharing Instead of Own Interests

In a knowledge-driven work environment, givers excel at sharing information, best practices, and resources. They willingly offer their expertise and support to help others succeed. Matchers ensure a balance of exchanges by reciprocating the knowledge shared and contributing their insights and expertise. A taker, when embracing an other focused approach, actively seeks opportunities to learn from and collaborate with others, recognizing that the success of the group is increasingly dependent on collective knowledge and skills. This collaborative knowledge-sharing dynamic leads to continuous learning, improved performance, and innovation.

Leadership Development

When it comes to leadership development, givers are known for their mentorship and coaching abilities. They invest time and effort in developing the skills and potential of others, fostering a culture of growth. Matchers support this process by providing recognition and opportunities for growth, ensuring that leadership development is a fair and reciprocal process. 

Meanwhile, a taker, when adopting a more group-oriented mindset, can bring his or her ambition and drive to leadership roles, pushing the group towards higher performance and achievement. This combination of fundamental styles in leadership development nurtures well-rounded leaders who prioritize the achievements of their group and organization.

It's important to note that while these situational examples showcase the collaborative potential of givers, matchers, and takers, the success of their interactions relies on open communication, mutual respect, and a clear understanding of boundaries. When individuals embrace an other-centric approach and leverage their unique strengths, they create a group dynamic that maximizes performance and fosters a positive work culture.

Equity Compensation: Revitalizing Group Composition

Equity compensation, such as stock options or restricted stock units (RSUs), serves as a powerful tool for incentivizing and aligning the interests of givers, matchers, and takers within group compositions. It creates a mutually beneficial arrangement where individuals are motivated to contribute their best efforts toward the group's victory. But how does every one reciprocity style by Adam Grant benefit from this pay structure?

For a giver, equity compensation provides a tangible recognition of their contributions. As individuals who prioritize the interests of others, successful givers may sometimes neglect their own work or well-being. Equity compensation serves as a powerful incentive that rewards their selflessness, ensuring that their efforts are acknowledged and valued. By receiving a stake in the organization's achievements, givers are motivated to continue their acts of generosity, knowing that their contributions are reciprocated in a meaningful way, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and driving organizational citizenship.

For matchers, equity compensation offers a sense of fairness and balance. Matchers operate on the principle of seeking reciprocity and trading evenly with others. Equity compensation serves as a tangible representation of this principle, providing an opportunity for matchers to receive their fair share based on their efforts and achievements. This incentivizes matchers to continue their balanced approach, ensuring that the group benefits from their consistent contributions, ultimately enhancing overall group performance.

For takers, equity compensation can shift their focus from pure self-interest to a more group-oriented mindset. While takers tend to prioritize their own gains, envy successful takers, and simply strive to win at all costs, equity compensation provides a strong incentive for them to align their interests with the group's accomplishments. By receiving a stake in the organization's equity, a taker has a tangible motivation to contribute positively to the group's goals, thereby achieving personal success along with the success of the group. This revitalizes group composition by transforming a taker into a contributor who actively seeks opportunities to collaborate and add value, resulting in an increasingly productive and cohesive group.

Let's explore a few scenarios to illustrate the impact of equity compensation on group dynamics:

Givers as Selfless

In a group composition where givers dominate, equity compensation serves as a means to acknowledge their selfless contributions. The giver feels validated and motivated to continue their acts of generosity, knowing that their efforts are recognized and rewarded. This, in turn, creates a giving culture within the group and even across entire organizations.

Matchers for Fairness

In a group with a vast majority of matchers, equity compensation fosters a sense of fairness and reciprocity. Each matcher receives their fair share of equity based on their contributions instead of tilt reciprocity, creating a balanced and harmonious environment where individuals feel valued and motivated to continue their efforts. This ideal balance of exchanges contributes to the group's victory and helps givers and matchers thrive.

Takers Tend to Shift Their Mindset

In a group with takers, equity compensation acts as a catalyst for a mindset shift that seeks to eliminate tilt reciprocity The tangible rewards associated with equity incentivize a taker to redirect their focus from individual gains to collective success. They become more inclined to collaborate, share resources, and work towards the group's goals, knowing that their achievement is intertwined with the organization's success. This shift from self-interest to group-oriented thinking ultimately benefits both the taker and the overall group performance.

By incorporating equity compensation into group compositions, organizations can effectively incentivize givers takers and matchers fostering a collaborative and motivated environment that drives the group towards shared success and revitalizes the group composition.

Equity Plans That Foster Collaborative Company Culture

Group composition is a delicate balance that requires careful consideration of the reciprocity styles within the group. By fostering a giving culture, setting boundaries, and recognizing the contributions of all group members, organizations can harness the power of givers takers and matchers. When these styles coexist in a supportive and diverse environment, groups can achieve extraordinary results. By embracing the unique strengths and perspectives of each style, organizations can unlock the full potential of their groups and pave the way for lasting success. 

Meanwhile, equity compensation serves as a catalyst for revitalizing team composition by aligning individual and organizational interests, promoting fairness, and nurturing a sense of ownership. Talk to one of our expert representatives to know how Upstock’s equity plans help to revitalize team composition toward collective success.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Casey Fenton

Founder, Upstock & Couchsurfing, AI and Equity Innovator

Casey Fenton, the founder of Upstock & Couchsurfing and an AI and equity innovator, has revolutionized how we perceive and implement equity in the workplace. His foresight in creating platforms that not only connect people but also align their interests towards communal and corporate prosperity has established him as a pivotal figure in technology and community building. Casey speaks worldwide on topics including ownership mindset, worker equity, With Upstock and Couchsurfing, he has demonstrated an unparalleled expertise in harnessing technology for the betterment of community interaction and organizational benefits.

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