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Is Your Company Culture a Giving or Taking Culture?

A friend of mine, Angie, suggested Adam Grant's book "Give and Take" to me, and as I've been reading it I am finding that it has a lot of applicable lessons, and some really great stories and examples of what it looks like to interact as a Giver, a Taker or a Matcher.

It also got me thinking. About whether operating as a Giver, Taker or Matcher is only about the individual, or can it also describe a culture or an organization? As I was considering that, I had two encounters that shed some light for me.

The first was with LegalZoom. I am working with them to complete an application and had recently submitted a payment for some services associated with an ongoing project. The card I submitted would not go through for payment and I was frustrated and confused as I knew there was no reason why it shouldn't. I figured I was going to have to call their support line and spend a bunch of back and forth time trying to figure out what was going on. But within 15 minutes of the decline, LegalZoom actually called me. They wanted to make sure I knew what steps to take next. Apparently, the credit card company, in their desire to protect me and my credit, had flagged the purchase as potentially fraudulent. LegalZoom wanted to make sure I knew why it was being flagged, what I needed to contact the bank about, and how to confirm that they lifted the flag so the process could proceed. This is clearly an example of a giving culture focused on helping me as their customer.

Shortly after that, as part of my branding plan, I decided it was time to change the name of my business Facebook Page from "Trish Cody" to CoreIntegrity Leader" since the DBA is finally completed. Facebook denied the name change request stating that they felt that the change in name could be confusing for people who like my page, and could even be misleading due to my page's current content. I explained to them that in fact, the page already references the CoreIntegrity Leader programs, the weekly newsletter, and that most people I interact with on that page are already aware of CoreIntegrity. So, the name change would serve to bring the name of the page into closer alignment with the content; it would clear up any potential confusion.

Facebook responded with a link to their name change policies and an invitation for me to read them so I could better understand why they were declining my request. You can review them yourself here if you like.

I had read the policy already, but reread it just in case I might be missing something. After reviewing the policy and seeing that it simply says that you cannot pretend to be someone else or their brand, you can't use generic terms like "pizza" as your name, you can't use strange characters, and you can't mislead people about your content, I figured I was within the guidelines. After all, my content is about leadership and self-awareness and I do own the business name. I submitted an appeal explaining this.

Twice they responded, twice I appealed. And here is the kicker: their responses didn't change in even a single word or phrase. So after asking them to please look at my actual content and carefully reconsider my request, they simply repeated a copy/paste response to each of my messages. This tells me they likely did not look at my content, possibly didn't even read my actual appeal. No company that responds again and again with nothing more than a copy/paste of their last message is interested in understanding or in an actual dialogue. This is clearly a Taker culture.

So, while reading the book and reflecting on my own style of interacting with others, these experiences highlighted for me that, as a leader, it is important to evaluate the Taker, Giver or Matcher default method of interacting at the company and culture level as well. If you are a leader of others or a company, I would encourage you to read the book yourself and take time to get informed about the policies your employees are asked to follow, and whether they are encouraged to take care of the customer or adhere to the policy. It can make a difference in customer satisfaction, of course, but also in culture, retention and profits.

With over 20 years of experience as a strategic consultant for global Leadership and Development initiatives with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies, Trish Cody has coached and consulted with senior level teams in planning, designing, launching, and measuring the return for major initiatives. As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with entrepreneurs, senior leaders and their teams to uncover their real desires for their organization, and then to align those desires with their values to co-create a strategy for execution and accountability. The leaders Trish partners with are truly working their own best plan for success in achieving their desired “new state” and weathering the changes that success brings. To learn more about how Trish can help you and your team with one-on-one coaching, team coaching or speaking at your event, please contact

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