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Givers and Takers: Which One Are You?

Givers and Takers: Which One Are You?

In my career, I have observed two distinctly different employees: Givers and Takers. Givers rarely cause employee relations issues. Takers, however, are energy vampires on the prowl to suck the life out of anyone who steps inside your doors. I have provided a comparison of the two.

The Giver

The Giver is an employee whose work and motivation is directed towards the mission of the organization. They play nice and are excellent team players.  Their incentive is to win; and do it the right way. These conscientious people have selected their career out of a passion in life or will make the best of a not-so-great work situation.

How to Spot a Giver

  1. Takes initiative to work on projects that need to be done — without being asked.
  2. Asks for input and advice from peers and leaders when problems arise.
  3. If the company’s fire alarm sounds, he goes into action and begins looking for missing co-workers before leaving the building. He makes sure no one is left behind.
  4. Uncomfortable with individual praise directed towards him. He believes the entire team deserves the credit.
  5. Interested in results, not scoring political points with the supervisor. Brown-nosers, in his opinion, hurt the team and hinder results.
  6. Sincerely cares for others before himself.

My father said there were two different kinds of people in the world: givers and takers.  The takers may eat better but the givers sleep better. -Marlo Thomas

The Taker

The Taker is an employee who works solely for what they can receive from the organization.  As new employees, their main questions are: When will their first paycheck arrive? When can they take paid time off? How much bereavement time is available in case someone dies? Takers, as opposed to Givers, have not thought about life fulfillment or aligning their passion and career. They prefer to align their compensation with their purchasing habits.

How to Spot a Taker

  1. Not proactive and must be told what to do, with clear instructions — sometimes in writing.
  2. When problems arise, he rarely seeks advice from the team or a veteran employee. He makes his best guess, even if a mistake could be very costly to the company.
  3. If the company’s fire alarm sounds, he likely is the first person running to an exit, quickly forgetting his coworkers may need assistance.
  4. Loves, loves, loves individual praise, even if he had nothing to do with the reason for the accolades. He simply enjoys being the center of attention. He thinks he does all the heavy lifting for the team and without him, the team couldn’t survive.
  5. More interested in scoring political points with senior management. He carefully observes their work patterns and comes in early and leaves in the evening immediately after his supervisor walks out the door.  Presence and face time, not results, is his political currency.
  6. Lives for himself and believes the world owes him success.

Which characteristic best describes you?

Graphic Credit:


Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.


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