How I Hire: Keep Takers Away from Customers


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Earlier this summer, Adam Grant sent me a copy of his book, Give and Take. I read it in one night, and realized that Adam might have solved a problem that has haunted my entire career: why do companies have so much trouble building strong, lasting customer relationships?

In Adam’s parlance, a taker is primarily focused on his or her own needs. A giver focuses on the needs of others.

Give and Take made me see the root of the problem: companies hire takers to lead “customer-focused” initiatives! Hiring a taker to better serve customers is like hiring a fox to better serve chickens; they will disappear faster than you can say, “I wish we had more.”

So if you want to get closer to your customers, stop hiring takers to run customer service, sales, marketing and product development.

Even better, shift givers into the leadership positions in these functional areas.

I realize that many people are likely to attack this suggestion, namely all those professionals who have spent the last five, ten or 20 years acting like a taker. But every major company is nearing a tipping point. Smart wireless technologies are making possible far more customer-friendly business models, but takers will be nearly blind to these possibilities; they just can’t “grok” win/win strategies.

I’ve been working with Adam’s company, Optimize Hire, to introduce an online assessment program that will allow companies to identify the givers from among their employees. We’re a long way from claiming success – the beta starts later this month – but our hope is that we can make it much easier for firms to identify true givers.

This is important because every “customer-driven” decision is influenced by the mindset of the professionals who make these decisions. Put takers in charge, and your firm will be primarily interested in pulling dollars out of your customers’ pockets. Put givers in charge, and your firm will be genuinely interested in better serving its customers; in the long run, this approach will be much more profitable.

One huge benefit of this approach is that it is not capital-intensive. You don’t have to invest millions in new technology. You don’t have to build new factories, or hire celebrities to hawk your products. You just have to start empowering givers instead of takers.

By the way, I am not advocating that you fire takers. As you increasingly promote and empower givers, most takers will get the message: our strategy is to profit by helping other people, namely our customers.

Here’s another way to think about the dubious strategy of putting pirates, I mean takers, in charge of customers…

Bruce Kasanoff is co-author with Michael Hinshaw of Smart Customers, Stupid Companies. Download his free Simplify Your Future guide at

To see more of Bruce’s articles on LinkedIn, click the “follow” button below. He is @NowPossible on Twitter.

Photo: holbox/Shutterstock

Republished with author’s permission from original post.

Bruce Kasanoff
Managing Director of Now Possible, was cited by The Chartered Institute of Marketing among their inaugural listing of the 5 most influential thinkers in marketing and business today. He is an innovative communicator who has a track record of working with highly entrepreneurial organizations.


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