Creating a Growth Mindset company isn't something that happens by chance. It comes from understanding what the differences are between having a fixed or growth mindset and then educating and mentoring your employees to adopt a growth mindset.
This article is for any manager who is responsible for the personal development and growth of their employees. You'll understand what it means to have a growth mindset and you'll have a starting point to create a Growth Mindset programme for your team.
What is a growth mindset?
When we talk about a Growth Mindset, we often refer to the beliefs and attitudes someone has towards whether they (or someone else) can improve their abilities through dedication, effort and hard work. A person with a growth mindset comes from the perspective that anyone can improve their ability through hard work, while a person with a fixed mindset will often think that ability is unchangeable.
Someone with a growth mindset may exhibit the following traits:
- Believe that true potential is unknowable and anything can be achieved with passion, effort and practice, and that no-one's ability is set in stone
- Believe the key to success is long term hard work
- Willing to seek help from others to help them learn and progress
- Can continue advancing by stretching themselves beyond their current abilities
- Look objectively and are open to accurate information with a view to improve—no matter how unflattering and uncomfortable the truth is
- Value what they become, not who they are
Someone with a fixed mindset however may exhibit the following traits:
- Tend to blame their lack of success on things they feel are out of their control
- Believe that someone's ability is carved in stone
- Believe they have to continually prove themselves over and over
- Want to look smart and avoid actions that might make them look dumb
- Believe their self worth is being the best at what they do and are always striving for perfection
- Believe that smart people don't make mistakes
- Value things that are naturally easy to do that other's cannot do
- Are intolerant of mistakes, criticisms or setbacks
- When given a positive label, they fear losing it and have the pressure to keep proving it over and over
- Have an overwhelming sense of rejection and try to protect themselves from being vulnerable
As you can see, the topic of a fixed and growth mindset can be quite deep. But we want to give managers the ability to recognise both their own mindset, and then look to help their team foster a growth mindset.
As a manager your goal is to enable the best out of your team. You want to create a healthy, enjoyable working experience for your employees. You want them to have a sense of purpose and direction which can be something they value as they progress through their own career.
In order to achieve this, as a manager, you need to understand and adopt a growth mindset. This means you want to foster the attributes and thinking that lead to having a growth mindset. It's not easy, but the benefits are worth it.
In addition, you can look to your team and embrace your employees who already exhibit growth mindset attributes. You also want to recognise those who are exhibiting fixed mindset attributes and work with them to help steer their progression to being more growth oriented.
So what does it mean to be a growth mindset manager? You need to foster the following attributes:
- Embrace a growth mindset within yourself and your team
- Have a zest for learning and teaching and be a model for your team to follow
- Be open to giving and receiving feedback
- Look at problems as obstacles to overcome, and not problems that you wish didn't exist
- Reward employees for taking initiative and working hard to see a difficult task through
- Reward employees for growth, learning something, overcoming setbacks and being open to and taking action on criticism
As you can see, to be a growth mindset manager, you need to build the communication and support structures for your employees. You need to create a safe space for them to flourish and make mistakes, but have the guidance to look at adversity with a growth mindset.
As a manager, you want to foster a growth mindset team. This means you must teach your employees about the growth mindset through effective communication and provide the right support through mentoring.
Growth mindset programme
Create a growth mindset programme for your team. Make it a tangible thing that you and your team can work towards. Use it as a way to create the growth culture your team deserves.
When creating such a programme, consider the following:
- Educate your team why it is important and how they can assess where they are on a fixed-vs-growth mindset scale
- Help employees individually reflect on where they once had a low ability in an area, but still managed to perform well
- Work with individual employees who you see are struggling and communicate with them how their abilities can be developed
- Let your team reflect on times where people have overcome scenarios that they thought weren't possible, but managed to learn how to overcome it
Such a programme should help your employees bring out the discussion of what it means to have a growth mindset. Let them explore examples of where they have experienced it. You want them to learn by examples of past behaviour that shine a light on the specific traits you want to reward.
Once everyone has a baseline understanding of a growth mindset, the hard work begins. Set regular checkins with your employees and open the discussion to where they have assumptions in their belief about their performance, the performance of their peers and observe if they have a fixed mindset. Reward examples of a growth mindset and encourage them to view challenges and failures as opportunities for learning, and not a reflection of their own worth.
It's hard work, but the results will be incredible to the performance and happiness of your team. Good luck!