People are capable of more than we may realize. That is the assumption underlying the ‘growth mindset’ concept, which while originally conceived in an academic setting, is highly applicable in today’s business world. Companies are implementing this concept to tackle challenges from an alternative angle, and as a result, are enjoying improved productivity and profits.
What is a Growth Mindset?
Psychologist, professor, and researcher Carol Dweck originated the ‘growth mindset’ concept in 2006. Through research on high school students, Dweck discovered that students who saw failure as a learning experience had a positive attitude that led to acceptance of feedback and better subsequent performance. According to Dweck, “a growth mindset is when students understand that their abilities can be developed.” A person who has a growth mindset believes that their potential to acquire skills is mostly limited by effort and not intelligence.
This is as opposed to a ‘fixed mindset’, where the person believes that they are limited by inherent traits or abilities. They focus on outcomes because they feel that they do not have the capability to adapt. In comparison, a person with a growth mindset focuses on processes, persistence, effort, and strategies.
In additional research, Dweck found that companies can also be growth minded or fixed minded, and this characteristic has an impact on performance.
Developing a Workplace Growth Mindset
Although individuals and companies tend to start off with either a fixed or a growth mindset, attitudes can be changed. There are various steps that companies can take to encourage growth mindedness:
Place more emphasis on goal setting
Profitability counts, but many organizations tend to put more focus on short-term achievements. Research suggests that a long-term focus leads to higher profitability. Setting goals to optimize processes takes more time but pays off in the long run.
Promote an inclusive environment
One element of a fixed mindset is that it evaluates solutions through set methods. The input of employees at all levels should therefore be sought to encourage the analysis of problems from various perspectives.
Do not penalize failure
Organizations should differentiate between best efforts, which are to be commended, and carelessness, which is unacceptable. Those who try but fail should be given thorough feedback sessions to discover what went wrong and how the organization can learn from the experience.
Provide opportunities for reskilling and upskilling
The growth mindset originated with the idea that the right attitude is essential for expanding a person’s abilities. However, another factor that enables development is learning. Reskilling is the practice of adding to an employee’s skills so that they may move laterally within an organization. Upskilling means enhancing a worker’s current skill level. Through related L&D programs, employees can put their growth mindset into action and acquire more qualifications.
Enable coaching programs
Creating and supporting a growth mindset is a long-term project that is ideal for the close supervision of a coach. Through advising employees about how to use growth mindset applications in their daily activities, coaching is a practical way to bring about a comprehensive change in outlook and behavior.
Applying a growth mindset also requires the company to change its ways. For example, in hiring, the regular ‘fixed’ approach is to cover skill gaps by recruiting from outside the organization. In contrast, growth mindset companies look first for existing talent. Similarly, during the hiring process, the fixed method is to emphasize applicants’ education and past accomplishments. An organization using a growth mindset will instead prefer to see the candidates’ demonstration of advancement, an inquisitive personality, and interest in constant learning.
Business Benefits of a Growth Mindset
Dweck studied the impact of a growth mindset on organizations compared to those with a fixed mindset. Through surveys, Dweck’s team discovered these employee attitudes:
- 49% greater likelihood to believe that the company is interested in innovation; the culture of learning enables more opportunities for creativity
- 34% greater likelihood to feel a strong sense of commitment; the inclusive environment makes employees feel dedicated to a company that listens to them
- 47% greater likelihood to trust colleagues; if employees can increase their abilities, they tend to see other talented workers as collaborators instead of a threat
- 65% greater likelihood to say that the company is in favor of risk taking; allowing motivated employees to implement their ideas means that the business is interested in taking a chance to follow through on their ideas
Speaking of Growth…
With a platform that is ideal for scalable L&D initiatives such as reskilling and upskilling, GrowthSpace is the method behind the mindset. GrowthSpace also helps L&D practitioners to locate top coaches and mentors for the application of growth mindset concepts. GrowthSpace technology is making it possible for leading organizations to turn L&D initiatives into real world employee skills.