Embracing Coaching as a New Approach to Growth Mindset

The ‘growth mindset’ concept has been around for a while, and many companies have proven how valuable it can be. An organization full of ‘fixed mindset’ employees – especially leaders – are setting themselves up to fail in a quickly evolving business environment.

Unfortunately, those ‘fixed mindset’ companies face a Catch-22. Adopting a growth mindset requires breaking free of the fixed mindset, but how does one do this if they are already stuck in this attitude? It turns out that coaching is one of the most effective ways that businesses can make this leap.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

The idea of the growth mindset was born during a research project on high school students by psychologist Carol Dweck. In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she explains how students with a particular positive attitude saw setbacks as learning opportunities. Dweck subsequently applied her theory to organizations and found that some companies also take this approach, which she termed a “growth mindset”.

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset 

In comparison, other organizations have a ‘fixed mindset’. These companies avoid risk, have difficulty adapting, hire instead of promote, and generally don’t provide learning opportunities. They tend to emphasize results instead of examining processes behind the results. This does not mean that all fixed mindset companies show poor performance. However, as the world continues to see significant changes in how organizations are managed for success, a growth mindset is a valuable asset.

The Increasing Importance of a Growth Mindset in the Workplace

Adopting a growth mindset helps employees at all levels to better accept rapid shifts. The pandemic, attitudes of the incoming workforce, increased diversity, an emphasis on soft skills, and remote work are among the factors that will affect the workplace for decades to come. In light of these changes, and with the following growth mindset activities and perspectives, organizations will be better able to maintain or increase productivity:

Internal Mobility

Promoting current employees instead of recruiting new ones saves money and improves retention. Crucial to this effort are L&D programs.

Opportunities for Reskilling and Upskilling

A main tenet of the growth mindset concept is that developing skills is a matter of taking the time to learn, and not an employee’s personal limitations. Constant chances for building skills are a direct result of the growth mindset approach.

Learning from Failure

Risk taking can lead to failure. But if a venture goes wrong, a growth mindset organization will reflect on what got in the way and how to make sure it doesn’t happen next time.

Rewarding the Process

It is critical to praise the processes that led to success, and not just the outcomes. These processes could include asking for help, taking a risk, or researching different approaches.

Observing Your Own Mindset

In a growth mindset organization, anyone can lead by example while refining their own mindset. If you believe you can’t do it, just add the word ‘yet’, to paraphrase Eduardo Briceño, an associate of Dweck’s.

Coaching for the Growth Mindset 

So, how do you get there? Developing a growth mindset requires a fundamental change throughout the company. This type of elemental transformation is the domain of a growth mindset coach. Coaching employees to adapt a growth mindset not only requires buy-in from leadership, it demands buy-in from the entire organization.

Through L&D programs, managers can encourage the adoption of a growth mindset in the organization and nurture the attitude in themselves. The key is the close personal attention of a coach.

A growth mindset coach will guide employees in accepting proper activities and perspectives. A coach’s objective advice is essential for seeing the big picture because, as is symptomatic of a fixed mindset organization, some managers will be uncomfortable with the change involved.

For example, let’s say that a company has been hiring middle managers through a recruiter. A coach will encourage them to look at alternatives such as creating L&D programs that enable existing staff members to enter these positions instead. Some staff might be loyal to the recruiter (perhaps that’s how they got hired). But, on the other hand, the organization will benefit from all the savings and experience that result from internal hiring.

Organizations that make it through this transformation see noticeable benefits. Some big names that have done this include:

  • Microsoft implemented a growth mindset framework in 2014, a move which is credited, to some extent, with enabling the company to achieve a trillion dollar valuation.
  • Hewlett-Packard took only one year to switch to a growth mindset approach, resulting in a 22% boost for employee engagement.

GrowthSpace and the Growth Mindset

It’s no coincidence that we’re called GrowthSpace. We created the company out of a belief that every person should get the support they need to grow both as employees and as individuals.

As devotees of the growth mindset, we believe that the only limit to learning is opportunity. That’s why GrowthSpace is dedicated to a technology that enables employees at all levels to grow through access to the skills they need. Our platform matches industry-leading coaches with employees who have the will to advance, for the benefit of the entire organization.

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