Adaptability has always been a key role in workplace success. Now more than ever, our careers require us to be constantly evolving. Having a “growth” mindset versus a “fixed” one might be the to way to successfully change your behaviours, find meaningful work, build better habits, and stay current in the future of work.
What is a growth mindset?
People with a growth mindset believe abilities, like talent and intelligence, can be developed through hard work and dedication. They seek out opportunities to experiment, enjoy learning and view failure as an opportunity to grow.
Those with a fixed mindset believe the opposite. They feel like they are born with a set level of talent and intelligence, and because of this, they’re more likely to seek out opportunities and situations where these views are affirmed (like doing the same job over and over to receive praise). They also may believe that talent alone, is the source of success. This may be harmful in the long run as it prevents their ability to grow, develop and learn new skills.
How does this impact the workplace?
In the workplace, the fixed mindset employee will be more likely to stick to “business as usual”. They’ll try to use techniques and solutions that have worked for them in the past. They may not be willing to rely on their talents alone. On the other hand, the growth mindset employee believes that the best work comes from trying new solutions. They’ll be more likely to search out opportunities to test new and forward-looking solutions, without fear that they won’t be good at it right away, or that it might not be the right choice.
People with fixed mindsets are more likely to set performance goals (like moving a metric or hitting a KPI) instead of learning goals (like bettering your skills). It might seem like not a big deal, but focusing on performance goals defers to short-term thinking and makes you feel like you either pass or fail.
How can an awareness of growth mindsets help your company?
When organizations only measure employees by outcomes, this creates a “fixed mindset” culture, where being intelligent and talented is prized above all other behaviours. When you are too worried that the outcome is all that matters, it seems you may do whatever it takes to deliver a result including hoarding resources, potentially lying to colleagues or clients, and blaming others when things don’t go right. The biggest risk is that potentially valuable learning opportunities that enable growth and innovation will be ignored.
When a company measure employees by the efforts that they make and embody a “growth mindset” culture of development, the willingness to put in our best effort, to learn and to grow is what’s valued the most. When employees feel confident that giving things their best shot and learning from the experience is what really counts, it seems they may be more willing to collaborate with others and to learn from success and failures.. Perhaps most importantly, they will be given the tools to be equipped to deal with setbacks and seek out opportunities for growth and innovation.
Leaders have an especially unique role in fostering this culture of a growth mindset. The growth mindset in the workplace shapes our ability to create innovative, risk-taking cultures and have happier employees. Rather than seeing success as confined in a box, they see greater opportunity. Leaders with a growth mindset see talent and intelligence just as the starting point and are interested in cultivating people’s effort and willingness to learn.
In the journey of continuous improvement, demonstrating a growth mindset can be contagious in promoting a positive organisational culture.