Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset

What is it and why do we need one?

Growth Mindset

What is a growth mindset?

To understand how a company benefits from a growth mindset, it helps to look at individuals’ growth mindsets. We differentiate between people with a growth mindset and people with a fixed mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that skills are dependent on talent, while people with a growth mindset are convinced that you can learn almost anything.

People with a growth mindset like to try out new things and practice with dedication as they’re sure that they can get better if they put enough effort in. They know that they don’t know everything, and they want to learn.

How can a growth mindset benefit a company?

A company that believes it knows everything it needs to know will struggle to hold its own in an agile future. With a growth mindset, however, a company acknowledges that it will always have to learn to develop. With this acknowledgement, a company is aware that it doesn’t know everything and that it can learn from its staff. It therefore creates the opportunity to benefit even more from employees, or indeed people and communities outside the company, and sees knowledge as a collective good.

How can a growth mindset be encouraged in a company?

In individuals as well as businesses, the will to strengthen a growth mindset is already a strong sign that it’s possible. You already believe that you can learn something new. While management may include a growth mindset in its general business strategy, managers and HR departments can help employees to release their full potential.

Growth mindset as part of a business strategy

Simple behaviours and processes can help to put into practice and reinforce the growth mindset in a company:

  • Create a ‘listening culture’: all staff members’ ideas and thoughts should be listened to. This way, the company’s growth mindset can ideally be passed onto its employees. A listening culture can be internally reinforced through interdisciplinary projects but also externally through an open innovation platform to name but one example.
  • Reflection: recognise mistakes and see them as opportunities. Processes should be created regarding how completed projects should be reflected on. Questions such as ‘what worked well?’, ‘what difficulties were there?’, ‘how did we solve problems?’ and ‘what would we do differently now?’ should be answered and reported. New projects can be optimised using the mistakes and optimisation ideas from previous projects.

Coaching staff

Agile processes mean that changes can be faster and more frequent, which could be overwhelming for staff members with a fixed mindset. Managers are tasked with taking on a coaching role and helping employees unfurl their full potential:

  • Motivate them to try new things: staff should be motivated to take on new tasks and reinforce their own growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset tend to exclusively inhabit their comfort zones. Ask staff to take on tasks outside their comfort zones and help them to master these tasks.
  • Put a learning culture into practice: making mistakes should be allowed. Otherwise, employees will never leave their comfort zones. Ensure that criticism is always constructive and based on the work, not the person.
  • Appreciate effort: in England, school pupils don’t just receive a grade for their work, but also one for the effort put in. This shows appreciation for the attempt to master something even if the result might not reflect that. Similarly, employees’ effort should be valued so they are motivated to carry on trying.

Listen, reflect, learn, motivate - we’re enthusiastic

Encouraging a growth mindset in companies and in individuals seems to come with an abundance of positives. But it’s important that we don’t overburden staff. Employees that like to work within their comfort zones are not worse employees. But all employees should be given the opportunity to develop and release their full potential.

Published: 3. December 2020

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