Promoting a growth mindset culture

Cultivating a growth mindset within your team: how to sustain employees in this time of changes due to Coronavirus

HRs should develop a culture of learning and innovation to help their employees embrace the change and foster self-development.

Employees often have to face various challenges in their working environment: from figuring out how to utilize a new software to receiving additional job tasks. The challenges get intensified in times of big organisational changes or due to external factors, such as adapting to a new working paradigm because of the Coronavirus. For this reason, people continually need to master new skills to grow professionally. Some people manage to rapidly adjust to newly requested assignments while others get stressed out and may even fail to meet expectations.

According to researchers, this difference in ability to learn and bounce back from setbacks is due to different factors: the levels of individual resilience, grit – but also the type of mindset that is cultivated in the workplace. Based on Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck’s theory, people have different learning behaviours which affect their motivation and response to success and failure.

Best explained in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, Dweck’s approach suggests that there are two primary ways in which individuals approach intelligence and learning: with a fixed mindset or with a growth mindset. The fixed-mindset perspective is one in which individuals believe that they are born with a certain level of intelligence and talent, and that level will not shift over their lifetime. As a result, they tend to believe that things for which they have skills should come easily to them, with little effort required for success. Failure results in these individuals experiencing significant struggle with setbacks or mistakes. Conversely, those who adopt a growth mindset believe that intelligence, skills and passions can be developed over time. They seek opportunities to be challenged, to stretch beyond their expected capacity, to take risks, to learn and to gain insight from their mistakes”. Forbes contributor Brittany Forsyth praises the growth mindset by saying: “If every mistake you make is progress, you stop worrying about failing. I believe it’s the job of leaders to actively help our people fulfil their potential by fostering the environment in which they can develop”.

In fact, the growth mindset concept is very important for the HR strategic function. As reported in the research held by Stanford professors together with Senn Delaney, businesses that nurture growth mindset can boast “workers that have 47% higher trust in their company, are 34% more likely to feel a sense of ownership and commitment to the future of their company, and show 65% stronger agreement that their company supports risk-taking. Experts of Leadership Insiders say that “these attributes of growth mindset culture are critical to enable change processes, because employees with a growth mindset don’t feel like victims of, but co-pilots during change efforts”. Developing a culture of learning and collaboration may be the key factor to outdistance the competition, and HR executives have to be the primary growth mindset catalysts within their organisations.

So, what can you do to encourage employees to take a positive outlook of their capabilities?

  • Carefully select the leaders to promote the growth mindset

The selection of good leadership is crucial. As an HR executive, you have to actively pick leaders who fully exhibit a growth mentality. Evaluate how your managers perceive and solve challenges, whether they take a “Band-Aid approach” to decision-making or look for long-term solutions, whether they manage to view failures as opportunities for a positive change.

  • Place a strong focus on learning opportunities

True growth-mindset companies see L&D as a vital resource for their talent development and strongly encourage a learning culture, especially in difficult dynamic times such as the ones we go experience today, while the coronavirus outbreak is changing the rules of the game and challenges the entire organisations. If your workers initially struggle with remote working or have some extra time while you are working on this new working framework, push forward the learning opportunities and professional development: support employees’ growth through more eLearning courses and online trainings. Consider introducing mentoring programmes which are also great for giving people the confidence they need to step outside of their comfort zone.

  • Develop a culture of feedback

Regular feedback is a valuable way to support employees in developing their skills and recognising their own potential. It helps to ensure employees get the training and support to future-proof their careers and face professional challenges. HRs play a vital role in fostering a feedback culture and making sure that managers have the right skills to successfully implement it.

  • Admit when failures occur, and capitalize on them

Leaders with a growth mentality perceive failure as part of their path. Your workers must be “allowed” to fail – that is, they must be advised that not only is it OK to fail, but that risk-taking, failing and learning from it are actively encouraged and accepted in your organisation. To the degree that failure is embraced as a key driver of innovation and development.

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