Creating a Growth Mindset in the Workplace
We spend half of our day at work, and for some of us it’s closer to half our lives. Both your mindset and the mindset of those around you will have a significant impact on your life, especially the mindset of your boss.
Fixed-mindset leaders, like fixed-mindset people in general, live in a world where some people are superior and some are inferior. They must repeatedly affirm that they are superior, and the company is simply a platform for this.
These leaders tend to have a strong focus on personal reputation, generally at the expense of the company. Fixed-mindset leaders tend to respond to failure with anger instead of viewing it as an opportunity to learn or get better.
A fixed-mindset doesn’t easily allow you to change course. You believe that someone either has ‘it’ or they don’t: it’s a very binary frame of mind. You don’t believe in growth, you believe in right and wrong and any suggestion of change or adaptation is considered a criticism. You don’t know how to adopt grey thinking. Challenges or obstacles tend to make you angry and defensive.
Blame is a big part of the fixed-mindset; when something goes wrong you don’t want to take responsibility because that would be akin to accepting inferiority. This can push some bosses to become abusive and controlling. They feel superior by making others feel inferior. Colleagues may feel this way too, but management has power.
This is when you will notice the effect of mindset on your corporate culture. Everything starts to revolve around pleasing upper management.
When bosses become controlling and abusive, they put everyone into a fixed mindset. This means that instead of learning, growing, and moving the company forward, everyone starts worrying about being judged. It starts with the bosses’ worry about being judged, but it winds up being everybody’s fear about being judged. It’s hard for courage and innovation to survive a companywide fixed mindset.
In these circumstances, the fear of punishment leads to groupthink. No one wants to dissent or put their hand up because it’s likely to get slapped.
So what can you do if you’re new to a company and working against a fixed-mindset? This will be a difficult road but there are definitely ways of nudging your company towards a growth mindset.
The main attributes that create a growth-mindset environment:
- Presenting skills as learnable
- Conveying that the organisation values learning and perseverance, not just ready-made genius or talent
- Giving feedback in a way that promotes learning and future success
- Presenting managers as resources for learning
What kind of workplace are you in?
Are you in a fixed-mindset or growth-mindset workplace?
Do you feel people are just judging you or are they helping you develop? Maybe you could try making it a more growth-mindset place, starting with yourself.
Is it possible that you’re the problem?
Are there ways you could be less defensive about your mistakes?
Could you profit more from the feedback you get?
Are there ways you can create more learning experiences for yourself?
How do you act toward others in your workplace?
Are you a fixed-mindset boss, focused on your power more than on your employees’ well-being?
Do you ever reaffirm your status by demeaning others?
Do you ever try to hold back high-performing employees because they threaten you?
Can you foster a better environment?
Consider ways to help your employees develop on the job: Apprenticeships? Workshops? Coaching sessions?
Think about how you can start seeing and treating your employees as your collaborators, as a team. Make a list of strategies and try them out.
Do this even if you already think of yourself as a growth-mindset boss.
Well-placed support and growth-promoting feedback never hurt.
Do you have procedures to overcome groupthink?
Is your workplace set up to promote groupthink?
If so, the whole decision-making process is in trouble.
Create ways to foster alternative views and constructive criticism. A
ssign people to play the devil’s advocate, taking opposing viewpoints so you can see the holes in your position.
Have an anonymous suggestion box that employees must contribute to as part of the decision-making process. Remember, people can be independent thinkers and team players at the same time. Help them fill both roles.
Shifting your Mindset will change the way in which you think and interact with the world. Since culture eats strategy, it’s important to embrace how a growth mindset in the workplace will transform performance and wellbeing.