One thing is certain: an employee will remain as relevant as they are willing to grow. Growth is not optional in the modern enterprise, and employees who embrace growth opportunities are the ones who go on to make great careers.
Contrast that with a “fixed mindset” where the individual is not flexible enough to engage opportunities for learning and improvement. A “growth mindset” is more than a psychological fad or a social trend. Instead, it’s the element that ensures that a person thrives on challenge and sees failure as the perfect launchpad for growth and development.
The entire point of a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset is that intelligence and talent are both non-static. In other words, they can grow. Stanford University professor, Carol S. Dweck, pinpoints our innate ability to cultivate our essential qualities through effort, saying “everyone can change and grow through application and experience” despite their aptitude, interests, or background.
What Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset Means for Employees
As a pioneer in studying fixed versus growth mindsets, Professor Dweck went to great lengths to show that the question of whether one is gifted or not is immaterial in predicting success.
The real question is, does the person believe they can and will succeed?
Why do some employees succeed whereas others stall?
The answer is that in the case of the latter, a fixed mindset supplants their potential for success. This employee believes that all the elements and abilities for success are set in stone, limited, and just barely able to improve.
The fixed mindset assumes that the person is born with specific qualities – good and bad – that doesn’t really change throughout life. However, this person never pointedly says that education and training are pointless, but they take undue cognizance of their challenges. Such a scenario makes it difficult to re-imagine their future and take bold steps to fulfill them.
On the flip side, the employee with the growth mindset considers their mental and physical capacities to be a blob of clay capable of becoming and representing some admirable creation. This employee has a mindset in constant flux through deliberate improvement and exercise of what’s available.
With some time, effort, and deliberate practice, a growth mindset helps an employee to grow the skills and abilities that make it possible to achieve the impossible. Therefore, “impossibility” is relative.
Benefits of Developing a Growth Mindset
Those employees with a willingness to achieve more inevitably encounter more challenges. Even when they miss some of their goals, they easily rebound by using feedback and lessons from mistakes. They never stew in their shortcomings; to them, those are only momentary.
A growth mindset predisposes an employee to learn new things, solidifying their willingness and resolve to take on new challenges, be persistent, and maintain enough focus to achieve organizational goals. Therefore, employees become more creative because they are more likely to consistently pursue solutions.
Whereas the fixed mindset is self-preserving, the growth mindset focuses on improvement. A not-too-obvious outcome of developing a growth mindset is the tendency to celebrate instead of seeing the intelligence of others as a threat. Employees with a growth mindset will see the success of others as an object of admiration and a tool for inspiration.
Let’s now explore different ways to develop a growth mindset.
5 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset
Here are a few ways an employee can develop a growth mindset:
#1 – Determine whether you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset
It’s essential for employees to be honest about whether they have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. That’s the best way to determine how they’ll proceed.
#2 – Find a strong reason to develop a growth mindset.
It’s necessary to know something about the growth mindset that drives an employee to change. What benefit would building such a mindset have for their job, career, and life?
Bearing such a purpose in hand, they’ll easily navigate tough times they encounter in developing this worldview.
#3 – Surround yourself with those who have a growth mindset
When an employee maintains frequent interaction with others having a growth mindset, more of it rubs off on them. It’s the law of attraction at work, and those who’ve had considerable success in nurturing a growth mindset will certainly be able to share valuable insights.
#4 – Get comfortable with failing.
It’s uncomfortable for employees to allow themselves to fail in the face of the unending pressure to excel at work. However, employees who give themselves a chance to try again after each bout of failure are only marching one step closer to success.
Employees need to remember that famous people usually fail multiple times before they strike the right chords and cement their place in history.
#5 – De-emphasize results
While results are significant, it’s also essential to reward efforts towards developing a growth mindset. Encourage employees to applaud their own efforts while having a company-wide policy to celebrate the process even when the final outcome could be better.
Choosing to develop a growth mindset might be the singular move that transforms an employee from an average performer to an excellent asset. Your organization can provide avenues for reflecting on areas where the employee’s mindset may lean more towards fixed than growth. This way, there’ll be continuous improvement, and the company will be better off for it.