How To Help Employees Develop a Growth Mindset in the Workplace

How To Help Employees Develop a Growth Mindset in the Workplace

According to Anthony Puopolo, CMO at REX MD, a growth mindset is “an individual’s belief that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.”

First coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, growth mindsets are in opposition to the idea of a fixed mindset, which is an individual’s belief that you have your abilities and traits and they cannot be changed.

Changing your employees’ mindsets from fixed to growth can greatly impact their performance and motivation as they progress through their careers. We reached out to business leaders to learn how you too can help develop your employees’ growth mindset in the workplace.

Benefits of a Growth Mindset

Companies with organizational growth mindset in the workplace experience many benefits, whether they see them immediately or not. “Growth mindsets are not a cure-all,” says Dan Potter, Head of Digital at CRAFTD London, “but they are an important tool among many to incorporate into the workplace.”

Dr. Carl Hendrick, another leader in the mindset space, says that pushing a growth mindset too heavily can have the unintended consequence of making people “feel responsible for things that are not under their control: that their lack of success is a failure of moral character.” Obviously, you want to encourage your employees to be resourceful, but you also need to provide them with the resources they need to succeed in the first place.

Luckily for employers, there is plenty of evidence that companies can benefit and profit from a growth mindset. Employees who work for companies that instill a growth mindset enjoy a greater sense of ownership and empowerment, says Christy Pyrz, Chief Marketing Officer at Paradigm Peptides. “Employees [working for growth mindset companies] show more commitment to their work and company. They work harder and are more willing to take on challenges.”

The evidence further suggests that those working at a growth-focused company are 47% more likely to trust their coworkers, 34% more committed to the company, 65% more likely to feel supported in risk-taking, and 49% more likely to say their company fosters innovation. Overall morale also increases at companies with a growth mindset.

How to Develop a Growth Mindset

Microsoft attributes its record growth to the application of a growth mindset. Joe Whittinghill, Corporate Vice President of Talent, Learning, and Insights at Microsoft says, “Our fundamental belief is that our culture transformation and our company transformation and where we are today and where we are headed is absolutely grounded in a deep understanding of a growth mindset.”

If you want your company to excel (pun intended) as Microsoft has, try developing a growth mindset and help your employees by applying the following strategies.  

Change How You Evaluate

Mark Sider, CEO and Co-Founder at Greater Than, encourages those that wish to change company mindset to focus on learning instead of output. “Companies that are stuck in a fixed mindset are they themselves fixated on measures of output,” Sider said. “Number of units sold or project timelines are of course important, but zooming out and examining how an employee is growing is just as important.” 

Consider setting goals that are focused on improving an employee’s skills instead of boosting their numbers. This recommendation might leave those in the sales field scratching their heads but think about it on an employee level. If you have an employee who isn’t hitting their numbers each quarter or month, ask yourself what could you teach them to change that? Maybe they could use a lesson on prospecting or phone demeanor. Set goals on pinpointed aspects of their sales approach and watch their numbers rise in response.

Give Growth-Oriented Feedback

If employees do fail, don’t shame or stigmatize. Doing so can cause them to lose confidence in their abilities and make them less likely to try again in the future. “Try instead to shape their failures into a learning opportunity,” says Karim Hachem, VP of eCommerce at Maxine of Hollywood. “The failure will provide you both with valuable insight into their learning style and into what worked as well as what didn’t.” You can also use this information to help you grow as a leader and examine what you could have done differently along the way. 

Make sure employees feel in control when you dish out constructive criticism in order to deter them from feelings of self-doubt. “If employees feel like they can’t do anything to remedy a situation, they might start to believe that they are unworthy or uneducated or spiral into a feeling of helplessness and all of the emotions that come with that,” added Hachem. “Help them to attach a more temporary explanation for what happened.”

Help your employees see where they made a mistake and how they can avoid it by changing their behaviors and actions to move past this incident.

Lina Miranda, VP of Marketing at AdQuick adds that overly praising people when they accomplish a goal can cause a fixed mindset as well. “When we do this, we send a message that their talent and their successes are the only things that matter. When they have a future setback, they might have difficulty dealing with it as a result because they can’t acknowledge their mistakes.” This mindset might make them reluctant to take on a project or task that they might fail at because they refuse to accept failure. “Instead, they will opt to do things they are already good at to further showcase their abilities.”

To avoid this, praise employees for their efforts in order to encourage a growth mindset.

Invest in Them

Foster an environment of experimentation and curiosity. Every initiative your company takes on should be seen as a learning opportunity and a way to push the boundaries of what your company is currently doing. 

“Take a Pixar approach,” says Umer Usman, Head of Growth at AvantStay. “Allow every idea to be heard even if it doesn’t seem like a fit at first. You never know what might spread the germ of a future idea.” Once ideas are heard, foster them by helping employees evaluate those same ideas.

Ask important questions like, what problem is idea solving? Why is this a good time for it? What are the risks? Make them a part of the process and help them think critically about these types of processes.

“You want your employees to feel supported and safe to share their point of view; not judged on just the potential outcomes,” Usman added. “Recognize their contribution to the process whether it leads to success or not. That’s what’s important.”

Invest in Employees

Every good company invests in its employees in some way. Growth-mindset companies don’t just anticipate gaps in their employees’ skills, they invest in upskilling and reskilling.

“Don’t fall into the habit of thinking that your employees are only designed to do the jobs they are already doing,” says Hector Gutierrez, CEO at JOI. “A good, growth-minded leader will understand that their current employees are more than able to take on challenges of the current and future problems with the proper training.” Gutierrez asks if you don’t believe in your current employees’ ability to learn, why did you hire them in the first place?

If you are facing skills gaps in your organization as technology changes and evolves, focus on reskilling and upskilling your employees to meet the challenges. Investing in these programs for your employees shows them that you believe in their potential which will foster a growth mindset as they grow in their roles to take on new responsibilities.

Coach Employees

Understand that your employees have great and untapped potential. The sooner you do, the more they will excel. Rachel Roff, Founder and CEO at Urban Skin Rx says that a growth-minded company will understand that investing in employee coaching with those that wish to learn or grow can have long-term benefits.

“If an employee shows interest in collaborating with other teams or being coached by them, you should be the first one to help them do so,” Roff says. “It’s only going to help you out in the long run if an employee feels like they can find where they fit in in your company and will receive coaching on how to succeed in any position.”

Mentorships are a great way to coach those who are looking to break out of their current role and climb latterly or horizontally through the company.

Next Steps

“Your work’s not done yet,” says Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager at Patriot Coolers. “You have to continue the growth mindset long after you help to develop it. Simply talking about it won’t do.” The steps here provide a great outline to get things rolling, but the effectiveness will ultimately come down to your commitment.