My blog

Why Employee Mindset Should Matter to Leaders

Organisations are always looking for new and effective ways to motivate and develop their employees in order to boost performance. According to world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, it could all come down to mindset.

After decades of research, Carol found that peoples’ mindsets – how they perceive their abilities – played a key role in their motivation and achievement. She also found that if people changed their mindsets, they could boost their achievements.

The two mindsets defined by Carol’s research are the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. Put simply, the growth mindset means that a person believes that talent and intelligence can be cultivated over time and they are therefore open to learning and continued development. In contrast, a fixed mindset is based on the belief that intelligence and talent are fixed, and that there is nothing you can do to change or improve them. These people often experience feelings of inadequacy and believe they have something to prove to themselves and others.

So how can you cultivate a growth mindset in your people, in order to increase employee motivation and productivity, and improve results?

Personal responsibility
If people don’t take responsibility for their outcomes, they can’t change, fix or learn. By building a culture where each employee is not only responsible for their own outcomes, but their continued development, you start to put the building blocks in place for a growth mindset team. Employees need to be encouraged and supported to listen to feedback, however hard, in order to learn from it and do better next time.

It’s about more than effort

You might have employees who are in before everyone else, are the last to leave and continually put in the hard yards. But if these people aren’t delivering the right results, praising them for their effort is not going to drive any performance change. The focus also needs to be on the learning; when sheer effort alone hasn’t delivered the required outcome, you need to make sure that input and guidance helps to build new strategies and approaches to try in order to improve future performance.

It must come from the top
In order to implement a growth mindset culture, you need to embrace a growth mindset yourself – it starts and needs to be driven from the top. There’s no point endorsing a growth mindset in your team, if you then react to employee mistakes or failures as though they are harmful or problematic instead of development and learning opportunities. When this happens, employees develop more of a fixed mindset and start to focus on their limitations rather than growth opportunities.

Embed learning in your business
At the heart of a growth mindset culture is learning. And by learning, I don’t mean formal training programs, but a mentality or belief that there is always something new to learn and that learning from set-backs, challenges or failures is a way to develop and ultimately perform better. Encourage everyone in the team to always be asking;
• What can I learn from this?
• How can I improve?
• How can I help others to do better?

The journey to a growth mindset culture is an ongoing one, but when you get the balance right, your employees will be more engaged, confident and motivated, delivering improved results for your business.