What is a growth mindset and how to establish it at your company?

Learn how to create a growth mindset within your organisation.

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It is in human nature to want to improve ourselves, and in many cases that translates to growth. When it comes to businesses, growth is one of the most important goals - regardless of your industry and niche.

You’ll hear some people talking about a growth mindset as a prerequisite for success. Is it something you’re born with, or is it something that can be learned and established at your company? Let’s find out.

What is a growth mindset?
The term actually comes from psychology, and it was coined by Carol Dweck. While researching mindsets in children, she differentiated between two types of children: those who had a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.

The key difference between the two is the way how they dealt with failure. Children with a fixed mindset saw each failure as the proverbial end of the world. On the other hand, children with a growth mindset handled failure pretty well.

The same goes for business. Companies with a fixed mindset tend to play it safe and stick to what they know works in fear of failure. Those with a growth mindset aren’t afraid to take risks for higher gains in the future. When we hear about this polarising division, most of us tend to identify with one side or the other. The truth is that no one is truly born with a fixed or growth mindset - we all fall somewhere in the spectrum between them.

While having a fixed mindset has its own advantages, we all ultimately strive for growth. So, how can you cultivate a growth mindset in your company?

Look for new education opportunities all the time
In essence, growth means sharpening your skills and learning. We’re in some pretty exciting times when it comes to the way we work, and the great news is, the way we learn at work is changing massively.

One of the easiest ways for your employees to experience growth is by upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling them to face new challenges. Instead of having your employees do the same work day in and day out, they can face new challenges and realize their full potential.

There is some more great news. Thanks to the expansion of remote work, learning and development are no longer tied to boring courses you have to attend in large halls and pay crazy money for.

Nowadays, there is a variety of learning and development opportunities through:
  • On-demand learning
  • Webinars
  • Courses
  • E-books
  • Online training
And many other learning and development activities. With a huge portion of the workforce switching to remote work, finding new opportunities to learn in a remote setting is becoming easier by the day.

Embrace “not yet” as an attitude
One of the most important aspects of a growth mindset is resilience and for some of us, it has to be learned. According to Carol Dweck (who coined the term, as mentioned above), you can do this through a process called challenge thinking.

Challenge thinking entails praising people for the process they go through in order to achieve their results. It means giving them a pat on the back for the hard work they deliver and the strategies they devise to achieve their results.

One great way of doing this is by embracing “not yet” as a mantra instead of “can’t”. Whenever you do this, you’re seeing an opportunity instead of a loss. Instead of thinking that something is impossible, you’re merely stating that you haven’t been able to achieve it yet.

When you use a “not yet” approach from the top-down level in your organisation, you may think that it’s just a buzzword, but it will slowly and surely make a difference in how you perceive loss.

Let your employees fail
If an employee asks you why they do a certain thing in a certain way and your best answer is “because that’s how we’ve always done it”, there is a lot of room for change in your organisation.

One of the fundamentals of a growth mindset is letting your employees experiment with new ways to get things done. If someone voices their opinion about a new idea to hit a certain goal or reach some KPIs, hear them out instead of dismissing it right off the bat.

Let your employees analyse their proposition together with their managers, including the risks, the potential costs in time and money, the difficulty of implementation, and more. If all checks out, let them give it a go. Even if things don’t work out, it’s a great encouragement for your employees to be able to experiment with new things.

Remember - they didn’t fail, they just found another way that doesn’t work. And if their initiative does succeed - there’s no greater gift for your organisation in terms of adopting a growth mindset.

Create a culture of open communication
Remember that sentence “Because that’s how we’ve always done it”? It’s even worse if you never explain the reasoning behind the decision.

Companies with a growth mindset have one thing in common - open lines of communication. A growth mindset entails that the employees know what the companies values and mission and vision are.

From the CEO to the top management and all the way to the frontline employees, you should embrace a culture of openness. The more employees know about an organisation, the better decisions they can make and the more confident they can be in their day-to-day work.

Open communication also means letting your employees stay in touch with each other. As your company grows, departments and individuals inevitably become isolated from each other. Make sure to provide the tools that allow your employees to stay in touch across departments.

Wrapping up
When it comes to a growth mindset, there are two main takeaways to keep in mind. The first one is that no one is born with a type of mindset and that, like anything else, it can be learned. The second thing is that growth doesn’t mean aiming for success at all costs - it means empowering your people to take initiative and not be afraid to make mistakes on the path to success.
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