Digital technologies have progressed faster than any other innovation in history, reaching half the world's population in only two decades. This technological uncertainty is driving companies to evaluate their corporate strategies. Businesses must have the capacity to adapt quickly to rapid change to be competitive. A new type of workforce is needed to meet this demand.
Companies need workers who are innovative risk-takers, unafraid to take on new challenges. Traditionally, businesses have not nurtured or developed this type of individual, and that is a problem. The solution that many companies have embraced is the implementation of a growth mindset culture.
What is a growth mindset?
In her 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck introduced her theory of growth versus fixed mindsets.
According to Dweck, people's beliefs about the source of their successes profoundly affect their behaviors and attitudes. A person who thinks that success is due to inherent ability has a fixed mindset; one who believes that success comes from exerting one's efforts has a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is the belief that one's basic capabilities can be cultivated through effort. People with this type of mindset know that the more effort they put into something, the better they'll be at doing it. If they're not good at it, they work harder. They enjoy challenges and see them as a chance to grow, and they view failure as a learning experience.
People with a fixed mindset see the world differently. They believe that a person's characteristics and talents are fixed at birth or locked in by a certain age. They think they will always have the same level of ability, no matter how much effort they put in.
Although Dweck initially developed her theory to address inequalities in the education system, the model has achieved much success as a corporate strategy. There has been a surge of businesses, including Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Google and IBM, enthusiastically scrambling to embrace the growth mindset culture.
The Drawbacks of a Traditional Business Culture
Businesses have traditionally viewed most employees as having a fixed skillset and ability level, hired only to perform a set of predefined tasks. In these environments, performance evaluations ensure that each employee meets a set of minimum standards, and failure is not tolerated. Therefore, most employees are competitive, mistrust their co-workers, avoid challenges and never reach their full potential.
A traditional fixed-mindset business culture does not cultivate the confident innovators that can thrive in an ever-changing technological landscape.
The Benefits of the Growth Mindset Culture
When a business embraces and fully commits to a growth mindset, an almost magical transformation begins. Employees are valued not only for what they know but also for what they can learn. Workers feel empowered to be creative and to take on challenges. They feel secure knowing that mistakes and even failures are an integral part of the learning process. The growth mindset causes innovation to flourish. Employees will have more trust in their colleagues, resulting in better collaboration and teamwork. They will be more satisfied with their jobs and feel committed to staying with the company.
Re-inventing corporate culture with a growth mindset from the top down
Successful culture change starts at the top. Managers must fully adopt a growth mindset themselves to be able to promote it throughout their organization. They must be prepared to be a role model and speak the language of the growth mindset.
Also, to create this transformation, top managers need a systemic approach: Establishing a thriving growth mindset culture will involve revising practices and policies throughout the organization. Consider the benefit of having outside help or researching strategies like six sigma to implement into your strategy.
How to Inspire Employees to Have a Growth Mindset
Businesses need to build a corporate culture in which all employees are empowered and encouraged to develop their own growth mindsets. As a company implements this culture, the relationship between supervisors and employees changes for the better. A supervisor isn't there to be an evaluator but a coach or mentor.
As growth mindset mentors, leaders should:
- Accept mistakes and failures as part of the learning process
- Inspire continuous lifelong learning
- Encourage employees to try new challenges
- Offer many learning opportunities
- Involve employees in setting their own ambitious but attainable goals
- Recognize effort and persistence, not innate qualities
- Focus on the strategies that led to success
- Suggest opportunities for growth and development
- Reward improvement rather than results
Although businesses are struggling to keep up with rapidly changing technology, many have been able to adapt. By adopting a growth mindset, companies empower their workers to rise to the occasion and become confident problem-solving innovators. And, in so doing, they are also enabling their employees to reach their full potential and enjoy lifelong learning.