How to Develop a Growth Mindset at Work

We expect that you will already know that a growth mindset can benefit your organisation. We also have a sneaking suspicion that you might need a little help convincing others internally of it’s value — how will we do that? By dispelling myths about the concept, and providing tangible reasons to push for it’s adoption. Why is this necessary? Two reasons:

  • You’re here, so it’s safe to assume you may be struggling to get internal buy-in.
  • Its inventor, psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford University, said so.

“Scholars are deeply gratified when their ideas catch on… But popularity has a price: people sometimes distort ideas and therefore fail to reap their benefits. This has started to happen with my research on “growth” versus “fixed” mindsets…” 1

We’ve decided to dedicate our energy to debunking myths, while also providing a handful of practical steps that can help you develop a growth mindset at work. By the way, (HUGE SPOILER ALERT), this will increase adoption rates of learning across the business and in turn assure organisational prosperity in the long run.

Further reading: For more information on exactly why you should strive to develop growth mindsets at work, take a look at our blog — What are the benefits of a growth mindset in the workplace?

The basics: fixed vs. growth mindset

This distinction was first made by Dr Dweck in her pioneering work Mindset: the New Psychology of Success. The terms are defined as follows:

1. Fixed mindset
People with fixed mindsets believe that intelligence is static. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Individuals who fall into this category will avoid challenges, dismiss constructive criticism, fail to see the value of effort and feel threatened by the success of others.

Result: Untapped potential and premature plateauing.

2. Growth mindset
People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is earned. Individuals who fall into this category embrace challenges, learn from criticism, understand the value of effort and take inspiration from the success of others.

Result: Immortality… An attitude that is tailor-made for accomplishment.

You won’t get any prizes for highlighting which one is better for harmony in an organisation. But you will be rewarded if you can appreciate from the outset that nobody is ever exclusively one or the other.

Pro tip: A pure growth mindset doesn’t exist. It’s a process, not a state. We all feel quite comfortable pushing for growth in areas we’re comfortable with, but a true growth mindset is unphased by our comfort. For example, if an organisation required everyone to suddenly learn Spanish, there could be hesitant responses along the lines of “I don’t have the time to do that” or “I’m too old to learn a new language” — but we believe, you can teach an old dog new tricks, and so would a true growth mindset, no matter the uncomfortability of the task.

How you can support the development of a growth mindset in employees

To create an army of high performing employees who put learning and developing at the heart of everything they do, you’ll need to enable the following behaviours —

Admit you don’t know everything
Even though your inner 17-year-old might disagree, you do not and cannot know everything. When staff have the courage to admit this to themselves and each other they are entering into the right frame of mind.

Asking for help in a professional context can be daunting as nobody wants to look incompetent or, worse still, irrelevant. But this step is the secret to ensuring that doesn’t happen.

Pro tip: Organisations have a key role to play in enabling this shift. A company that expects and anticipates questions wants to create a learning culture. A business that removes barriers between learners and the answers they seek is well on its way.

Look to learn from others
People with a growth mindset believe there is value in experience and they understand that everyone’s experiences are different. Every interaction is, therefore, an opportunity to learn.

HR managers and L&D professionals should encourage staff to ask more questions of one another and to mine for information.

For this mindset to work in a collective, each individual must accept that knowledge is something to be shared and not hoarded.

Learn to be open to feedback
Nobody likes to be told their performance was inadequate, but constructive criticism is central to development.

Responding positively to feedback is equally essential. And we don’t mean grinning from ear-to-ear every time somebody points out something you did wrong. A growth mindset is not the same as a positive mindset.

Responding positively in this instance means looking beyond one’s bruised ego to see the merit in what’s being said.

Pro tip: Individuals with a growth mindset seek feedback. People stuck in a fixed mindset seek only praise and affirmation.

Be mindful of negative self-talk and triggers
The voice in your head that tells you not to try something at work in case you crash and burn isn’t all that useful (unless you drive a car for a living). That voice is telling you you’re acting above your station. This is fixed mindset fodder.

Psst… We’ve actually developed a wellbeing at work collection that will help you silence your inner critic, check it out here — Wellbeing at Work | Award-Winning e-learning

Muting that voice is, however, far from straightforward. Almost everyone turns on themselves when faced with a robust challenge/ barrage of ‘unfair’ criticism/ poor performance.

By empowering staff to identify and understand what triggers the arrival of their fixed mindset persona, L&D leaders can prevent them from reverting. By demonstrating how to speak back to it, companies can help employees persuade their fixed mindset demons to get out and push.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses
For staff to develop, they must understand what they do well and where they can improve. This might sound basic but it is foundational.

When employees are aware of their weaknesses, they can make better decisions about how to fix the problem.

From here, it’s about stepping out of the comfort zone and actively seeking challenging situations. This is, Dr Dweck explains, the true test of progress.

“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” 2

Regularly revisit and reassess your long-term goals
For employees to stand any real chance of creating a growth mindset, they must ensure their efforts are aligned with their long-term goals. These goals are a source of focus and motivation — something the growth mindset needs in spades.

The trouble with long-term goals is that they tend to evolve in unpredictable ways. For example, most Brits born in the mid 80’s probably no longer have a burning desire to have every colour of neon leg warmers.

It is important, then, that these goals are the subject of constant re-evaluation to ensure endeavour and objective are synced.

How Video Arts can help your growth mindset strategy

So now you’ve got an idea of how to create a growth mindset, it’s time to discuss the tools you’ll need. That’s where we come in.

At Video Arts, we are the pioneers of engaging learning materials and resources. Our latest learning course covers anything and everything to do with growth mindsets, from misconceptions and barriers to practical tips how to develop a growth mindset at work on a personal level, and as a part of a wider L&D strategy.

More generally, with us, you can feel confident delivering engaging learning materials that cover topics from Mental Health, to Remote Working, to Management and Leadership skill development (P.S. We’re also due to release a course on developing a Learning Culture, so keep your eyes peeled for that too). Having access to a range of learning topics is vital, but it’s only effective if it’s engaging — you can lead an employee to a learning manual but you can’t make them read it!

But, what is our secret to learner engagement? Humour. You see, humour improves absorption and retention3. It also greatly increases your chances of employees making the time to engage with content.

But humour alone won’t lead you to the promised land. You also need an exhaustive learning catalogue that is interoperable and widely deliverable — this can look like anything from SCORM compliance to xAPI integration.

Question now is: how serious are you? Get in touch today, we want to hear about it!

1 HBR: What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means
2 Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: the New Psychology of Success
3 Humor Boosts Neurological, Cognitive, and Physiological Elements to Learning

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