Think about a type of work or a hobby you love to do. Think of your mindset when you’re enjoying that activity? We’ve all had moments when we’ve been so engrossed in something we’re doing that when we look at the clock, the amount of time that’s passed is truly shocking. At those times, we’ve just been so absorbed that we forgot about the world around us. We’ve also all experienced the opposite—watching the seconds click down at the rate of freezing syrup.
Obviously, work is work, and we’re not going to enjoy it all the time, but the lack of engagement among US workers is astonishingly low, sitting around 33% according to the most recent Gallup poll. There are many factors that contribute to low engagement in the workplace. But one you might not have thought of is the impact of both manager’s and employees’ mindset on productivity and overall morale.
Understand the Importance of Mindset
Mindset is an incredibly important component of productivity, innovation, and persistence. Research by psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford reveals that there are two major mindsets: The fixed mindset and the growth mindset. People in the fixed mindset don’t believe that they can increase their intelligence or make changes to their personality. Instead, they depend on their own perceptions of their abilities.
People who practice the growth mindset, however, feel that intelligence and ability can be increased. They see failure and criticism as an opportunity, instead of an attack or a negative consequence.
This is why mindset is so important in the workplace. It can literally mean the difference between people playing it safe, minimizing their effort, and staying disengaged. Or it can mean productivity, engagement, and a happier, more fulfilled workforce. So how do you cultivate a growth mindset in your team? Here are some tips.
Invest Everyone in a Shared Goal
Most companies have mission statements that outline company values. But whether or not the organization embodies those values at every level is highly variable. Inspiring people to explore the “why” of their work is a good place to start in developing a team-wide mindset.
Transformational leaders can rally people around a shared vision. They help them to understand the value of their place in attaining that vision. People who feel truly valued for their contributions will be more engaged and have a more growth-focused mindset, allowing them to learn, develop, and devise innovative solutions.
Be a Role Model
You can’t expect your employees to develop a constructive mindset if you’re not modelling the behavior yourself. Start by learning what it means to develop a growth outlook, and become aware of the challenges that will come up as you make the necessary changes. You’ll need to learn what your own “triggers” are for fixed-mindset behaviors and be ready to recognize them when they occur.
Part of being a role model for the growth mindset means being open to feedback from your team. Invite them to give you their feedback, both positive and critical, and start to create a culture of growth. Facilitating peer-to-peer feedback will also help your team grow, bond, and become more receptive to change and growth. Use the principles of a “student-centred” approach in education: make sure the responsibility of growth and development is distributed between both you and your team—your employees should be actively engaged in the process, and you should be there to model and assist.
People with a growth mindset tend to use their emotional intelligence more effectively, allowing them to self-regulate their emotions and motivate themselves when faced with critical feedback or failure. Without these abilities, people can lash out and create a toxic environment around them or simply stop trying to improve when faced with setbacks.
If you notice defensiveness or employees passing blame around, you might want to take the time to offer one-on-one coaching to employees who could improve their mindset.
Praise for Effort and Initiative in Addition to Results
Strangely, praise doesn’t always have the effect of motivating employees to reach new heights. Instead, it can encourage them to stick to their same patterns—the “safe” patterns with little risk of failure. With this in mind, it’s better to focus on process over results. Results do matter, of course, but the effort and discovery process is often just as, if not more important than the final result.
Give recognition for both when it’s deserved to build trust and engagement. Building organizational mindset to improve engagement isn’t a quick fix—it’s a journey. But it’s a journey that can yield rich rewards for everyone involved.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.