Theorist, Carole Dwek, developed the concept of a growth mindset. Since then, popular ted talks and industry thought leaders have highlighted the importance for individuals, teams, and businesses to practice and develop a “growth mindset” in order to flourish long term.
If this is the first time you’ve heard of this concept, there are two definitions you’ll want to grasp first – that of a fixed mindset, and a growth mindset.
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,”
While you can dive deep into the topic and find debates on when a fixed mindset may be more favourable than growth, or analyse the worrying, emerging trend of the False Growth Mindset, it’s safe to say that developing a growth mindset in yourself, and your team is a useful strategy to achieve ceaseless opportunities to develop.
After reading and learning more about the growth mindset, I wanted to find a way to embed this more in my own team at work. I created a practice called Friday Fails:
Once per week, create a forum for your team to openly discuss a mistake they made, or something that went wrong for them throughout the week. Keep the focus on their mistakes, what they learned from it, or what they will do differently next time.
The benefits of developing this sort of practice with your team:
- This will allow your teams to learn from each other’s mistakes (if one person has made that mistake, chances are others will too).
- This will encourage your teams to be open and honest with each other and management. It will discourage them to feel ashamed of getting something wrong, and will encourage them to learn from the mistakes they have made.
- This will allow you to pay closer attention to what is happening in your teams. Are the same mistakes being made over and over? If so, is there something that can be changed to prevent this from happening? Maybe more specific training, or a new process is needed to help prevent these problems.
- This will help build rapport and trust within your teams. In my experience, when we openly share our vulnerabilities with each other, it creates room for honesty, openness and a deeper connection.
Some other useful tips you can help create a “growth mindset” culture within your team:
- Do not reprimand your team for bringing a mistake to your attention. While performance management may still need to take place, depending on the mistake, you should always encourage your team to be honest about their mistakes vs. trying to cover them up.
- Start by evaluating your own mindset. You can start by answering these questions, as they may give you a bit of insight into your own attitude and mindset around mistakes, learning, and growth: How do you approach change? How do you approach learning? Do you believe people are capable of growing, adapting and changing? Do you feel comfortable admitting when you’ve done something wrong? Are you open to criticism of your methods and processes? How do you encourage your team to learn? Do you demand perfection from your team? How do you handle mistakes?
- Praise effort, reward progress, and affirm willingness. Their hard work, strategies, focus, and persistence should be noticed and cheered for regularly.
- Continue to reflect and develop your own self-awareness to ensure you’re not falling in the “false growth” mindset trap. Be honest about whether the progress you’re praising is getting the results that are needed. Telling your employees, for example, that they can progress into a new role is not as helpful as showing them how they can progress with honest, direct feedback, and development opportunities.
While there is still much research needed on developing this mindset within the workplace, the findings so far suggest that at a minimum, growth-mindset firms have happier employees and a more innovative, risk-taking culture.
If you have any tips or practices for developing a growth mindset in your team, please share your ideas below.
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