Last updated: 01.02.19

How to Develop a Growth Mindset in Employees

A growth mindset is a challenging belief for businesses. Overall, it seems to go against all of our instincts for a successful business, as it encourages embracing failures, mistakes and taking risks, and doesn’t seem to encourage measuring success in quantifiable ways.

But if a business wants to improve the company culture, change a negative mindset, challenge and change employee interactions and attitudes, build loyalty, promote creativity in employees and encourage team work and trust in one another, then embracing a growth mindset could be the way to go.

So, how do you achieve this? Here are some suggestions to keep in mind.

It cannot be dictated 

This is key. As growth mindset has become quite a ‘buzz phrase’ in the business world, it’s easy to decide to achieve it, but it must be fundamental to your business culture and underpin everything. A growth mindset is an inherent belief about one’s own abilities, and will challenge well-established beliefs, attitudes and habits. We all know how difficult it is to change these, hence, it cannot be dictated.

It’s about the people 

A growth mindset is present in individuals, and for this reason a company can’t really be said to have a growth mindset if the belief isn’t inherent in the employees. Therefore, we recommend focusing on employee growth. You can do this by carrying out staff surveys to decide what your focus should be. Here at Virtual College, we are working on building resilience and confidence in our employees by encouraging growth mindset activities.

Use L&D to encourage the change 

To achieve said resilience and confidence, we decided to focus on workplace learning, as learning and development is such an inherent part of the growth mindset. We looked at our current learning culture and ecosystem and asked what needed to be changed and decided that we had to start encouraging self-directed learning – learning beyond the training course – as part of a wider learning and development programme to encourage a continuous learning process.

Many businesses ask their employees to complete traditional face-to-face training or e-learning. But as there is rarely much follow up or opportunities to try out the new knowledge or skill, it is never fully embedded.

To combat this and encourage self-directed learning, one of the areas we looked at is social learning, using a platform where people can build on their training, and comment, swap ideas and share resources they have found. We’ve had to accept that learning doesn’t just happen in a seminar, conference or through e-learning, but instead we recognise that we also learn outside of those realms too, whether that is books, YouTube videos, conversations, or articles. This type of learning platform portrays learning as constant and evolving, rather than a static, ‘tick box’ exercise. It is seen as something truly useful and beneficial – something to be excited about, and it is more likely to be put to use and practised.

It’s all about the words you use

You have to use words carefully, as words and language are important to changing mindsets. For example, considering the way you give feedback and evaluation is a great space to start changing people’s thought processes and developing a growth mindset at work. Research has found that if you praise the effort someone has put into their work, then they will tend to work harder. But if they are praised for being smart or intelligent, then they tend to stop. This must be reflected in training as well, as it is futile to drive a change if the training you administer then encourages the opposite mindset.

Practise what you preach

It is a big change and it needs to be led from the top. The managers and leaders of the company need to live and breathe this belief as well, and make sure they are practising what they preach. If they aren’t, how can they expect anyone else to follow?

Commit to the idea

As changing the inherent cultures and beliefs of a business cannot happen overnight, commitment, patience and perseverance is required. It needs to be taken seriously, and believed that it is a reasonable investment into the organisation’s strategy. Though, remember, a business should only embrace and cultivate a growth mindset if they think it can be of benefit to their organisation strategy. It should never be done for the sake of it.

If you’re interested in learning more about growth mindset, we have a wealth of resources. Whether it is a free bite-sized course (which is also available in our Personal and Professional Development Training Package), or a range of articles, videos and recorded seminars – we’ve got the topic covered.