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VOL. 40 | NO. 9 | Friday, February 26, 2016

Your business can profit from growth mindset

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There can be many reasons that a company’s growth stalls, from competitive pressure to a rising cost of goods to the changing needs of the marketplace.

The common thread among all of these challenges – and what’s really driving the stall – is the lack of a growth mindset among employees and leadership.

Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck conducted research to examine what causes some people to simply cope with failure versus learning from it.

“For some people, failure is the end of the world – but for others – they relish it,” says Dweck in the Harvard Business Review.

The former of these two groups – the coping group – view talent as a quality they either possess or lack, which Dweck refers to as a “fixed mindset.” In contrast, other people enjoy challenges, regularly seek opportunities to learn and consistently see potential to develop new skills and abilities. It’s called a “growth mindset.”

Dweck interviewed a diverse sample of employees from various Fortune 1000 companies and gauged the extent to which they agreed with statements such as, “When it comes to being successful, this company seems to believe that people have a certain amount of talent, and they really can’t do much to change it.”

High levels of agreement with statements like this one point to a fixed mindset, while low levels indicate a growth mindset.

In fixed-mindset companies, employees felt only a small group of all-stars were highly valued, and as a result these undervalued employees were less committed to company growth.

They were more fearful of failing, sought out fewer innovative projects, were more secretive and cut more corners than their peers in growth-mindset companies.

Likewise, managers in fixed-mindset companies were much less positive about the capabilities of their teams, rating them as less innovative, collaborative and committed to learning than their growth-mindset counterparts.

So what does it take to create an organizational growth mindset? It starts at the top.

Senior leadership must drive a change in priorities with a focus on employee development and hiring from within. A focus on pedigree in recruiting must be replaced with a focus on capacity and a passion for learning.

Leadership should engage in two-way discussion with employees, regularly, regarding the company’s commitment to and vision for growth.

Resistance to change-management efforts should be nipped in the bud unless the concerns are productive and fact-based, in which case the approach to change may need to be refined.

Embrace a fail-fast culture of risk-taking in which failures aren’t penalized in cases where the failure is quickly identified and a new iteration of the solution is swiftly deployed.

Commit to measuring everything and sharing those results with all employees regularly.

Don’t stop moving, even when everything seems to be going well.

Always be mindful that contingency planning for future strategies is necessary to maintain your growth trajectory.

Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.

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