4 Practical Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset
In the modern workplace, change is constant. There are smaller, anticipated changes like taking on a new goal or project. And then, there are bigger, unanticipated changes like mergers, acquisitions, and leadership transitions. Learning to accept change in all its forms is the key to success in companies of any size.
How do you help your employees take on any change that comes their way? Many learning and development (L&D) leaders believe encouraging a growth mindset is the key. Recently, we gathered a panel of L&D experts to speak on this topic:
- Annaliese Glückert is the Senior Manager of Tech Learning and Skills Building at Adidas.
- Christina Thimmel is the Lead Learning Designer at MaibornWolff GmbH.
- Karl-Ludwig Knispel is the Head of People Development and Learning at SIX.
- Stephan Cord is the Director of Project Management at Computacenter.
Below, these leaders share their insights about how to develop a growth mindset at your organization.
The connection between growth mindset and change agility
It’s normal to have an adrenaline-pumping fight or flight response to change that’s out of our control. But this isn’t the only way to respond to change. Change agility refers to our adaptability to change, and it’s something that can strengthen with practice.
We can hone our situational awareness and self-awareness to respond to change more constructively. Situational awareness allows people to take a step back when they encounter change and identify what steps they need to take. Self-awareness is a type of emotional intelligence that helps people reflect on their feelings and recognize how to move through them productively.
When you help your employees develop a growth mindset, they learn not to fear failure and uncertainty. Similarly, when you give them the tools to improve their change agility, they become more self-aware and adaptable.
4 ways to develop a growth mindset
There’s no single way to help your employees develop a growth mindset. L&D leaders share several tactics that have worked at their organizations.
1. Tap into intrinsic motivation
Some organizations naturally value learning and employ many people with a growth mindset. If this is the case for you — great. Tap into the intrinsic motivation of your workforce. “But not everybody has it by nature,” says Karl. If your employees struggle to take on a growth mindset, try to nudge them in that direction. “You need to orchestrate a system around it and processes so the growth mindset can develop over time.”
Nudging involves giving your employees a choice. “It doesn’t make sense to force our colleagues to learn and tell them which topics to focus on. Everyone knows best which topics they have to improve,” says Christina. The L&D team’s job is to offer a variety of topics and learning experiences. “This way, our colleagues can decide when and how they want to learn.” Christina recommends trying different formats like face-to-face training, Udemy courses, and discussion forums.
2. Get influencers invested and involved
Another tactic to promote a growth mindset is to get influencers invested and involved. No Instagram celebrities or YouTube stars to speak of in your office? That’s okay — Karl says it’s about having enough people to create a tipping point. “We have communities of practice that talk about what they’ve been able to accomplish and how they wouldn’t have had the ability to do this before.” These success stories influence other employees who realize they don’t want to miss out on the chance to learn and grow. And before you know it, you’ve got a company full of growth-oriented people.
Don’t underestimate the power of leaders as influencers. Leaders can role model their own growth mindset by attending and participating in trainings. Another simple tactic involves reframing questions. When leading a retro, they can ask, “What did we learn?” instead of “What did we do wrong?”
3. Tie learning to a larger narrative
Sharing stories of learning can be beneficial, but you can even take it a step further. Stephan recommends creating a larger narrative that ties learning to business results. “We discuss learning whenever we can, give examples, and make our employees proud of the innovations that are driven by our customers. This motivates people.”
Tying learning to a larger narrative can also involve describing the mindset shift it involves for employees. For example, the IT leaders in Pima County, Arizona, see learning as a way to empower people to solve problems in innovative ways. Deputy IT Director Mark Hayes says, “We want people to look around them and be aware of their circumstances and situations and think outside the box when solving problems.” And, of course, when it comes to spending taxpayer money more efficiently, this is a story that everyone can get behind!
4. Allow time and space for growth
If you want to encourage a growth mindset, make sure you allow time and space for this to occur. “It’s key to understand the difference between learning and performing,” says Anneliese. “We are almost always on a hamster wheel and don’t stop and realize that we need to move into that learning zone. How do we stop, reboot, and carry on?”
You can take steps to make time and space for learning in your organization. Encourage everyone to block off time on their calendars every month and avoid scheduling other meetings at this time. You might create a dedicated space in the office — like the quiet car on a train — where people can go when they want to focus on learning.
Facilitate growth mindset and change agility at your workplace
Growth mindset is the key to facing challenges head-on. It helps employees accept that mistakes and uncertainty are inevitable and fosters more openness. And given the unpredictability of the world, developing growth mindset and change agility will become your competitive advantage.
Looking for additional ways to help your organization prepare for an uncertain future? Download the Change Agility workbook for tactics to help your teams develop resiliency and the ability to face change without fear.