We have all heard the talk of mindsets, whether it is fixed or growth. However, as you have probably read, it always centered around the individual. It is described as a belief that your qualities are carved in stone and lead to a host of thoughts and actions. At the same time, a belief that your qualities can be cultivated and lead to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road. Each mindset takes you to a different path or level of development.
Fixed vs Growth-Individual
In a FIXED MINDSET, people believe their qualities are fixed traits, and therefore cannot change. These people document their intelligence and talents rather than working to develop and improve them. They also believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required.
Alternatively, in a GROWTH MINDSET, people have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience. When people believe they can become smarter, they realize that their effort affects their success, so they put in extra time, leading to higher achievement.
I just finished reading a book called Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. She thoroughly explores the power of mindsets.
Fixed vs Growth-Organization
However, as I have been thinking of this book for the past few days, I came away with the thought that this mindset can be attributed to organizations as well. As I watch organizations respond to COVID-19, I am watching a fixed mindset in organizations and culture. When we look at Fixed we get:
Avoids challenges – Let's play it safe and keep on doing what made us successful
Gives up easily – We can't penetrate that new market for whatever reasons
See effort as a waste of time – We have spent too much time, let's get back to basics
Ignores feedback – We have always done it this way
Feels threatened – Let's be comfortable with our prior game plan
A deterministic view of the world – We have been successful in the past with this plan.
If we flip that coin and view the Growth Mindset organization, we get a different view on how:
We embrace challenges and difficulties
We are in continuous learning mode
We will continue onward despite setbacks
We see effort as a path to mastery
We treasure feedback either from clients or our workers [all of them]
We find lessons in every setback and success
We develop a greater sense of free will
This has played out and has exposed so many companies over the past few months. They are yearning to get back to normal. They are concerned about their workers as to whether they are really working. They are concerned about how to strengthen KPI to make sure that people are doing their jobs. They are concerned that people are slacking off. They are making plans to bring everybody back, and the workforce is getting out of control. They feel as if the pendulum has swung in the worker’s favor. For the most part, they had strict policies around working from home, etc. I can catalog the complaints coming from a Fixed Mind.
Caution brighter days ahead
On the flip side, I see organizations that are looking for bright spots and identifying leaders who have stepped up to the plate. They are looking to develop workforce models that will allow more flexibility. They are also looking into reimbursing workers for out of pocket expenses. A few have given thoughts of additional pay bonuses, especially for essential workers. The growth mindset is looking to expand, showing empathy, and listening to their workers.
This is a trickle-down approach as the more your leaders are leading from this fixed mindset, and it will cascade down throughout the organization.
When I see organizations announce these progressive moves, it shows that they are making the baby steps in moving into the growing organization of the future. While the others are grounded in cement for a time that does not exist, and will not be returning.
Be a growth-minded organization, your employees are waiting.
Ron Thomas is a managing director at Strategy Focused Group, a global team of Human Capital Strategist committed to helping you solve people issues within the organization. Ron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.