The Growth Mindset Theory

Carol S. Dweck's Growth Mindset Theory Helps Shape Human Resources Processes

Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University who has dedicated her career to researching the mindset that leads to success, indicates that most people have one of two mindsets, which determine their perspective on their own skills as well as the way they work and learn: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. According to Dweck, our mindset affects what we desire and whether we can achieve what we desire.
While working on the growth mindset, Carol Dweck examined individuals who experienced failure and found that some individuals saw failure as weakness, felt stress after failure, and tended to avoid activities which may lead to failure. On the other hand, she observed that other individuals considered failure as an opportunity to learn. She found that such individuals saw failure as part of an education process and believed that failures prepared them for future success. Dweck then called the first perspective the fixed mindset, and the second perspective the growth mindset.
We may summarize Professor Dweck’s findings as follows:
Individuals with a growth mindset believe that they can hone their skills through a combination of correct strategy, support from their environment, and hard work. Such employees think that an individual’s true potential cannot be known with certainty, and that they can make progress through dedication and hard work. They are generally keen on learning and are motivated to live up to challenges.
On the other hand, individuals with the fixed mindset believe that their skills are bestowed on them by nature, and cannot be altered nor enhanced. Such individuals focus only on those activities suited to their skills, try to stay away from other fields, and tend to document their intelligence and skills. Professor Dweck’s research suggests that individuals with a growth mindset tend to be more successful than those with a fixed mindset, because the former focus on learning, rather than worrying about appearing to be perfect (smart and successful).

The “Yet” Approach

In her TED talk viewed by over seven million people, Professor Dweck discusses the “yet” approach. We highly recommend you to watch the video. In line with this approach, she argues -based on various examples- that everyone makes progress along an individual learning curve, and that they may achieve in the future what they cannot now.
In line with this approach, Dweck suggests that instead of thinking that you fail at something (e.g. if you are not so good at making effective presentations, balancing budgets, or adapting to new technologies), she recommends adding the word “yet” at the end of your statement and saying that you are not good at it “yet”:
  • You cannot make effective presentations yet.
  • You are not good at balancing budgets yet.
  • You cannot adapt to new technologies yet.
  • You may follow this advice for yourself and when giving feedback to colleagues. Let us not forget that learning is a continuous process, and one may in the future become very successful at something in which they fail at the moment.

Why is it More Important Than Ever to Embrace the Growth Mindset in Business Life?

I guess we would all agree that the only thing that is constant in today’s rapidly evolving business world is change.
This ever-changing business world frequently obliges us to go beyond our comfort zone to take on new tasks. In order to achieve success, it is crucial to approach every task -no matter how difficult- with a growth mindset in order to advance in today’s constantly changing business world.
It is very important for individuals to embrace a growth mindset and view the changes in their functions, work environments and careers as growth opportunities, even if these may be stressful or challenging.
The growth mindset allows individuals to be open to opportunities, enables them to hone and expand their current skills, and in consequence, underpins their advancement in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.
Individuals with a growth mindset enjoy challenge, endeavor to learn, and seek more opportunities for progress in their current role and future career. Imagine an employee who aims to make progress in their career and to get promoted, regularly attends professional development programs and industry-specific conferences, and questions everything throughout their career. Individuals who possess such a growth mindset are in general the most diligent and meticulous employees.
Employees with a fixed mindset can also be successful in their career with their innate talent and indeed make a number of contributions to their organization; however, they can never attain their true potential. In general, such employees rely on their natural skills rather than expend further effort, take on roles and tasks suited to their existing abilities, always stick to the old modus operandi, and maintain a stable productivity level throughout their career.

Create a Difference by Promoting the Growth Mindset in Human Resources Processes

In the recruitment processes and other Human Resources procedures in your company, making a distinction between the fixed and growth mindsets and promoting the latter can make a critical difference.
It has been found that the employees of companies that embrace a growth mindset feel more empowered, and also loyal to their organizations. These employees in turn view their companies as organizations supportive of collaboration and creativity.
In contrast, in companies with a fixed mindset, employees frequently have recourse to cheating and deception towards each other (probably to get an edge in the talent race).
Dweck’s research on Fortune 1000 companies has revealed that Human Resources processes that encourage a fixed mindset make employees feel less valorized and more worried about failure. Accordingly, the preponderance of the fixed mindset decreases the possibility for employees to participate in innovative projects which are outside of their own field. Furthermore, when the fixed mindset is preponderant, employees see their intelligence and skills as a natural and fixed gift, and so perceive any feedback as an offense against their personality.
On the other hand, in Human Resources processes which promote the growth mindset, education and developing one’s potential gain in importance. Employees’ potential and growth mindset are taken into account in recruitment and promotion. It is considered crucial to create talent pools, uncover the full potential of existing employees and prepare them for a future executive position. Such an organization promotes education and professional development.
When the growth mindset prevails, employees tend to be innovative and collaborative, and focus on learning and progress. They look for opportunities to improve themselves, their current function as well as their organization.
Dweck indicates that executives in organizations with a growth mindset tend to express much more favorable views about their employees, and to point to their managerial potential. This in turn provides significant edge to the organization, especially in terms of enhancing employee engagement and forging a talent pool.

Take Your Business to the Next Level By Integrating Growth Mindset into All Human Resources Processes

What is the secret of growing companies?
It is exciting to achieve strategic growth by targeting a specific goal, but this is also very demanding as it necessitates commitment, and working relentlessly without losing heart in the face of failure. In order to achieve this, you need strong leadership, a team of talents sharing the same strategies, values and processes, as well as a work environment promoting the growth mindset.
Make sure that the growth mindset is present across your corporate culture and fabric, so that it permeates every department, meeting, and directive (guidelines). Take companies such as Apple, Amazon and Netflix as a source of motivation, and position the growth mindset as your company’s source of guidance and driver of change.
Think about the future and ask yourself the following questions:
  • Where will my company be in 5 years?
  • Which innovations and talents do I invest in today in order to achieve tomorrow’s objectives?
  • Am I encouraging my colleagues’ skills such as identifying opportunities, acting autonomously, and taking risks?
Raising such questions will help you build a team of creative and dedicated employees, and grow with a successful business development strategy.
The fixed mindset tries to safeguard what already exists, while the growth mindset strives for more.
A fixed mindset might be fruitful in situations where you need to stabilize an enterprise or department for a specific period or year.
However, if what you seek is innovation, more satisfied employees and a more creative culture, then the growth mindset will work miracles for you.
You can take your business to the next level by integrating the growth mindset into all your Human Resources processes.
If you would like to receive free information from 444İK Experts on how to adapt the growth mindset to the Human Resources processes specific to your company, please fill out the form and we will contact you.
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