The journey toward a growth-mindset

No doubt you’ve heard of the growth-mindset, the concept developed by Dr Carol Dweck and which she subsequently wrote about in her book, Mindset. And if you’re not familiar with the concept or the book, you can watch Dr Dweck’s now-famous TED talk.

In the latter part of her book, Carol sets out a four step journey for developing a growth-mindset. While the focus is on what the individual needs to do to cultivate such a mindset, I think it offers a useful framework for managers and coaches too. Dr Dweck says that managers play a key role in creating the right kind of environment for people to develop a growth mindset. She also states that managers need the right kind of mindset themselves, with an emphasis on recognising and rewarding effort as well as the end outcome:

This is the process we want them to appreciate: Hard work, trying new strategies, and seeking input from others.

Here are some suggestions for things you can do to cultivate a growth-mindset among your team members:

Make regular time for reflection

In a 2014 study by Harvard Business School, researchers asked volunteers to take time to pause and reflect while attempting to solve a problem. The researchers found people were better at the task after being asked to take a moment to reflect on which strategies were working for them. This finding was also replicated in a call centre, where employees who took the time to pause and reflect did 23% better on a post-training test.

Think carefully about how you word your feedback

Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology examined the impact of feedback on student performance. Students were put into different groups, with each group receiving a particular wording of feedback, including the traditional focus on mistakes. The researchers found that one particular form of feedback boosted student effort and performance so significantly that they called it “magical feedback”. Students who received this ‘magical feedback’ chose to revise their papers more often than students who did not, and their performance improved greatly. And the wording of this magical feedback?  “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”

Encourage public declarations of goals

A 2016 study published in Psychological Bulletin found that when people are trying to achieve a goal, the more often that they monitor their progress, the greater the likelihood that they will succeed. The researchers also found that a person’s chances of success were even greater if they reported their progress publicly or physically recorded it.

Did you find this post helpful? I’d love to know, so Tweet me, or drop me a note on LinkedIn. If you have any colleagues that you feel should read this, too, please share it with them. I’d really appreciate it.

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