Every employee has a mental framework that guides how they feel, think and behave. They also have a particular implicit assumption about their own abilities. This assumption about their own abilities is termed as a “mindset”. An employee’s belief that their abilities can be cultivated and are malleable if efforts are invested can be characterized as an employee having a growth mindset. Carol Dweck identified two types of mindsets,
Employees having a growth mindset believe that their brain and talent are just the starting points and with the help of practice and persistence, they can enhance their skills and intelligence. On the contrary, employees with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are static and can hardly be altered.
Let’s consider a situation: A manager is providing constructive feedback to his employee. If the employee has a fixed mindset, he will perceive this feedback as a situation where his inefficiency is being exposed. However, an employee with a growth mindset would perceive this feedback as an opportunity to evolve and embrace growth. The setback is not a dead end, it’s a starting point demanding a need for reflection and employing better strategies.
Mindsets are weakly correlated with personality which explains that they emerge independently. However, every employee has a mixture of both the mindsets. A research conducted by Brunette in 2013 revealed that individuals typically hold either a fixed or a growth mindset about their competencies in a particular area. Example: An employee can have a growth mindset about their ability to manage data yet have a fixed mindset about their ability to work with difficult customers. Various aspects can still a growth mindset:
Role of Organizational Culture
Mindsets can be planted and fostered. The environment or the culture that the employees work in, influences the endorsement of either a fixed or a growth mindset. Murphy and Dweck in a research conducted in 2010, explained that in a “culture of genius”, managers and employees believe that talent and intelligence are fixed attributes which drive the performance. They will always have the smartest guy in the room and anyone who disagrees with this view is dismissed as someone who is not “bright enough to get it.”
On the contrary, in a “culture of learning” rather than recruiting a skilled workforce, organizations invest in the learning of the employees. Talent and intelligence are built.
Employees are likely to hold a fixed mindset if their managers give them feedback which focuses on “who they are” and not on “what they did.” Statements such as “You are brilliant when it comes to delivering deadlines” implies the possession of an underlying ability due to which the expected performance was delivered. The employee has been labelled as “brilliant” by the manager and he tries to live up to it. However, labelling will result in shunning challenging situations where the employee’s ability to be brilliant or gifted is jeopardized.
A manager promotes a growth mindset when he praises the employee based on the effort and initiative that he has invested. Employees are more likely to invest in knowledge and skill in the face of a challenging situation. Challenge is perceived as an opportunity for developing their deficiencies. Thus, a growth mindset encourages the enthusiasm for development in an employee.
View about investing efforts
Employees with a fixed mindset believe that expending greater amounts of efforts to learn or perform well indicates a lack of talent to succeed. They are focused on validating their ability rather than developing it. Employees with a growth mindset reason their underperformance due to lack of efforts invested rather than helplessness. They dedicate themselves to a task with the power of effort. Thus, they hold positive beliefs about investing efforts which facilitate employee engagement.
Open-minded V/S Close-minded.
Employees with a fixed mindset are more likely to focus on stereotype-consistent information which results in close-mindedness. On the other hand, employees with a growth mindset are more open towards information, this open-mindedness helps them to transcend stereotype-consistent information.
A study conducted by Mangels et.al in 2006 demonstrated how growth mindsets facilitate alertness to new useful information. This open-minded adaptability proves to be an asset in various work roles involving customer service, health care etc. Especially on a managerial level, they have to be alert in recognizing and then responding constructively to unexpected developments.
Interacting and dealing with co-workers is an important part of almost all job roles. In order to yield meaningful interaction, it is essential to adopt a helpful, respectful and an open attitude. Mindsets determine whether these interactions turn out to be meaningful or make the other person feel judged, disconnected and frustrated.
An employee with a growth mindset will employ a consultative and a non-judgemental approach to discover a win-win alternative to a problem situation. Evidently, an employee with a fixed mindset in a problem situation will blame others, invest energy in seeking revenge all of which results in self-defeating behaviour.
In conclusion, a growth mindset is not the only way to enable employee engagement. Example: When an employee is facing high work-role demands and experiences lack of organizational support, growth mindset may not lead to high engagement.
However a growth mindset will play a major role in how the employee perceives this situation, this, in turn, will guide his thoughts, feelings and behaviour which will impact employee engagement. If a manager is not carrying out his responsibility the employee would react with negative thoughts, decreasing their commitment. Employees with a growth mindset can educate the managers by fostering the desired support which will lead to a manager-employee exchange that produces engagement.
Organizations have employees who themselves are great sources to learn, at BHyve we help the employees learn from each other by enabling a growth mindset. To know more, contact: www.BHyve.io