Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University known for her insights into the growth mindset said that “A company that cannot self-correct cannot thrive”. This is especially true now when organizations are increasingly adopting technology in the digital age, making transformation obligatory. Only an intrinsic culture of embracing change with an open mind – a growth mindset – will define who will lead the digital race! While a seamless integration of new-age technologies and innovative tools with vital business functions is integral to success, developing a growth mindset across all levels of the workforce will help organizations reach their full potential.
A study across several Fortune 1000 companies published by the consulting firm, Senn Delaney, highlighted a correlation between a ‘growth mindset’ and positive behaviors in organizations that continue to stay relevant for most organizational attitudes even today. The study also revealed that the employees in organizations with a fixed-mindset are less keen to take up innovative or challenging work. Interestingly, managing associates in growth-mindset companies expressed significantly more positive views about their teams than the supervisors in fixed-mindset companies.
What having a growth mindset means and why does it matter so much in the digital age?
A growth mindset signifies the belief that a person can develop and further hone his/her talents, skills and knowledge through self-motivated efforts, and consistently imbibing insights from the environment. People with such an outlook are more focused on learning to achieve success in both, professional and personal fronts. Organizations that foster this mindset are also known to offer far greater support to their employees for collaboration, instilling a strong sense of belongingness in them, which further promotes a healthy interchange of views, opinions, ideas, and knowledge among the workforce, thus encouraging people to acquire new and creative skills. However, incorporating a growth-oriented culture in the digital age goes much beyond upskilling employees. To empower innovation in a time of technological reform, an organization must empower its people to be intellectually ready to embrace change. Not only should leaders identify, and at times, foresee market shifts, they must shape their teams to react quickly to emerging trends. By welcoming new ways of working and thinking, an organization can cultivate a disruptive approach and hone its competitive advantage. It is this that subsequently leads to the development of ahead-of-the-curve products and creates iconic work cultures, which are ultimately a win-win for all.
Only an intrinsic culture of embracing change with an open mind ± a growth mindset ± will define who will lead the digital race!
Imbibing change across all levels integral to organizational success
Changing the mindset of an organization only happens as a trickle-down effect. The foremost step to combating a fixed mindset must come from the top, as leaders establish the tone of the desired culture. CXOs should be involved in all efforts made in this direction, and not rely solely on the middle management to communicate the belief system and vision of the organization to the employees; they must encourage ideas coming from all levels. Distributing control over processes, allowing freedom to stray from the plan, and maintaining an approachable demeanor are the key traits they will have to imbibe and exhibit.
Supporting these goals is a bigger quest that can only be made possible with the contribution of every single employee. Each member needs to first focus on assessing his personal behavior and amend his own habits to align with the overall objectives of the organization. Only then can the tasks of driving mass engagement and steering change in group-thinking materialize.
A company asking its workforce to accept a major operational change without reflecting the same in its SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) is not much different from a person asking another to change his opinion without providing a compelling argument. Developing a growth mindset can only be realized with a strong vision and philosophy, conveyed well to the people. HR practices and company policies must underpin the institutional purpose by bringing all employees on-board for the change.
Aligning individual and organizational purposes will help the cause by getting people to accept the reform. Integral to the process, are also the opportunities to share, collaborate, innovate, and exchange knowledge that all employees must have access to. They must choose a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive one, and be willing to work consistently to improve their performance. Employees whose value systems and thinking are in sync with those of the company already will become the most valuable assets in the process. Attracting and retaining human capital with a mindset similar to its own is what every organization must centralize its momentum around.
Fostering change acceptance – phase one in developing a growth mindset
Resistance to change is a default setting in human nature. The battle with constantly changing technology makes people, more often than not, question their altering nature of work. The rise in applications of advanced technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Blockchain, Virtual and Augmented Reality, at times also pushes people to wonder if their jobs are secure and sustainable. It is imperative that a company ensures its workforce that these advances are only adopted as aids and not replacements. Building confidence amongst employees to embrace the new ways of working is the stepping stone to creating a long-term culture of accepting change in the organization.
A mindset change cannot and should not be perceived as an event or even a series of events – it is a gradual transition that involves moving from a fixed to a mixed, and then to a growth mindset
While the C-suites must lead, and managers must be aligned to the mindset shift strategy, reinforcement should come through integrated internal policies and processes. Finally, it is worth underlining that a mindset change cannot and should not be perceived as an event or even a series of events. This is a gradual transition that involves moving from a fixed to a mixed, and then to a growth mindset. Only an organization that is interested in investing the time, efforts and energy in the whole journey can truly achieve any progress and ultimately attain continual growth.