We’re spending a week working with clients in New York. We’ll be blogging and vlogging live whilst we’re here, as we examine the latest US research and take a deep dive into the work we’re doing in NYC with our clients.
How to create a growth mindset organisation for success
More and more of the organisations that Positive Change Guru works with are realising that a growth mindset is an essential element of success. Leaders are seeking to create and develop an innovative, agile and resilient workforce. Many companies are also focusing their attention on mindset at recruitment stage, recognising that people who are enthusiastic, willing to fail and open to learning and improving through such failures make great employees. In Part 2 of our series on creating growth mindset organisations, we look at why so many companies are turning their attention to organisational growth mindset.
Inspire and motivate with a growth mindset
Want to create a platform for competitive advantage in your team? Studies show that employees evaluated their growth mindset managers as being better at coaching and developing their skills than fixed mindset managers. Growth mindset managers were also more data driven, less likely to fixate on poor past performance and better at spotting performance improvement in the individuals they managed.
Encourage innovation with growth mindset feedback
What impact do your words have on those around you? Do you adopt a growth mindset and encourage others to learn, develop and adapt? If not, you can improve the quality of your interactions by communicating a growth mindset when giving feedback.
Research shows that when people have their performance compared to that of others they are more likely to adopt a fixed mindset, assuming that the purpose of comparison was to show how good they were. When a person’s current performance was compared with their past performance they were more likely to adopt a growth mindset, believing that the purpose of the exercise was to help them improve. Studies show that not only did performance improve for these people but they were also better at finding the best solution to the project they were working on.
5 Tips and tricks to create a growth mindset in your organisation
- Praise the process. Remember to praise the process of teamwork, taking on manageable risk and learning from failure. By analysing and understanding errors your team will be in a stronger position to adapt to future challenges and improve performance. Highlight progress and effort by comparing a person’s current and past performance rather than comparing them to others when providing feedback.
- Promote reasonable risk. Carve out time and resources for improving individual and team performance. Encourage innovation and experimentation, adopting a growth mindset approach to the possibility of risk and failure.
- Master the aspects of your business you avoid. Don’t avoid areas of your business that feel less than easy to master. Making a commitment to wholeheartedly engage with challenging tasks allows individuals and teams to develop new skills and abilities. Neurologist, Dr. Harry Chugani, describes the synaptic connections which occur in the brain during the learning process as being similar to roads. Chugani explains, “Roads with the most traffic get widened. The ones that are rarely used fall into disrepair” (Linley, 2007). Keep your neutrons firing to develop new skills. New or difficult tasks are an opportunity to develop new skills and build new synaptic connections, with practice both will strengthen and improve performance.
- Share growth mindset success stories. Make time to acknowledge growth mindset team and organisational practices. Recognise the hard work,strategies and processes that have enabled your team to learn new skills or excel at a new project. Encourage your team to share growth mindset practices across the organisation.
- Guard against fixed mindset triggers. Even when you work hard to develop a growth mindset business, it’s still possible to be tripped up by your own fixed mindset triggers. A fixed mindset trigger might be evident when we face criticism, are unfavourably compared with others or face a challenge, if we fall into defensiveness behaviour or insecurity then a growth mindset will be inhibited. Inevitably, some business environments can be full of such fixed mindset triggers.Guard against fixed mindset triggers in your business by focusing on being aware of when your fixed-mindset ‘persona’ shows up and then identifying what it takes to make you feel threatened and defensive. Develop a growth mindset approach by spotting your triggers, identifying the fixed-mindset persona for what it is and learn to talk back to the persona with a growth mindset voice, persuading it to work towards the new growth mindset effectively.
Learn more about mindset here:
We love to talk about all things growth mindset at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
Organisational Mindset and Culture
What is mindset?
Mindset refers to the work of Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University who has spent over thirty years studying the effect of mindset on individual and organizational approaches to learning and managing challenge.
A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and skills can be developed, that a conscious effort to strengthen and improve our abilities will increase them. In contrast, a fixed mindset is the belief that our abilities are fixed and regardless of effort, can’t be significantly changed.
Mindset also applies to the culture of teams and organisations.
Dweck has also worked with employees from a number of Fortune 1000 companies to discover the differences between a fixed mindset organizational culture and a growth mindset organizational culture. One of the most interesting findings in her research so far is that, whether an organization has a growth or fixed mindset, the employees are instinctively aware of the cultural mindset and this can have a significant impact on behaviour.
There’s no hiding mindset
“In broad strokes, we learned that in each company, there was a real consensus about the mindset,” Dweck says. “We also learned that a whole constellation of characteristics went with each mindset.”
Dweck found employees at fixed mindset companies:
- often said that just a small handful of “star” workers were valued
- demonstrated less commitment than employees at growth-mindset companies
- felt the company was unsupportive
- were anxious about failing and as a result, pursued fewer innovative projects
- regularly kept secrets and cut corners to try to get ahead
Which organisational mindset rates their employees more highly?
Supervisors in growth-mindset companies were more positive about their employees than supervisors in fixed-mindset companies, rating them as;
- more innovative
- committed to learning and growing
- more likely to describe their employees as having management potential.
The mindset an organisation fosters has significant implications for how individuals and organisations develop, innovate and navigate a fast paced, changing world. Mindset greatly influences how challenge is approached. Those working in a fixed mindset culture are less likely to take on challenges and risk failure. When failure strikes, those with a fixed mindset cope less well than their growth mindset counterparts and are significantly less likely to learn from failure.
In the meantime, more from Carol Dweck:
Here at Positive Change Guru we love to talk about all things growth mindset. Get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke growth mindset training for your organisation.
We uncover the uncomfortable truth about multitasking and why creating ‘Flow’ moments is the answer
The Myth of multitasking
Ever wondered why other people seem to master multitasking whilst you struggle to manage multiple tasks at the same time? If you’re envious of the seven-second attention span of a goldfish, flow moments are for you. Worry no more. Multitasking is and has always been, urban myth.
The truth is out. After decades of articles opining the benefits of multitasking, the ‘how to’s’ ‘Made simples’ and ‘Guides’ – we now know that the ability to focus on several tasks at the same time just isn’t neurologically possible. So when you’re checking your phone whilst talking, reading the paper whilst watching TV or driving and making a call using hands free, you’re not completely focused.
Working faster but producing less
Research by Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics at the University of California found that when we’re continually distracted we may work faster but we produce less. That would explain the plethora of mistakes we typically tend to make when we’re not completely focused on the task at hand.
Leaving mistakes in your wake?
Dr JoAnn Deak author of ‘Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” states that “When you try to multitask, in the short term it doubles the amount of time it takes to do a task and it usually at least double the number of mistakes.” Worse still, researchers at Stanford University found that regular multitaskers are particularly bad at it, suggesting that serial multitaskers are easily distracted. Known as ‘switchtasking’ quickly jumping from one task to another, leaving a slew of mistakes in its’ wake. Rather than making us more efficient, switchtasking makes us less accurate and slows us down. The problem is, we’re so convinced that it’s possible, we just don’t notice our performance has suffered due to our lack of focus.
Feeling focus fatigued?
Switchtasking can also elevate our stress levels, ramping up the pressure, feeding into the feeling that there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Research by René Marois at Vanderbilt University, using fMRI found that the brain responds to multiple tasks with a “response selection bottleneck” slowing us down as it attempts to prioritise tasks. Little wonder then, that multitasking impacts our learning and leaves us feeling even more fatigued, contributing to the release of stress hormone nasties like cortisol and adrenaline. Left unchecked, the long-term effects upon our health can be catastrophic.
The negative impact of distractions
It’s all thanks to the default mode network (DMN) a cluster of brain areas that become active when we’re not actively focusing on a specific task. It’s just the way that we’re wired.
David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work says, “A distraction is an alert. It says, orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.” The digital world that we now live in offers a multitude of distractions “It reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ. We make mistakes, miss subtle cues, fly off the handle when we shouldn’t, or spell things wrong.” To add insult to injury, multitasking makes us less intelligent than we might otherwise be.
During a Harvard study examining mind wandering by Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert 2,000 adults were tested throughout the day. Killingsworth and Gilbert found they were distracted for a whopping 47 percent of the time. What’s more they were less happy as a result, typically experiencing stressful thoughts or negative rumination. All excellent reasons to ditch switchtasking.
How to focus
So if multitasking is dead, how do we focus? The good news is your brain is a muscle, just like any other muscle in your body. The trick is to train it. Flow is a state of optimum performance and you can develop it. Here’s how.
- Minimise distractions. That means turn the TV off, put your phone down and concentrate on one task at a time. Don’t start a new task until you have finished the last one.
- Identify and work with your circadian rhythms. Keep a log of your energy levels and engagement in tasks throughout the day. Work out when you energy levels best support your focus and plan your day accordingly. Tough tasks that require focus and mental energy should be scheduled at peak energy times, less demanding tasks for when you have a dip in energy. Even better, try and schedule a walk when you know there will be a slump.
- Build that critical brain mass with mindfulness. Start with one breath at a time, focusing on the breath, not breathing deeply or changing your breathing, simply noticing what’s here, right now. Notice your breath as you inhale, feeling the breath moving over your top lip as you inhale, the coolness around the tip of the nostrils. Exhaling, feel the warmth of the breath around the nostrils. If you find that your mind wanders, just notice the distraction and bring your focus back to the breath. The more you practice this mindfulness of breath meditation the more you’ll see results in terms of your ability to focus. We know from research that experienced meditators are better able to quieten down an area in the DMN called the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) than non-meditators. That’s it, now you’re training!
- Get moving. A study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that aerobic exercise improved the areas of the brain related to attention, both long term and short term. Whether it’s walking, jogging, playing tennis or hitting the gym, investing in physical exercise will reap multiple benefits.
- Drink more (and no, we don’t mean alcohol). A 2012 study in The Journal of Nutrition found that mild dehydration increased levels of inattention in test subjects. It took as little as a 2% drop in hydration to negatively affect the subjects ability to concentrate on cognitive tests. Make sure that you keep hydrated, drinking between 7 to 8 glasses of water a day.
Positive Change Guru are experts in performance at work. We offer bespoke training, mindfulness, resilience and positive psychology courses as 1 day, bitesize espresso or organisational consultancy. Check out our events page http://positivechangeguru.com/events-2/ Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to here from you.
Image courtesy of Patrick Tomasso and those lovely people at Unsplash.