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5 Questions That Identify Growth-Minded Employees

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There's nothing more challenging than scaling your business as an entrepreneur. Well, maybe there is, but for the sake of this article let's just go with it.


Turning an idea into your own genius product or service that'll change the world is one thing. After all, everything about that product represents you, the founder, and your brand. Then, once that product takes off, you need people at both the front end (sales) and back end (staff) to support its global domination.

Of course, the big challenge is finding the right people.

Related: The Leading Cause of Corporate Calamity Is Leaders Who Don't Listen

To grow as an organization you need to develop not only the systems and processes that support product demand but also the right people that contribute to its growth.

Carol Dweck introduced us to the term years ago in her bestselling book Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success and what it meant for individuals to develop one. The cliff notes version is this: Someone with a growth mindset believes that and talent are derivatives of personal will and effort. Conversely, the evil counterpart of the growth mindset is the fixed mindset, which believes that success is a personally defining label. So, if one is considered "smart" then any criticism that threatens his or her intelligence is a threat because it takes away from his or her self-defined success.

I know -- pretty deep stuff and way past my intellectual pay grade.

A growth mindset is where opportunities lay and is ideally what you want your employees to bring to the table. To inculcate a growth-minded , here are five questions to ask (and drill into employees every day):

1. How have you become better?

Here, you're looking for two things: self- and keywords. In other words, is the employee cognizant of his or her developmental progress thus far as well as growth opportunities? What specific words does he or she use to demonstrate that awareness and achievement? Does he or she use qualifiers such as, "I think," "I'd like to," "supposed to," or more assertive phrases such as, "I believe," "I've learned," or "I will?"

2. How aware are you of other departments' goals?

The goal of this question is to identify inter-departmental awareness, or the degree to which one is focused on the macro (the organization) rather than just the micro (his or her silo). The more aware people are of each other's efforts, the less the propensity for duplicative efforts and miscommunication.

Related: Never Lose Your Overachiever Culture

3. What process improvement area are you working on?

Each piece of the organizational puzzle must do its part to fit (play nicely) with the other puzzle pieces. If there's no fit, then the puzzle doesn't operate smoothly -- and just looks ugly. Constant and never ending improvement isn't just something one "checks off" for the day. Rather, it's a mindset of perpetual improvement displayed through habit.

4. When did you last receive coaching?

From the people perspective, training and development curriculums are good because they fill knowledge gaps, but they fall short of the experiential component that really drills down into one's emotions and makes that learning stick. A good way to promote personal growth is to continually push for and coaching, just as David Farr, chairman and CEO of Emerson Electric, continually asks, "When did you last receive coaching?"

5. Who's your greatest competition?

Ideally, the answer should be the company's external competitor rather than another internal department or individual. Unfortunately, many times our greatest enemy is not only ourselves but also others within the organization. If this is the case, there's a lack of shared purpose that binds the company together.

There's nothing more important to a company's growth than having the right people in the right seats on the right bus. There will always be those problem children in the rear doing things they shouldn't -- that's beyond our control -- but if the majority of "good" outweighs the "bad," then you're set up for success.

Related: Why the CEO Needs to Be the 'Consistent Emotional Orchestrator'

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