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How to Instill and Foster a Growth Mindset in Your Employees When your workers have a growth mindset, there's no limit to what you can accomplish together.

By Shawn Cole Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are two primary types of mindsets; growth and fixed. Individuals with a fixed mindset have difficulty seeing past their current responsibilities or even six months into the future. When change occurs, they can become paralyzed, unsure of how to respond.

In contrast, someone with a growth mindset always looks for a new learning opportunity. They believe in themselves, and their confidence shows. They're willing to experiment even if their efforts aren't always successful.

As it turns out, this growth mindset can significantly impact the success of your organization. Here's why it's important and how to foster that mindset in your employees.

Why you should inspire a growth mindset in your employees

Suppose your up-and-coming marketing analyst has found a more reliable way to derive annual projections for your organization. You want to communicate this valuable information to your stakeholders, so you ask them to present their findings to the board. However, they immediately communicate that they're uncomfortable with this and that public speaking is not for them. The problem is that the analyst lacks a growth mindset and is unwilling to develop their skills.

While you could do your best to present it yourself, your mission might be far better served if your analyst stepped up to the plate. After all, they did the work and knew it best.

Chances are that you can think of many other examples off the top of your head where someone in your organization has rejected an opportunity to step up and deliver. As you can tell, it's important to inspire a mindset of growth in your employees. If they remain in a fixed mindset, they rob themselves of valuable opportunities and do your organization a disservice.

The good news is that changing a mindset from fixed to growth is entirely possible. After all, a person's mindset isn't set in stone. With the right tools and a little encouragement, you can help your employees develop a growth mindset that benefits them and your organization.

Here are a few tips to turn your workers into a growth-oriented team.

Hire employees who demonstrate ambition

Hiring the right workers for your organization is one of your most important responsibilities. This is one area where you can separate the wheat from the chaff, bringing on people who will contribute a growth mindset to the organization and passing on those who would only seek to maintain the status quo.

Seek people with a drive to accomplish things. Even if you're hiring for the most basic role on your team, like a part-time receptionist, you want someone interested in learning and growth, personal or professional. Ambition drives success and starts with the people you bring on board. There's no better way to establish a positive, growth-oriented mindset at every level.

Related: 6 Steps for Hiring the Right People to Build Effective Teams

Provide opportunities to improve

A quality employee will never turn down the chance to learn something new. When you allow them to expand their skill set, they'll gladly take it. They may be a little nervous, especially if unfamiliar with the task, but they'll put their best effort into performing well.

Therefore, you can further encourage growth in your organization by continually challenging your workers. Of course, you don't want to overburden them if they haven't mastered their primary responsibilities. You also don't want to just pile on new work on top of their current workload. But if you balance out their primary role with an opportunity to develop their skills, you foster a growth mindset in your employees and ensure a highly productive workplace.

Assign Ownership for Key Projects

As your employees grow more comfortable in their roles and your company continues to scale, your own workload will naturally increase. However, you can't afford to get bogged down in the minutia of new work. You must keep your responsibilities high level and the big picture — everything else can and should be delegated.

Give your managers and workers ownership over specific projects and the leeway to lead them. For example, you might ask your accounting manager to prepare your organization for an influx of investment capital. Tell them what you need: a clean set of books, up-to-date compliance and a valuation company to partner with. Set a few deadlines, and see how they perform.

By delegating important work to your team, they'll seize the chance to prove themselves. In the process, they'll further develop a growth mindset.

Make your employees a part of major decisions

Everyone likes to feel they're important to an organization. And what better way to prove their importance than by giving feedback on a significant company decision? When you ask for their input, your employees recognize that you value them, which helps them fully grow into their roles and creates a collaborative work environment.

For example, perhaps you're planning to introduce a new product and want their feedback on a prototype. You could hold a company-wide meeting and allow them to try the new item and provide their insights on its viability. Perhaps they'll point out something you hadn't noticed like a feature you could add that enhances its value to your customers.

Of course, you must rely on your product development team to sort through this feedback carefully and identify what's wise and actionable. However, even if you don't use your employees' suggestions, they'll appreciate the opportunity to contribute to something big and feel like they can take on significant responsibilities in the future.

Provide learning opportunities outside your organization

Learning opportunities inside your company are valuable for employee development, but you can also encourage them to expand their education outside the organization.

To this end, some business owners provide a yearly learning stipend that their employees can use to further their education with certifications and one-time courses. For example, you might give your workers an annual membership to Coursera so they can learn new skills relevant to your organization.

By doing so, your employees become incentivized to pursue a growth mindset, and the excuse of not having the financial means to do so is eliminated.

When your workers have a growth mindset, there's no limit to what you can accomplish together. Give them opportunities to learn new things and take on critical responsibilities. When they experience success, they'll be eager for more chances to prove their value to your organization.

Shawn Cole


Serial entrepreneur turned executive headhunter Shawn Cole is the President and Co-Founder of Cowen Partners, a global executive search firm. Shawn helps CEOs and Founders of start-ups to multi-billion dollar companies grow at scale, create value, and drive results with world-class talent.

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