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Mindset as an Important Part of Innovation

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Mindset is an important part of innovation. We can argue that when it comes to triggering innovation, just confidence about your abilities is not enough. Employees need to believe that they can improve their abilities as well. Many researches have revealed that people have different perceptions of talents and skills they have. We can distinguish between two mindsets which are Fixed and Growth mindsets: In case of fixed mindset, people believe that you are born with some talents and skills, which can be useful for your future career. From these point of view, one should fix himself to particular job which is more applicable to his talents and develop himself in one particular field while ignoring all the other skills or talents that he may acquire. On the contrary, growth mindset focuses on developing any kind of abilities and talents as a result of hard work. This view does not reject an idea that people are born with the certain talents, but it gives one ability to improve himself to extent where his natural talent is not the only weapon, but he is able to acquire other talents.

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In practice, this kind of individuals are more open to changes and are more universal in terms of employability. We have to take into consideration one important point. Mindset tend to change over time and it also can be largely influenced by environment we live in. Furthermore, mindset can also vary towards different things. One can have positive expectations, or growth mindset, about acquiring fitness instructor profession but at the same time have negative expectations, or fixed mindset, about becoming an electrician. Generally, growth mindset makes human more intellectual as long as you accept many challenges to develop yourself and therefore train your mind, become smarter. Yet we talked about advantages of growth mindset at individual level but there are further benefit for organizations that hire this kind of people.

Speaking generally, in a stable and constant environment fixed mindset works just fine, but company which operates in challenging and dynamic environment, needs a growth mindset: First of all there is more innovation in the company – Openness to challenges at individual level results in whole company ready for changes, innovation and development. Secondly, performance of employee gets better – In this case we have to deal with employee goals. Mindset largely influences one’s goal. For example, in case of fixed mindset, employee believes that he has to prove his talents by performing certain job. He sets a goal to have the best performance at work and therefore, chooses a work that is easy to accomplish and he knows he will succeed. In growth mindset people tend to learn and grow since they believe, if work seems hard to accomplish, it is a chance to get better. Furthermore, this effort and struggle is understood as learning while in fixed mindset it is perceived as lack of ability.

In case of setbacks, fixed minded person gives up and becomes anxious because he believes he is close to failure while growth oriented individual analyzes what went wrong and comes up with the strategies how to improve. Managers get better – Fixed mindset perceives feedback as doubt of managers ability to lead. In a growth mindset feedback is no longer a threat to a manager but a useful tool to improve himself and learn. Also coaching ability of manager becomes better since why would he devote his time to employee if he thinks that their abilities are fixed? Only in case of growth mindset he would want to coach them. Plus, this kind of manager does not divide employees as “high performers” and “low performers”. Increased diversity – the recent studies have shown that people are less likely to apply for a job, which is advertised with fixed abilities. For example if advertisement says that they are looking for a person with these kind of abilities or this kind of intelligence.

People think that they can become victim of stereotyping as long as managers may think about you as a performer of one particular task and do not give you chance to develop. Future employees expect to see a vacancy which is requires ability and openness to learn. This is what motivated person is looking for. Increased interaction among colleagues – Fixed minded employees are more afraid to be judged about what they say so then tend to remain silent when they can speak up. In growth mindset people come up with perfect ideas without fear, they collaborate and do not find it threatening to ask for help if such needed. As we mentioned above, if person does not have absolutely fixed mindset, then he/she is a mixture of both, fixed and growth, mindsets. In other words, one may be willing to learn about marketing but at the same time consider himself not able to learn for example corporate finance. If there are things make mindset fixed, one should consider the following strategies to improve at an individual level:There always will be a person who is better that you in certain areas. Fixed minded person may start feeling jealous or demotivated. Instead, try to learn from this person, pay attention on his performance, collaborate with him, try to come up with strategies that will improve your skills, make him provide feedback on your success in this particular field.

If you have already decided to grow, always track a time. Measure your progress over time and count how much time did it take to acquire some skills or abilities. Ask yourself how good are you at things that you’ve not been so good before and provide yourself with personal statistics. Never try to keep up with somebody. This is where fixed minded employees make a mistake. If person, who you try to compare yourself, is generally better that you or has had a lot more experience, you will never play on his level and start feeling demotivated. If your abilities are better than this person’s, at some point, when you take him out, you stop growing as you already have a false sense of achievement. Suggestion – try to constantly develop your own skills and abilities over time.

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A lot has been written by psychologists about the beliefs that result in individual success and wellbeing, but how to disperse these beliefs and encourage growth mindset within whole organization ? How can manager implement risk-taking culture within employees while keeping them safe and happy at the same time ? It is extremely hard to make whole organization believe that outcome is not the only thing that matters, but potentially valuable learning opportunities are also important for growth and innovation. Here are the suggestions: First of all managers should change their feedback from “ you are good at this/that” to “try to do like this, instead of this”; give a coaching as soon as they start thinking that setback is a lack of their abilities; lead them towards success with proper strategies. Do not award employees only by their outcome but for clever risks, even if they do not lead to particular result. Consider this as investment in learning process. Do not let mistakes be perceived as representation of employees abilities. Make them feel comfortable to talk about their mistakes, discuss them openly. Hire people that are more open to challenges and able to acquire new talents.

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