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How companies systematically prevent the right mindset (Mindset: Part 3/5)

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You now know how from the first and second articles we define the agile mindset and how it shapes corporate culture, But can it also be created or trained to take advantage of it?

The answer is "yes", as has been shown in many different studies. As a small example: Yeager et al. (2014) trained a school class and showed that eight months later the students were less sick, less stressed and had better performance. You can find more examples in one Ted-Talk by Carrol Dweck, We have based on the work of Keating and Heslin (2015) recorded what needs to be done. Let's start with measures for the company level.

Corporate level

In 1998, two researchers manipulated (Mueller & Dweck) Subjects specifically in a study, so that afterwards half of the subjects had a fixed and the other half had a growth mindset. How? Quite simply: In the fixed mindset group, they told the participants that they had achieved the good results of a previous test because of their high “intelligence”. They created the Growth Mindset group by justifying this with the “effort” of the test subjects.

And now it gets interesting: The two groups were then given a more difficult task. If the test subjects failed here, those with the induced fixed mindset not only reported that they found the task less fun. They also made less effort and did not last as long when it came to processing tasks.

How is the fixed mindset often induced in companies? Murphy and Dweck (2010) say through "genius cultures". According to the researchers, these are characterized by artifacts such as newsletters, speeches by top management, and by defined promotion criteria and reward systems. In such cultures, executives often speak of “star performers”, very “talented” or “talented” employees, or “high potentials” (Michaels, Handfield-Jones, & Axelrod, 2001). All of this supports the Fixed Mindset Weltbild: Some are talented, creative and intelligent from birth & #8211; and not others.

The Enron company, for example, boast of only recruiting the smartest. At the same time, employees who belong to the worst 10% to 15% are fired. This leaves no doubt that, from a management perspective, employees can hardly be further developed & #8211; the fixed mindset is funded (Keating & Heslin, 2015).

An important step in the challenge of changing people's mindset must be to adapt the company's internal and external communication. Growth cultures are characterized by the fact that there is a collective belief in the omnipresent possibility of further development. Corresponding signs must be made public. Specifically, you can make the following offers, for example: peer mentoring, 360º feedback, coaching, training leave, job shadowing and job rotation. Of course, executives also have a central role in how culture is perceived.

The role of managers

A first step that managers should take: they have to publicly celebrate substantial employee developments in all areas. In the communication between managers and management, too, there always has to be resonance: good employees are not good because they are smart. They are good because they work hard (Mueller & Dweck, 1998).

In general, any feedback related to who you are should be avoided. Feedback is more conducive to the processes that enable learning and performance improvements & #8211; So on changeable things (eg hard work, looking for feedback, systematic planning; Cimpian, Arce, Markman, & Dweck, 2007). In connection with this, it makes sense not to set performance goals, but learning goals (VandeWalle, 1997).

A strategic leadership style that fits well with the growth mindset here described by Amy Edmonson. She puts learning at the center, with the principle: “Even as managing directors we don't know everything, make mistakes, and have to learn for ourselves what is the best way. There is no fixed, correct way. ”Appropriately, Edmondson recommends the Corporate strategy as a hypothesis to formulate, and not as something fixed that is not questionable. So every manager is clear, "I may doubt," which makes the psychological safety is promoted and at the same time indirectly communicated to everyone that the top management is constantly developing.

Of course, executives must first be able to lead themselves in order to lead their employees (# classics). This also applies if you are to cultivate the growth mindset. If managers themselves respond to challenges and defeats with a fixed mindset, they should first work on themselves. Exercises for this can be found here in our next blog post.

Finally, it should be added that it is of course not enough to change communication. What is communicated externally by the company must of course also be lived. For example, there could theoretically be a bonus for the effort of employees & #8211; not for their results. More, more specific Measures both on team& #8211; as well as on an individual level are in the next two blog articles addressed. We have also put together information on how Echometer helps to establish an agile mindset in the company


Cimpian, A., Arce, HMC, Markman, EM, & Dweck, CS (2007). Subtle linguistic cues affect children & #8217; s motivation. Psychological Science, 18 (4), 314-316.

Keating, LA, & Heslin, PA (2015). The potential role of mindsets in unleashing employee engagement. Human Resource Management Review, 25 (4), 329-341.

Michaels, E., Handfield-Jones, H., & Axelrod, B. (2001). The was for talent. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Mueller, C., & Dweck, C. (1998). Praise for intelligence can undermine children & #8217; s motivation and performance. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 75, 33-53.

Murphy, MC, & Dweck, CS (2010). A culture of genius: How environments lay theories shape people & #8217; s cognition, affect and behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 283-296.

VandeWalle, D. (1997). Development and validation of a work domain goal orientation instrument. Educational and psychological measurement, 57 (6), 995-1015.

Yeager, DS, Johnson, R., Spitzer, BJ, Trzesniewski, KH, Powers, J., & Dweck, CS (2014). The far-reaching effects of believing people can change: Implicit theories of personality shape stress, health, and achievement during adolescence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106, 867-884.

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