group of staff sitting on chairs, facilitator calling on someone

Using Growth Mindset to Create Better Staff Training Programs

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Are you looking to create better staff training programs that truly encourage growth? When employees believe that they can improve and grow, they are more likely to take on new challenges. They are also more likely to be receptive to feedback. Training programs will be more effective when this type of “growth mindset” is present in your organization and in all of your staff development efforts. In this blog post, I discuss the benefits of infusing the growth mindset philosophy into the workplace and specifically into your training and staff development initiatives. Better staff training is possible if you are intentional and careful about how to design and implement it.

What is a “Growth Mindset?”

A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed over time. It contrasts with a “fixed mindset,” which believes that intelligence and abilities are static traits. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve their skills through effort and practice. They also understand that failure is an essential part of learning and growth. They are able to accept feedback so that they can continually improve.

When an individual possesses a growth mindset, they believe that their intelligence can change – that they can continually learn new things. The same is true if you substitute words like “artististic talent, business ability, sports ability, customer service skills” or any other skill for the word intelligence in that sentence (Dweck, 2016, p.12)

An organization that emphasizes growth mindset believes the same thing about every individual and team that is part of their structure. They believe that their organization can learn and grow and improve with practice and attention.

The Benefits of a Growth Mindset at Work

One of the benefits of a growth mindset within an organization is that it encourages employees to take on new challenges. When people believe that they can improve and grow, they are more likely to try new things.

Here are some of the key benefits to focusing on growth mindset in the workplace:

– Increased Engagement and Motivation – When employees believe that they can improve and grow, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated at work. They will see their job as a challenge and be more willing to take on new tasks.

– Increased Productivity – Employees who have a growth mindset are more likely to be productive and innovative. They will be less afraid of failure and more willing to experiment with new ideas.

– Better Learning Opportunities – Employees with a growth mindset are always learning and seeking out new opportunities for growth. They are more likely to be receptive to feedback and willing to learn from their mistakes.

– Improved Teamwork – A growth mindset creates a collaborative environment where employees are open to new ideas and constructive criticism. They are more likely to work together towards common goals.

staff congratulating one of their members

How to Infuse a Growth Mindset into Staff Training Programs

If a growth mindset is to be a central philosophy in your organization, then training and professional development should be a significant emphasis. And those training programs should emphasize a growth mindset philsophy in how they are designed and implemented. In short, infusing the growth mindset can lead to better staff training programs.

There are many ways to infuse a growth mindset framework or approach into your staff training programs. One of the first steps you can take is to be explicit about your desire to focus on growth in your organization. Begin by introducing your team to the growth mindset concept and giving them opportunities to learn more about it. This might include shared readings, such as Carol Dweck’s book Mindset or shorter summaries of the concept such as this one from Harvard Business Review. You can also use more interactive sources of learning such as this Ted Talk by the author, Carol Dweck, herself.

Then, make sure that growth is emphasized in your training programs as they are designed and implemented. Provide regular opportunities for employees to learn and grow their skills, and encourage them to take on new challenges. Be sure to give feedback frequently, both positive and negative, so that employees can learn from their mistakes. Finally, celebrate progress and success, no matter how small it may seem.

What do Growth-Focused Training Programs Look Like?

So you know that focusing on learning, feedback, and celebration is key to implementing a training program that emphasizes a growth mindset, but what does that actually look like on the ground? What do better staff training programs actually include?

Here are a few more specific ideas for training program design that reflects a growth mindset philosophy:

  • Offer variety and choice in staff learning opportunities, including online courses, workshops, and conferences. By encouraging staff to make their own learning choices, you are placing learning more in their own hands, thus demonstrating that they are not only responsible for their own learning, but able to make choices about how to pursue it. This self-ownership encourages a growth mindset.
  • Encourage employees to take on new challenges and experiment with new ideas, and then be responsive to ideas that emerge. Create clear and visible opportunities for employees to share their ideas and get feedback on them, such as regular space in team meetings or dedicated “new ideas” workshops. Thank them for their contributions, be honest with your feedback, and do your best to encourage the implementation of new ideas from the team as much as possible. The more often you are able to listen and respond to new ideas, the easier it will be for team members to suggest them without fear of reprisal. They will also get used to mixed feedback, and become more comfortable with ideas not always being accepted right away. This frees them to contribute more regularly.
  • When it comes to celebrating success, strive to be creative and specific in how you acknowledge growth among team members. A “pat on the back” only goes so far if employees feel like that is all that they are getting. If possible, create specific rewards systems for employees who achieve learning credentials, such as monetary raises or step increases. In addition, new learning should be reflected in job descriptions, responsibiltiies, and titles. When employees demonstrate that they are growing significantly, sit down with them to talk about how that growth can be reflected in their job. Likewise, celebrate growth as a collective team. When all members of the team achieve a certain credential or when a team is able to accomplish a project because of the growth that occured, take time to specifically name and celebrate that. Click here to read more about how to celebrate success meaningfully.

The growth mindset is a powerful tool for improving staff training and development programs. By emphasizing growth, employees are more likely to take on new challenges and learn from their mistakes. In turn, this will lead to a more innovative and productive workplace. But doing so requires consistent attention to the underlying philsophy and promises of your training programs. It is not enough to say that you encourage growth but then not follow-through.

If you’d like to apply growth mindset to your training program, but you’re not sure where to start, please feel free to reach out for a consultation. I would love to work with you on improving your training and development programs!

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