Woman holding cup of tea think about growth mindset.

How to Develop a Growth Mindset at Work

Updated August 1, 2022 . AmFam Team

Learn what having a growth mindset means professionally, how it can drive your success and how leaders can cultivate a mindset for growth in the workplace.

Learning a new skill can be fun, especially at work — it’s a great way to get better at your job, add a new talent to your resume and gain confidence!

However, what happens when you hit a roadblock in your learning? When mastering that new skill ends up more challenging than you initially thought?

That’s where having a growth mindset comes in. Understanding the difference between a growth mindset versus fixed mindset can help you learn how to better succeed in the workplace — and even in your personal life.

Let’s dive in and learn how a growth mindset can take you to levels of success you didn’t know you were capable of!

What Is a Growth Mindset (vs. Fixed Mindset)?

The concept of a growth mindset comes from Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck, who coined the terms growth mindset and fixed mindset. Through her research, Dweck uncovered that our belief systems impact our behavior, and in turn, affect our capacity to learn.

Having a growth mindset means you believe you can get better at something by putting in the time and effort. You can develop or improve upon an ability through dedication and hard work. When you have a growth mindset, you’re more prone to seek learning opportunities, experiment for solutions and look at failure as an opportunity to learn.

Someone with a fixed mindset believes the opposite. You believe that you were born with a specific level of intelligence — and your talent and success come from this innate intelligence and can’t be changed. A fixed mindset means you think your skills can’t change over time and, if you fail at something once, you will always fail at it in the future.

Dweck said it best in her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” She writes, “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

Pause to take a moment now and consider this: Do you have a growth mindset, where you seek experiences that stretch you? Or do you have a fixed mindset, where you seek out the tried and true?

If you feel more aligned with a fixed mindset, but would like to work towards a growth mindset, the good news is it’s something you can work on and change!

Why Is Growth Mindset Important for Success?

A key role in workplace success is adaptability — and when it comes down to it, a growth mindset revolves heavily around adaptability. Being open to challenges, looking for ways to improve, having the willingness to learn new skills, believing you can get better and smarter — these are all preferred qualities in a work environment.

For example, say your manager gave you negative feedback on a project. If you have a growth mindset, you can take that constructive criticism and use it to improve performance and fuel growth. Instead of feeling defeated, you’ll can see the feedback as a learning opportunity to discover how to do the project better.

In contrast, with a fixed mindset, you may view their negative feedback as a sign of failure and believe it means you aren’t succeeding — even if you work hard at it. You’ll probably avoid difficult challenges or tasks in the future, and won’t seek opportunities to grow or strengthen a skill.

A growth mindset is important for success because it is your belief that you can succeed.

How to Develop a Growth Mindset at Work

Now that you know what a growth mindset is, it’s time to put it into practice. Start with these three ways to develop a growth mindset at work:

1. Set goals effectively

Be sure to set learning goals, like improving a skill, on top of your performance goals. A learning goal will help you improve a skill over time and ultimately help you advance your career — because you’re adding to your arsenal of knowledge. Where a performance goal, although also important, is a pass/fail goal that results in shorter-term thinking.

2. Ask for constructive feedback

Who doesn’t like a pat on the back after completing a project? But what’s really going to help you succeed — and develop your growth mindset — is learning what you could have done better. After a project, ask for feedback on specific areas that could’ve improved or any mistakes you made. Use this to do better, progress and drive your next project.

3. Seek out ways to challenge yourself

Are you prone to sit in your comfort zone? That’s a telltale sign of a fixed mindset. You’re not alone! Many people enjoy what’s comfortable to them. But you’ll go much further in your career by finding opportunities to challenge yourself. You don’t have to dive into the deep end right away — just start small and look for opportunities that make you squirm a little. Ultimately, it’ll be that discomfort that develops your growth mindset.

4. Discover the magic of “yet”

When you struggle with a task, it’s easy to say, “I’m not good at this.” This is a fixed mindset statement, but you can easily change it into a growth mindset statement by adding the word “yet.” Tell yourself: “I’m not good at this yet.” By adding “yet,” you’re reminding yourself that your current state isn’t permanent and can change. “Yet” means you can be good at it someday in the future!

Need some inspiration to choose a challenge and push yourself? Check out these 100 life goals examples and how to set them.

How to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Employees

So, you have a growth mindset yourself — but what about your employees? If you’re a manager or own your own business, having people on your team with a growth mindset can make a world of a difference.

Like you, they’ll be motivated to learn new skills, adapt eagerly to challenges and stay motivated even with negative feedback. And someone with a growth mindset isn’t intimidated or threatened by another person’s success, rather they’re inspired by them. That sounds like a dream team!

But how can you help encourage your employees to have a growth mindset?

  1. Start by ensuring you give regular feedback — yes, positive, but especially constructive. Someone with a fixed mindset is afraid to fail, but by developing someone’s growth mindset, they’ll take that constructive criticism and learn from it for the next time.
  2. Help them find opportunities where they can develop professionally, like encouraging them to take on a challenge even if it’s outside their wheelhouse.
  3. And when they set goals, have them dig into their development goals — where they can learn something new of interest to them.

And there you have it! Remember, a growth mindset can ultimately help you reach towards pursuing dreams you may not have thought was possible. With the right mindset, support and tools, you’ll be amazed at all that you can do.

Find More Resources for Personal & Professional Growth

So, are you ready to work towards a growth mindset or encourage others to develop theirs? You’ve got this! We’ll be here to support you along the way. Head to our resources for personal and professional development where you’ll find a variety of tips and advice to help you become your best self.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.


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