Companies must innovate to meet the challenges of the new economy. Organizations that stagnate cannot compete. But how should leaders identify which direction to choose?
Feedback should guide the way. However, soliciting appropriate feedback from the right people, in the right ways—and learning how and where to deploy lessons learned—can be counterintuitive. Nurturing a learning culture requires more than just asking good questions. Leaders must also think about their methods. How do people in the organization think about “improvement”? How should they? How can the delta between the current reality and the ideal be bridged?
Fixed Versus Growth Mindset: Lessons from Microsoft
At Microsoft, executives put a premium on developing employees’ growth mindset. This approach celebrates constant and never ending improvement related to a set of skills. Team members conceptualize both successes and setbacks as part of a grander process, one not focused on specific outcomes.
By contrast, many companies conduct internal reviews using a fixed mindset. This approach sets rigid bounds on people’s abilities and views successes and failures through a black and white lens. Successes flow from talent, as opposed to effort; and setbacks demoralize, because they suggest someone has reached the limits of his or her ability.
How Mindset Affects Perception of Feedback
Research demonstrates that people who adopt a growth mindset react to negative feedback by concentrating on constructive elements that will help them improve. When people with a fixed mindset receive negative feedback, by contrast, they collapse. They don’t see any criticism as constructive. Instead, they see it as proof of their failure. This reaction leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. When someone feels crushed by a mistake, he cannot concentrate on doing what is necessary to improve.
Insights to Improve Management
In a follow up blog post, we’ll discuss critical takeaways from the research and explore practical tips for leaders. Our team is also here to provide Executive Coaching services to help you reach your goals. Get in touch today for a strategic consultation!