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When it comes to change, one of the hardest things to contend with is how to get the wider organisation comfortable and accepting it.

And mindset often lies at the cause.

I can frequently be found talking discussing how achieving successful change outcomes isn’t about changing what someone does, but how someone thinks and behaves.  And that’s because you can tell people until you’re blue in the face that the organisation is changing, that you’re implementing new systems, processes, values or culture.  That you’re moving floors or offices, restructuring or downsizing.

You can send all the emails in the world, you can make them attend training sessions.

But unless you spend time helping them change how they think and behave, none of it will matter.

Because you have to be in the right frame of mind to accept change and you have to believe in it.  And, given the amount of change organisations are delivering, we need our people to always be in this state of mind.  

Having an organisation with a growth mindset is conducive to delivering continuous successful change.

Carol Dweck coined the terms fixed and growth mindset after becoming interested in her students attitudes about failure.  She and her colleagues noticed that some students bounced back quickly, but others were distraught by the smallest of setbacks. Through research, we learnt that people with a fixed mindset don’t believe that they have a capacity to change, learn or grow.  They believe they are at their limit; and for example, if you’re rolling out Office365 and they don’t believe they have good computer skills, they are unlikely to learn how to use it.  Yet those that have a growth mindset are the opposite.  They do believe that they have room to learn and grow, and these are the employees that are more likely to accept change and do their best to support the organisation through periods of intense transformation.

What I find particularly exciting is that we now also know our brains are even more malleable that we ever thought. Research on brain plasticity shows connectivity between neurons can change with experience and with practice, our neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build insulation that increases the speed of transmissions.   In essence we can think of it as a muscle, the more we train our brain the better it becomes.

In an ideal ‘change world’ you would be implementing change to an organisation full of employees with a growth mindset.  But reality doesn’t always reflect what is ideal.  I think it is safe to say that most organisations have employees with both fixed and growth mindsets but what’s important right now is that we start supporting our people in developing a growth mindset.

We have found three ways to help you start shifting an employee’s mindset from fixed to growth but that also supports you in delivering successful change:

1. Build a culture of positive failure.

It’s ok to fail – as long as you fix it and learn from it.  It’s about replacing the word ‘failing’ with ‘learning’.  And this needs to start with your leadership teams but also within your project teams.  There is no blame only positive motivation to succeed – even when they fail learn.

2. Involve everyone in what is changing.

When everyone is involved in the process, they each have a greater sense of purpose and are more likely to want that to succeed.  So whether they are a stakeholder, a member of the project team or an end user, get them involved.

3. Celebrate.

It is very easy to keep moving forward without recognising how far you’ve come, however I urge you to stop and celebrate your teams effort, progress, and behaviours and not just outcomes and reaching goals.  When actions are rewarded and celebrated, you’re reinforcing the belief that you can improve and we find our people are more likely to keep trying.

When you are managing or coping with change, a growth mindset allows you to embrace it as a learning opportunity.  If you can foster a growth mindset across your organisation, then it is more likely to adapt and grow with agility.

If you are interested in how you can help your organisation deliver change more successfully and build a growth mindset at the same time email me and let’s start the conversation.