It's Not Just for Employees: Why HR Needs a Growth Mindset, Too
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
Over the past few months, as the job market has evolved and we’ve adapted to new ways of working, the importance of a growth mindset—the belief that one’s talents can be consistently developed and expanded—has come into even clearer focus. While this mindset is critical during periods of fluctuation, it will remain a major strategic advantage once things get back to normal. But in order to cultivate it in your workforce, HR has to lead the way.
This isn’t always easy. HR may not be allocated the budget it needs to drive large-scale transformations, which can make it difficult to continuously adapt and evolve with the times. But even small steps can add up to massive improvements.
Here are a few things you can do right now to foster a growth mindset within your HR function—and show the rest of your company how it’s done.
Acknowledge that HR needs to evolve
The first step toward making progress is acknowledging that there’s a gap between where you are now and where you want to be. But this has to be something that your whole team is on board with. Change can be intimidating, so unless everyone is on the same page about what’s holding you back and what direction you should be moving in, old habits will persist.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to push your team and help them get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Talk to them about what a growth mindset is and why you need one, giving concrete examples of what this might look like in practice in the HR function.
Say your HR team sends out a quarterly survey to gauge employee sentiment. One quarter, multiple employees mention that the process for requesting paid time off is unnecessarily complicated. A person with a fixed mindset might see that feedback and think, “that’s just how every company does it.” Someone with a growth mindset, on the other hand, might look at that feedback and think, “what can I do to fix that?”
Providing examples like this encourages your team to step outside of their comfort zone—putting you in a better position to navigate future challenges and changes.
Remove the word “failure” from your vocabulary
An essential element of a growth mindset is being willing to try and fail. But the idea of failure can be frightening to people. And if they think they’ll be accused of and criticized for failing, they’ll be hesitant to try new things at all.
Rather than focusing on the idea of failure, talk openly about what you learned from each experience and what you would do differently next time—and encourage your team to do the same. For example, if some people reverted back to using paper after your department digitized all its documents, this could indicate the need for additional training during your next project to ensure everyone understands the new processes. That’s useful knowledge that will help you make each project stronger moving forward.
By framing every problem in a positive light, your team will feel confident taking calculated risks, rather than clinging to what’s safe and familiar.
Remind your team to flex their growth mindset
Once your team is practicing this approach, it’s crucial to reinforce the mindset and corresponding behavior that you want to see.
If someone is resistant to feedback or hesitant to try things a new way, gently remind them what a growth mindset looks like—and encourage the team to do this for one another as well. Microsoft even takes this a step further, hanging posters outlining the difference between growth and fixed mindsets in meeting rooms as a visual reminder to employees.
Remember to acknowledge and support productive behavior, too. By highlighting examples of how your team’s growth mindset has positively impacted employees, your function, and the organization as a whole, you can help your team fully grasp the benefits of embracing this mindset—and make it stick.
Learn more about how your HR function can evolve to meet the challenges of a digital workplace. Our guide to digital document management explains how to get everyone on board for change and maintain a paper-free department.
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About Laura Zifchak (Poggi)
Laura leads the marketing team for the PeopleDoc by Ultimate Software products in North America. She joined PeopleDoc in January 2015 to help HR teams learn about HR Service Delivery technology, understand how it benefits their existing business strategies, and become expert users of our platform as customers.
Laura has experience with bringing technical software solutions to market with prior leadership positions at both IBM and RTTS. She has an MBA from CUNY Baruch Zicklin School of Business, and a BS degree in Marketing from Siena College.
With years of practice managing teams through rapid growth and constant change, Laura is passionate about employee and manager experience, and using technology to help scale and improve operations.