At this year’s HRD Summit, Microsoft’s Director of Talent Management, Rebecca Winter, discussed how the organisation is embedding growth mindset into their people processes.
They’re now focusing on values, attitudes and motivation, just as much as skills and competencies, as core criteria for selection.
The rationale is straightforward; in this new world of work where business models need to be regularly disrupted in order to stay relevant, the skills that are needed now might not be as relevant in a year’s time. Focus instead on people who can be thrown into ‘just-in-time’ and ‘on-demand’ learning, and then deploy that learning quickly.
Of course, to do that you need people with the right mindset.
Mindset isn’t just mindset; Potential isn’t just potential
There is a link between mindset and potential. They both relate to realising an individual's future capabilities that currently are not evident. Potential itself is undergoing its own disruption. We all have potential but potential for different things, and that potential is based on our individual preferences. Josh Bersin, in one of his prophetic reports on the changing world of work, quotes a senior HR manager whose company – like an increasing number of others – is questioning the idea of a one-size-fits-all idea of potential: “the old-fashioned idea that everyone has some measurable amount of ‘potential’ is really silly. We all have potential to do more and new things, but we have to personalise the process”. This comment should ring true with every HR professional.
Meanwhile, in her seminal book on mindset in educational achievement, Stanford University’s Carol Dweck parses individuals into ‘fixed mindset’ (belief in one’s innate abilities, talent and qualities) and ‘growth mindset’ (belief that those same attributes can be developed through work, dedication and learning from failure); critically, however, she observes that an individual is composed of both: growth mindset for some activities, fixed mindset for others.
If mindset is selective and potential is personal, shouldn’t we be looking at types of mindset in order to better channel company talent?
Mindset in transformation, disruption and change
You’d be hard-pressed to find a sector in which organisations aren’t undergoing or planning to undergo significant change.
Typically, they are responding to the need to be more agile by changing their models and structures, and the need to digitally disrupt in order to keep up with their young upstart digitally-native competitors.
Not only is the work environment changing, but so is the makeup of its people. With shifts in people and structure as organisations transform and change, understanding the talented individual’s preferences for ways of working and work environment is key to success. These preferences not only underscore work culture but underpin types of mindset because mindset is, if anything, related to attitudes, inclination and preferences that influence a person’s workplace interpretations, responses and reactions.
The Core Mindset Clusters for Change, Transformation and Success
Last year, Morgan Philips Group partnered with industry experts in business transformation who formed an Industry Research panel. Combining their knowledge and expertise with employee data and a validated model of leadership potential has led to a new approach to measuring mindset in the workplace.
By bringing together an individual’s work style preference and preferred work environment using two well-validated psychometric measures, a new diagnostic tool, PULSE MINDSET™, has been developed. The report delivers insight into an individual’s mindset on five core clusters needed for effective transformation. These clusters relate directly to the challenges and changes that organisations are facing, from structure and process to people expectations and interactions.
Of course, the question on any HR professional’s lips should be: ‘So what?’
Well firstly, it supports a more evidence-based approach to selection and development of talent for an unknown work environment in the not-too-distant future. It’s not rocket science to appreciate that understanding how an individual prefers to work and then allowing them to exercise that preference is likely to lead to greater effort, commitment, engagement and effectiveness.
Second, at a more global level, companies are keen to understand how these mindset clusters can help in putting together complementary leadership teams who will be charged with realising change. They also want to understand the company mindset so that they are better equipped for the changes ahead. Identifying where these mindsets are weak across the company allows them to target likely barriers to change, thereby knowing where and how to intervene before resistance and barriers arise. Similarly, knowing where these mindsets are strong offers a way to target champions of change processes.
Growth mindset is going to be – or already is – important in this new world of work that everyone is talking about. For HR professionals, understanding which growth mindset their people and talent have will be critical to implementing strategic change as painlessly as possible.