A Growth Mindset: Your Organization’s Strategic Differentiator


By John Muscarella, Senior Director, Cox Business

The mindset of your leaders, managers, and employees has a profound impact on workplace culture, productivity, and collaboration.

A survey of employees at a variety of Fortune 1000 companies found that employees at growth mindset organizations are:

  • 47 percent more likely to say that their colleagues are trustworthy
  • 34 percent more likely to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company
  • 65 percent more likely to say that the company supports risk-taking
  • 49 percent more likely to say that the company fosters innovation

Consider your organization. Do your teams shy away from failure, or is strategic risk-taking encouraged? Do you hire based on natural talent alone, or are you open to new hires who demonstrate a desire to learn and grow? Are your quarterly evaluations based on rankings and numbers, or do you evaluate holistically to include personal growth and effort?

Renowned researcher and professor at Stanford University Carol Dweck discovered two distinct types of mindsets: growth and fixed Individuals with a growth mindset believe that people can continually develop new skills and behaviors; individuals with a fixed mindset believe that they are born with specific skills and talents that are unlikely to change.

Growth mindset organizations cultivate a high-development culture where employees are empowered to embrace challenges and pursue new knowledge and skills. These organizations are more resilient and adaptable through change and have greater engagement, loyalty, and productivity. Fixed mindset organizations are those that emphasize results and output. These organizations are likely to peak early and plateau quickly.

Are you ready to drive a culture of growth and transformation? Here are three actionable steps to foster a growth mindset across your organization.

Rethink Feedback

Research shows that organizations with leaders and managers who deliver constructive, growth-oriented feedback experience 14.9 percent lower turnover rates, 12.5 percent greater productivity, and 8.9 percent greater profitability. Yet, a recent study found that only 50 percent of managers feel confident in their ability to deliver constructive feedback that is well received by their employees. What can you do to bridge this gap and create a culture of growth-oriented feedback?

First, it’s important to evaluate the language your teams associate with feedback. Encourage your leaders and managers to replace negatively associated words with growth-oriented words. For example, use “area of growth” in place of “weakness.” This shift stimulates the “toward state” mindset, where feedback is seen as an opportunity for growth and less threatening.

Next, feedback needs to happen consistently in your workplace. Empower your employees to ask one another (not just their manager) for feedback throughout projects. When you encourage multiple feedback channels, your employees have a greater sense of ownership and become more comfortable seeking feedback on a regular cadence.

Finally, when an employee exceeds his or her quota, a natural tendency of fixed mindset organizations is to praise the result and then move on, expecting the employee to perform in the same way quarter after quarter. As your organization shifts toward a growth mindset, remember to commend the journey and not just the result. Managers should deliver feedback that evaluates the strategies and behaviors behind the output. This helps employees recognize their strengths and areas of development and cultivates confidence as they take on greater challenges and higher quotas.

Encourage Risk-Taking

Did you know that playing it safe in business is not always the safest thing? The most innovative and growth-oriented organizations, including Microsoft, Google, and Cox Communications, are here today because of strategic risk-taking.

How do you encourage growth-oriented risk-taking? The first step is to eliminate the fear of inadequacy and failure. Create a safe space for your employees to brainstorm, challenge, and implement new ideas. Whether an idea succeeds or fails, it’s important your leaders and employees view every situation as a learning opportunity and spend time recognizing what worked and what didn’t.

Invest in Employee Development

Organizations are facing an unprecedented talent shortage. A recent study by Korn Ferry revealed that by 2030, more than 85 million jobs could remain unfilled due to a talent and skill shortage. With a war on talent that’s here to stay, it’s time to shift your focus toward your greatest asset, your people. Leaders at growth mindset organizations recognize the potential in their current people and actively invest in expanding their capacity through upskilling and reskilling programs. Investing in the upskilling and reskilling of your people increases employee retention, attracts new talent, and cultivates a growth mindset at the individual level that boosts engagement and job satisfaction.

As the business world rapidly evolves and becomes increasingly competitive, taking steps to cultivate a growth mindset where feedback, risk-taking, and development are encouraged is a strategic differentiator that sets your employees up for long-term success and profitability.

As a Senior Director at Cox Business, John is responsible for the overall readiness strategy for the indirect business sales channels. His team has the primary responsibility to develop, implement ­and sell solutions utilizing the Cox Communications network throughout the country. John has more than 25 years of experience in business management, which includes sales and leadership positions with companies such as Polycom, Sprint and EDS.