5 steps for the right, agile mindset in a team (mindset: part 2/3)

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Ever heard of "learned helplessness" (Seligman & Maier, 1967)? That is loud Wikipedia “The conviction developed due to negative experience that you have lost the ability to change your own life situation and to be responsible for this state yourself”. You can't call that an agile mindset.

No, we don't want that. And yet we contribute partly to an equivalent state - the fixed mindset. But how can we promote an agile mindset in a team?

You were able to see how this actually happens at company level read in the last article. At the team level, too, you should unlearn the fixed mindset and promote an agile mindset if you want to become a learning organization. This is what today's article deals with.

The content is based on a study by Heslin, Latham and Vandewalle (2005), The researchers trained managers in the growth mindset. The result was 5 steps that led to a significant improvement in the mindset compared to a placebo control group.

1. Underline the brain's growth potential

Tell your staff the following: Neuroscientific research shows that when we focus on something and learn new things, new connections develop in our brain. The brain is a muscle that & #8211; as recent research underlines until old age - is trainable.

This message could be well accompanied by anecdotes about how people in the team environment including you have developed substantially (possibly even at an advanced age).

Of course, you can also include external stories here that show how years of ongoing training led to strong performance (some examples can be found in these sources: Gladwell, 2002; Colvin, 2008; Dweck, 2006).

2. Promote counter-intuitive reflection

Step 2 for the agile mindset: Let employees find an area (e.g. complex new software, play golf, learn a second language) that they originally had difficulties with, but now perform relatively well with little effort.

They should reflect on this and explain in detail the steps they have taken on their development path (e.g. setting goals, taking risks, working hard, being coached, seeking feedback, getting inspiration online ...).

Then let them consider why similar approaches should not work equally well for challenges where they have a fixed mindset.

3. Promote counterintuitive advice for an agile mindset

Let employees identify someone who is important to them and who has difficulty believing that their skills can be developed further (e.g. a parent, partner, child).

Have them write a message explaining in their own words what reasons and evidence there are for further development.

Of course, this can also explicitly include your own personal experiences, which may have come out in step 2.

4. Induce cognitive dissonances

Employees should remember a situation when they had an extraordinary learning achievement from someone they never expected.

Then they should consider how their own attitude towards this person affected this learning achievement. Getting people to reflect on the potentially huge cost of the fixed mindset (also in the sense that it prevents others and themselves from developing their full potential) can be another way of promoting the growth mindset .

5. Role playing

First of all, for the anti-role players: The following procedure can of course also be modified.

In the first step, you let employees call up a situation when they reacted with the fixed mindset and it did them no good. Now let everyone write them down for themselves what was going on in their head at the moment and how that prevented them from doing their best in the situation.

In the next step, they should go forward and play themselves briefly: First, sit down on one chair and speak from the voice of the fixed mindset, then speak the agile mindset on the opposite chair.

Afterwards, reflection in the plenum or peer coaching can help to develop support mechanisms and thus strengthen them in the entire team.

Performing these five steps in your team is a good start to promote growth or agile mindset. For a concrete implementation using our tool, you are welcome to do it once here drop by.

At the same time, you should also give everyone individual tips on how to acquire the growth mindset. It helps you the last article in the series.

Agile Mindset Sources

Colvin, G. (2008). Talent is overrated: What really separate world-class performers from everybody else. New York, NY: Penguin.

Dweck, CS (2006). Mindsets. New York: Random House.

Gladwell, M. (2002, July 22). The talent myth: Are smart people overrated? The New Yorker.

Heslin, PA, Latham, GP, & VandeWalle, D. (2005). The effect of implicit person theory on performance appraisals. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 842-856.

Seligman, ME, & Maier, SF (1967). Failure to escape traumatic shock. Journal of experimental psychology, 74 (1), 1.

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Christian Heidemeyer, Psychologist & Scrum Master