Oregon second-grade teacher, Shayna Hicks, understands the value in offering students opportunities for continual growth, and it is evident in every square inch of her classroom. From nontraditional seating on wobble stools and bouncy exercise balls to the number one class rule, “We can never say the word can’t,” Hicks and her students are committed to constant improvement. This unconventional classroom setting lends itself perfectly to the Hour of Code, where students are encouraged to learn coding through fun games.
Recognizing a chance for young children to learn coding earlier than is the norm in U.S. schools, HP volunteers visited Hicks and her students where they assisted Minecraft-related coding endeavors. Holding true to a growth mindset, students were overheard encouraging themselves with chants of, “Don’t give up…keep on trying.”
Grade-school students aren’t the only ones who understand the power of “yet.” The direct correlation between believing we can achieve and actually achieving is the driving factor behind successes in many arenas, both professional and personal. HP’s foundational belief, “skills and intelligence can be developed; that with learning, effort, exploration, and practice, people can always keep growing,” is a fantastic example of a growth mindset. Because our world will see more technological disruption in the next 20 years than we’ve seen in the last 500, we must adopt HP’s methods if we hope to succeed in tomorrow’s world.
Recent advances in neuroscience have shown us the brain’s potential is even greater than we originally believed. Research proves the malleability of the brain and reports, “With practice, neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build insulation that speeds transmission of impulses. These neuroscientific discoveries have shown us that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practicing, and following good nutrition and sleep habits.” HP capitalized on this research, and emphasized the value in adaptability and innovation, by moving away from traditional end-of-the-year employee ratings to a system that lauds performance via open professional dialogue. No one at HP—or in Mrs. Hicks’s class—is expected to know it all; today, it’s more about learning it all.
When HP reinvented itself in 2015, the company started with a vision to create technologies that make life better for us all. Their vision developed into a focus on three major pillars: Core, Growth and Future. These pillars continue to evolve and change along with the market’s needs, keeping a foundation of strength at the center of their vision. Author and TED Talk presenter, Carol Dweck, agrees with HP’s approach to cultivating a growth mindset, because she believes it drives innovation, employee engagement, and overall satisfaction in the workplace. To make these things happen, companies must make a shift as to encourage and support continuous learning, meaningful conversations, guiding practices, and embracing change.
The foundation of a growth mindset is the willingness to be a lifelong learner. With the evolution of online learning, anyone can further or enhance his or her education. For example, HP launched its own virtual learning platform, Brain Candy, to make continuous learning as easy and as accessible as possible. Not only can employees use the tool anywhere, on any device, but they can add to it, contributing to the growing resources. With learning, effort, exploration, and practice, people can always keep growing, and when the information is literally at your fingertips, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of an opportunity to better yourself.
HP has changed its annual performance review format to include these meaningful conversations. Not only does the company gauge performance in this way, but it acknowledges the value of focusing on an employee’s progress instead of perfection. Rather than assign a numerical or other subjective ranking, a growth mindsight environment reroutes the focus and conversation from scores to contributions.
Companies set the tone by guiding employees’ practices with cornerstones of their respective business, such as respect, integrity, and collaboration. To reinforce a growth mindset, companies must encourage employees to anticipate and adapt to change, take informed risks, and believe that teamwork makes the dream work!
A true growth mindset’s foundation is the ability and willingness to adapt and change when necessary. Change must come from or be supported by the top to make it work, but in order for it to be truly successful, all stakeholders must be a part of it. It’s inherent that people want to succeed and improve; companies must capitalize on human nature and allow all employees the opportunity to help shape and mold the company’s initiatives.
It’s difficult for people to change their mindsets, let alone for entire companies to alter their approach to business. A fixed mindset is one that doesn’t allow for growth, and places unnecessary, lasting labels on employees. Fostering an environment that provides opportunities for continual learning is one that allows and support improvement. A growth mindset acknowledges our ability to change and understands that with practice, we can all be better.
This article was first published on LinkedIn.