By Anja van den Berg
People don’t like disorder. Yet, research has proven that disruptive, stressful experiences are often growth opportunities. While the Covid-19 crisis brought with it a variety of new challenges, it also creates new opportunities for leaders to cultivate a growth mindset.
This growth mindset can serve us – and our teams – well during a crisis, says Susan Ashford, professor of management.
“As teams are forced to take on new challenges, face new uncertainties, and recover from mistakes in the Covid-19 era, they begin to internalise that both their own abilities and those of their peers are not fixed, but can be developed,” Ashford explains.
Here’s how managers can nurture a growth mindset in themselves and their teams during the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Resetting expectations and revisiting established practices
The Covid-19 crisis is offering some blessings in disguise. One of these is reviewing established practices and improving those that don’t work. For instance, the shift to remote work provides a perfect justification to reset your team’s expectations around giving and receiving constructive feedback. Additionally, working online is significantly less forgiving of coordination and leadership failures, so it’s an excellent opportunity for involving others in implementing immediate course corrections. This might include starting meetings by communicating what you know and inviting teammates to share their knowledge, concerns and questions. A leader that exhibits transparency and candour sets the tone for the same kind of behaviour from the rest of the group.
- Experiencing your colleagues in a whole new light
Working remotely, we’re getting to know our coworkers in a completely different way. We have access to their homes, their children, their pets. Seeing your teammates as spouses and parents may evoke feelings of empathy and camaraderie you’ve never experienced before. The other side of the coin is that people are getting more comfortable to share elements of their personal lives. Studies suggest that being less worried about social evaluation and embarrassment stimulates experimentation and creativity, both of which are key to growth. Additionally, other research shows that personal identity expression at work can also boost employee creativity.
- Involving the entire team
Leaders can change their role from instructors to facilitators by replacing the know-it-all culture with a learn-it-all culture. Share monthly videos where you review your top learnings and prompt groups across the company to discuss theirs. Or dedicate part of a regular team meeting to discuss team members’ proposals and ideas. For example, in a recent study, leaders asked their team members, “What have you done since we last talked, and what have you learned from it?” every two weeks. Fairly quickly, because they knew he would be asking, they started to pay more attention to their growth and were stunned by how much they were learning. In this light, it’s a good idea to informally reward progress made, lessons learned, and recovery from mistakes as much as you would have done for traditional top performers.
While the Covid-19 crisis creates an array of new challenges, it also presents new opportunities for leaders to cultivate an expansive growth mindset in their business divisions. A growth mindset can help teams to better coordinate, innovate, and own their futures, making it possible not only to weather the crisis but to come out of it stronger.
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/08/5-ways-a-crisis-can-help-you-cultivate-a-growth-mindset
The Journal of Applied Behavioural Science: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0021886307313824?casa_token=Kjb5rBZ2DmIAAAAA%3APSb3xapioNnQbx6usoc8SSH_pjJ1D1JSZNAxefeQzryQdxBoO0wv1OxpqTm0y8HV3QDgN5CLBec_&journalCode=jaba
Boston University School of Business: https://questromfeld.bu.edu/blog/2020/08/21/6-ways-a-crisis-can-help-you-cultivate-a-growth-mindset-harvard-business-review/