Blog Header.jpg




reflections of the team

How Growth Mindset Impacts the Workplace

Chris Barbalis - Do you see what is there or do you see what it can be?

Chris Barbalis - Do you see what is there or do you see what it can be?

"I'm too dumb for this", she said. I was flabbergasted. How could a person be too dumb? Surely, she just didn't want to try, or never thought she would be lucky enough to guess it.

We were fourteen at the time, practicing my Latin vocabulary though she wasn’t in my class. I had her guessing the meaning of words such as porta (door) or ego (me).

When I began researching Growth Mindset for this blog, it dawned on me. She had a Fixed Mindset.

Fixed and Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset is when you believe your talent is a fixed aspect of what makes you 'you'. It doesn't grow with practice, it's not a muscle that needs training. You were born with a certain amount and that's what you'll have to deal with.

Growth Mindset, on the other hand, does believe in practice. Yes, talent does differ from person to person, but commitment and training are much more important than any pre-existing condition.

Dweck's Study

We owe this insight to prof. dr. Carol Dweck. She followed 317 students passing from elementary to middle school. Fixed mindset students who scored high on mathematics, had a hard time adjusting to their new environment and gradually performed worse than their growth mindset peers.


Growth Mindset in the Workplace?

A corporate culture can also be described in growth or fixed mindset terms. It impacts an amalgam of HR services such as recruitment, leadership, compensation, performance evaluation, change management and so on.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What happens if leaders have a fixed mindset?
  • What type of mindset encourages workplace flexibility and mobility?
  • How do you react to changes, obstacles, challenges, depending on the mindset you have?
  • How does it affect corporate culture? Think about: taking responsibility, adapting to change, seeing challenges as learning opportunities, helping colleagues, blaming others when things don't work out, owning up to failure, sharing knowledge, …
  • Does this impact recruitment?
  • How is performance measured and appraised? Is it solely measured by results, or also on process and teamwork?  Reward growth or outcome?


  • During training, set goals together. This way, you can estimate who leans more to a fixed mindset. Fixed mindset people generally set a performance goal, where growth mindset people focus more on process and progress.
  • Reward growth as much as possible.
  • Refrain from referring to fixed states, such as 'You are good at this', or 'You must have a knack for this.'
  • Make feedback very specific and behaviour-based: "I liked when you changed your tactics, it shows that the succeeding is in the trying".
  • Failure is not being punished but used as something positive from which everyone can learn and grow.

These suggestions are not only applicable to group or individual training. You can also apply them to e-learning feedback, leadership style, et cetera.

How do you apply this in your work environment? Let us know in the comments below!