Real HR leaders foster growth mindsets… here’s how

How is success measured in your business? Is it assessed in terms of the results achieved? Or is the effort exerted also important? In businesses that cultivate growth mindsets, learning from mistakes and focusing on results is a measure of success. As an HR or L&D practitioner, there are many concrete steps you can take to promote growth mindsets in your organisation. Here are four to get you started.

Shift management assumptions

Examine any assumptions that managers have made about their teams. Do some managers assume that their team members cannot take on new responsibilities? Do they talk about ‘stars’ and ‘problem people’? Or do they act on the assumption that people can learn and grow continuously? Help managers shift their thinking by encouraging them to focus on employee strengths and abilities, rather than weaknesses and ‘capability gaps.’

Provide useful tools

Build a workplace environment that is conducive to collaboration and innovation. Equip your employees with the right tools – training, one-on-one coaching and access to relevant literature on positive psychology. Demonstrate that you’re committed to the growth of every employee by investing in development and advancement opportunities.

Teach your people about neuroplasticity

When people understand neuroplasticity, they think differently about themselves. They understand the growth mindset and they learn to embrace challenges. It becomes clear to them that they can learn anything they want. This is why including content on neuroplasticity in all your leadership and management development program is a smart move. Similar content can be included in programs for change resilience, problem solving and collaborative communication.

Recruit for mindset

Use the application and interview process as an opportunity to find ‘the right fit.’ Pose questions about how candidates face challenges. Ask referees about candidates’ thinking skills, attitudes and problem-solving approaches. Remember that skills can be learned, but only when employees believe they can learn. This is why screening for growth mindsets is often more strategic than testing for technical skills during recruitment.

Help managers develop their people

Great managers keep a close eye on employee development. Make this easy for team leaders and managers in your business. Train them in skills such as coaching, active constructive leadership, delivering feedback and building positive team dynamics. Stress the importance of talking to staff during annual reviews – not just filling in forms and complying with ‘HR process.’

Employees who enjoy learning and constantly look for ways to acquire new knowledge always outperform those who do not. Their growth mindsets enable them to make meaningful contributions towards your organisation’s growth. So make sure you recruit individuals who are open to learning and have a natural preference for being in growth-mindset mode.

About the author of this article

Eleanor Shakiba is passionate about helping talented professionals to break through barriers to success. She coaches and trains high performers who want to excel in business. Her core expertise is in the area of positive psychology – she can show YOU how to use positive psychology to become the best you possible. Find out how Eleanor can help you or your team here.

Real leaders foster growth mindsets…here’s how

How is success measured in your team? Is it assessed in terms of the results achieved? Or is the effort exerted also important? In teams with growth mindsets, learning from mistakes and focusing on results is a measure of success. Here’s how to foster growth mindsets in YOUR team.

Reassess your assumptions about the people you lead

Are your employees’ individual talents and skill sets being properly utilised? Which of their talents can be further developed by advanced training? When you look at your team as individuals with unique talents and skills, magic happens. Productivity skyrockets because people are doing what they’re good at. Morale soars because individulals’ talents are being recognised.

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Your beliefs can hurt or help…it’s your choice

Have you ever wondered why some people just reach milestone after milestone in their careers – and others seem to be perpetually stuck? That’s how powerful the mind is. With the wrong mindset, you can’t learn, grow or develop new skills. But with the right mindset, the sky is the limit!

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor, says there are two main ways people think about their abilities: through a ‘fixed’ mindset and a ‘growth’ mindset.

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From stress to success in four easy steps

In today’s high-velocity workplace environment, HR practitioners need robust tools for enabling employees to build resilience and reduce stress. You can find those tools in the suite of techniques developed by positive psychology researchers. The point about these tools is they are backed by science: they’re founded in real psychology, not pop psychology. In a previous article Stay positive in tough times, I explained four evidence-based interventions that support the development of resilient thinking:

  • Actively building hope that the future can be (even) better than the present
  • Connecting to a sense of higher purpose
  • Looking after the self
  • Using learned optimism techniques to foster solution-focused thinking

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From stress to success in four easy steps

In today’s high-velocity workplace environment, you need robust tools for managing stress. That’s what researchers from positive psychology bring you. In a previous article Stay positive in tough times, I explained four ways to stay resilient when experiencing setbacks.

  • Always have hope
  • Connect to your sense of higher purpose
  • Look after yourself
  • Operate from a belief that solutions can be found

Here’s an example of how resilient thinking can help you thrive during change at work. Imagine an organisational restructure has just been announced. People are starting to gossip and word is out that your department is going to be shut down. Instead of joining in, here’s how you could handle the situation with resilience and optimism.

Build hope by putting things in perspective

Martin Seligman is an expert in the area of learned optimism. He points out that pessimistic thinkers frame negative experiences as both permanent (in other words, ongoing) and pervasive (impacting all areas of your life). Optimists, on the other hand, see challenging events such as redundancy, as short-term and limited to impacting on one or two aspects of your life. Use rational thinking tools to create a hopeful vision of the future and an action plan for how you will turn that vision into reality. If you find this difficult, find a coach or mentor to support you. Contact Eleanor Shakiba if you would like details on how coaching works.

Actively shape your own future

Being in limbo is an unsettling experience. Waiting passively for something to happen, or decisions to be made, erodes your confidence and saps your energy. People thrive on taking action and working towards meaningful goals. So don’t sit still – take matters into your own hands by defining your goals for the next stage of your career.

Build your physical strength as well as your psychological strength

It’s easy to slip into bad self-care habits during times of change. For example, if members of your team have recently been made redundant, your workload might increase overnight. Working longer hours to compensate might seem like a sensible solution. However, it’s likely that longer work hours will lead to reduced exercise levels, disrupted sleep patterns and way too many takeaway meals.

Always put your physical health first in times of challenge and adversity. Remember that when the going gets tough, the tough get going… to the gym. Or to a dance class. Or to the yoga studio.

Ask yourself solution-focused questions

If you find yourself worrying or feeling powerless, use solution-focused questions to blast through negative thinking. For example, ask yourself:

  • Which parts of the situation do I have the power to change?
  • What benefits might this change bring me?
  • What are five positive things I can do right now?
  • What resources can I draw on?

Famed jazz trumpeter Miles Davis once said, “When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.” Keep this in mind the next time you face problems at work.

About the author of this article

Eleanor Shakiba is has dedicated her career to helping talented professionals develop their confidence, communication skills and leadership savvy. She is a positive psychology trainer and success coach. Find out how Eleanor can help you or your team here.

Stay positive in tough times

How would respond if you made a huge mistake at work? What if you suddenly lost your job? What would your next steps be? Are you resilient enough not to break from the stress?

Resilience is not just a word touted in workplace well-being programs – it’s a fundamental approach to life. It’s the ability to bounce back from adversity and to experience setbacks without letting them negatively impact your optimism for the future.

Resilient thinkers have a core set of beliefs and practices in common. How can you can adopt these beliefs and practices? Here are some tips to get you started.

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Take charge of your life with 4 easy steps

Do you sometimes feel like you’re not in control of your own life? Do most situations leave you feeling lost or helpless? If that’s the case, you need is an internal locus of control.

Locus of control is where you believe the control in your life comes from. When you have an external locus of control, you see people or factors outside of yourself as ‘controlling’ your life. Conversely, having an internal locus of control means that you believe you have some control over the events in your life. You know you can’t influence everything, but you believe you can manage your own actions and thinking processes.


So how can you operate from an internal locus of control? Here are four tips I give students in my Positive Psychology training courses:

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Control emotions so they don’t control you

Have you ever said something in anger that you later wish you could take back? When you act on your emotions too quickly, you often make decisions that you later regret.

Your emotions are connected to key drives in your psych. They can seem to creep up without warning and completely take over. Emotion regulation allows you to recognise and manage your feelings so they don’t drive your behaviour.  

Emotional Intelligence expert Daniel Goleman has shown that emotion regulation is one of four key skills that contribute to professional success. Like any other skill, emotion regulation takes time and practice.

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Improve your relationships with ONE skill

When a relationship has soured, how do you turn it around? The answer is to give positive attention to the other person.  

Humans need positive attention in the same way we need air. Like oxygen, positive attention is essential to both our physical and mental well-being. The key to positivity in any relationship is active constructive communication. To be active constructive, you need to show genuine interest. For example, you might ask for more information or say, “Wow, that sounds like a surprise…” 

To respond in active constructive mode, react to others’ bids for attention in positive ways. You also need to bid for their attention – but in ways that build the relationship. There are four simple ways to do this.  

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