June 27, 2023
An individual’s mindset influences everything that they do. Built around a set of established values, beliefs, and attitudes, your mindset frames your outlook and guides your behaviour, demarking your perceived limitations. It’s something that influences every area of our lives, from the relationships we form to the way we approach challenges and change. When you’re working with people, implementing policies, and trying to get the best from your available talent, it’s vital that you understand what motivates your team members – and what’s holding them back. Understanding mindset, its power, and how to change it, can be transformative on both an individual and team level.
One of the most common misunderstandings about mindset is that it’s always a personal matter. Much like mental health, businesses have been aware that mindset can impact the way a person approaches work – their focus, their stress, their work ethic – but it has always been relegated as a ‘personal issue’, something that a business manager has little right to look into. There may be comments in career progression reviews relating to attitude, negativity, or a lack of confidence (or occasionally over-confidence, which can be equally limiting in different ways), but no steps are taken to address these issues, despite the fact that it could be supremely beneficial to the business if they were.
The difficulty is that while mindset is a uniquely personal matter, employee mindset can impact a business in various ways. Influencing productivity, sick leave, morale, resilience, and even employee churn. So, understanding mindset and providing support to promote mindset change – either individually or collectively – can deliver multiple company benefits.
The different types
There are various different types of prescribed category, from growth to fear. And while there is a tendency to shoehorn individuals into a designated grouping and decide that’s what we need for our business, most of us hold elements of various mindsets within us, and it’s possible for those mindsets to change. A person can be both confident and creative but still hold elements of fear. In contrast, a once productive mindset can slide into laziness and apathy if the individual’s work is uninspiring, or their workplace boring.
We are all unique. So, while of course, it is possible for a person’s mindset to be categorised, to truly understand them, and to find ways to help them become their best, we have to acknowledge that every mindset is slightly different. This is a really important lesson in business, where a mindset change can completely alter a person’s outlook, career trajectory, and value to a company.
What influences mindset?
Our mindsets are influenced by a diverse range of factors. It’s not just our experiences influencing how we react to certain situations. Our surroundings can influence how we feel – a cluttered space can induce anxiety, and dark and featureless spaces are outstandingly uninspiring. The people we surround ourselves with can lift us up or drag us down. Time constraints and stress are massive influencers. And even transitory experiences – such as arguments with colleagues, friends, or spouses – can impact our mindsets. While the latter’s impact is usually temporary, negative influences can linger, particularly if certain tasks or projects become subconsciously associated with that experience.
So, the formation of mindset is deeply personal but it can be hugely influenced by our working environment. And it can be changed by the people we work with and business we work for. And the business effect of a company-wide mindset change can be staggering.
Managing mindset at work
Mindset management revolves around the concept of helping people to identify their own mental barriers and supporting them to overcome them. It can work on an individual or group level and it can take a variety of forms, including mindfulness, employee engagement programmes, and coaching. In many instances, small, cost-free changes can help, such as encouraging greater communication throughout all sectors of a business or addressing any issues with company culture. Perhaps more than anything else, simply being aware of mindset and what it can mean for your business and employees, and sharing that awareness, can start to initiate positive change.
The workplace impact
Employee and team mindset change can bring a full range of benefits to a business. By supporting stress reduction and enhancing job satisfaction and happiness, it can improve employee resilience, enhance productivity, and reduce staff turnover. For individuals, it can remove the barriers that may otherwise hold them back and prevent them from achieving their full potential, while also helping them to better accept change and deal with challenges. But there are also distinctive benefits that can apply to the different categories of your workforce.
Leadership – With positive mindset change, the board and senior management are equipped for more effective analysis and decision-making. Freed from the restrictive fear mindset which can cloud critical thinking. This can be particularly important in times of change.
Managers – In many respects, managers have the hardest role of all. Taking pressure from above and below, it is the role most associated with stress. And mindset change can support that, helping managers to avoid those feelings of being overwhelmed, while introducing positivity even when they are most pressurised.
Frontline workforce – For other employees, mindset change can often be about personal progression, supporting the individual to achieve their goals. But it’s also about finding value at work, helping to move away from the daily grind into a scenario that is at once challenging and rewarding.
Mindset influences everything. It is a key factor in an individual’s happiness, but it can also be influenced. The important thing to remember is that we all have the power to affect our employee’s mindset and we have a duty to use that power responsibly.