Growth Mindset, Feedback, and the Power of Peers

October 17, 2017 Lynne Levy

Budding plant

Hear more from Lynne Levy on feedback, growth, and development in the latest episode of WorkHuman Radio, embedded at the top of this post.

Meaningful feedback is the lifeblood for learning and growing. As an employee, leader, and learner, I am always looking for new education, new projects to work on, and new ideas to explore. I don’t consider mistakes to be failures, but rather, learning opportunities. I consider falling down and stretching are part of growth. I have what can be coined a “growth mindset.”  According to Harvard Business Review, “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset.”

At a previous company, I was a product management leader and wanted to learn a new skill. There was a position open in product marketing, so I decided it would be a great place to learn some new skills which would help my long-term growth.

The challenge I had in this position was I worked for a manager who believed that a person either knew what they were doing or they didn’t. He had what is called a “fixed mindset.” According to Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, people with a fixed mindset believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them.

My manager made it clear to everyone on his team that mistakes were unacceptable and not tolerated. You were expected to know how to do your job perfectly. Here I was, with a product management background, looking to learn product marketing and blend the skills together. Yet I was working for a manager who expected his employees to be perfect at their jobs. In spite of this, I continued to learn by leveraging my peers and the power of the crowd.

Instead of asking him for feedback, I asked for feedback and learning from the people I actually worked with. With every key deliverable, I would ask for feedback from three or four colleagues on my messaging, positioning, writing, etc. They would give me constructive feedback on my messaging, how it resonated, and how it could be improved. I would feel good about learning and moving forward.

By asking for feedback and leveraging my peers for learning, I thrived in product marketing. And now I work for an organization that enables me to blend these experiences together as a product leader. From an individual and an organizational perspective, how do you create a culture of growth and learning?

  • Change your language. Instead of using the word mistakes or failure, use words such as learning and growth.
  • Create trust. In order for people to learn and grow, they need to work in a culture of trust where people can ask others for feedback without concern for their job position or status.
  • Lead by example. As leaders, ask your teams for feedback on how you are doing. Take this feedback and learn from it.
  • Own your growth. There is nobody who is going to look out for your learning and growth besides yourself. Own the fact that you need others to help you grow and learn. Talk to others about your growth so that they can, in turn, support your growth.
  • Realize you can grow. Our skills are not fixed. We can learn, expand, and even change careers. Don’t assume you are too old or don’t have what it takes to grow your skills.

Feedback from people you trust creates cultures that enable learning and growth, which results in improved engagement and productivity. Owning your growth gives individuals the confidence and power to ask for feedback and learn from it.

Want to learn more about building a culture of trust and growth? Check out Conversations, a new performance development product from Globoforce. Or, check out a video about Conversations below.