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Fostering a Growth Mindset at Work

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The path to achieving self-growth is anything but smooth. The first step alone — admitting that one needs to improve oneself — can take some time and requires a lot of guts. And it’s not a smooth ride from there even: Throughout this journey of self-growth, there’ll be moments of weakness, instances during which we’ll feel lost or stuck, stagnating and seemingly hopeless.

There are also, however, those glorious moments when we rise above the tides and conquer. These successes remind us of our resilience and capabilities to overcome obstacles. During such times, we also realize the value of employing the right headspace and mindset to navigate challenges effectively.

With anything in life, having an appropriate mindset is a necessity that cannot be overstated. It affects everything from what we do to how we respond to things around us. It helps us conquer our fears to commit mistakes and empowers us to recognize where we fail and how we can get back up and evolve from them. It reminds us that as long as we are willing to go the extra mile no matter the hurdles, we can continue moving forward and reach whatever goals we set for ourselves. These are what having a growth mindset is all about.

Growth mindset vs fixed mindset: A battle of the mind

Growth mindset, a theory proposed by American psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck, states that an individual has the capacity to continually learn and grow regardless of their inherent abilities. Think of how in movies, the protagonist goes on a long journey of self-discovery and by the end of the film, he/she can do so much more after experiencing a lot of challenges. Having a growth mindset means believing that our skills can be improved and every challenge we face are stepping stones toward our success.

The opposite is called fixed mindset. Individuals with a fixed mindset believe they are not capable of improving, that their performance is hindered by the qualities they are born with. Basically, they think that what they have is all that they can rely on. They don’t perceive challenges as avenues for improvement, rather indicators of their limits, and once the threshold is reached, that’s it. They hold themselves back by engaging only in activities they perform well, which is detrimental to their own development.

It doesn’t take much to recognize the value of having a growth mindset, but it’s crucial to note that although we wish to have a pure growth mindset, there is no such thing. Everyone harbors a blend of both growth and fixed mindsets. That said, the decision to choose a growth mindset over a fixed mindset is well within our control. Embracing and understanding the coexistence of these two mindsets is already a step in the right direction toward personal and professional development.

Growth mentality at work

Employees and managers can work hand in hand to foster an environment conducive to growth, both personal and career.

Employees can be more proactive in seeking opportunities to learn and hone their skills, not just those fundamental to their job but other skills — soft and hard — that can help pave the way for advanced or new roles within the company or even outside when the time to leave comes. Employees can take the initiative and lead projects, for example. This is a great way to show one is committed to getting better at one’s job and demonstrate leadership potential at the same time.

How about management and managers? They should pay attention to employees’ strengths and weaknesses and create opportunities for holistic development for the team. Besides encouraging open communication and idea sharing within the organization instead of the traditional top-down setup, managers can inspire critical thinking among the team members while making them accountable for their work. Creating an inclusive and positive work environment, providing regular and constructive feedback, and charting training and career growth all spur the growth mindset.

Aside from delegating tasks that showcase an employee’s strengths or potential, team managers and supervisors may opt for task rotations to allow other team members to try new roles and learn new skills. Task rotations not only keep the work environment dynamic and engaging but also empower employees to step out of their comfort zones and feel being trusted, thereby fostering continuous growth and creating a more versatile and resilient team.

Growth mindset and thriving in PR

Adopting a growth mindset is particularly crucial in dynamic fields where expectations and pressures are high. Yes, such as in the public relations sphere.

Besides the tight and seemingly endless deadlines, PR work involves dealing with multiple internal and external stakeholders each time. Client demands, which can change from one minute to the next and sometimes midway through a task, can be overwhelming. The adrenaline and excitement to meet deliverables can indeed be stimulating, but the constant high energy can test one’s limits, which is why stress levels and burnout incidences are high.

Many PR agencies, in particular the smaller ones, experience a high attrition rate. One reason could be employee burnout and a feeling of lack of growth. A growth mindset among team members and management could help shed light on this and explore solutions.

A proper mindset is an invaluable asset when executing campaigns that demand creativity and adaptability. When dealing with unexpected PR crises or any urgent matter, a PR professional with a forward-thinking mindset is likely to be more level-headed than overwhelmed. Whether it be a matter of clashing timelines, a client misunderstanding or something else entirely, the mindful PR professional will see the situation as a learning experience and seize the opportunity, learn from it and derive innovative solutions thereafter.

Even with feedback mechanism, a growth mindset plays an important role. When the feedback is all good, it’s cool. If it is not all roses, the reaction may be different, especially if one has a different expectation or is not open to critique, even constructive ones. But for someone with a growth mindset, dealing with criticisms and feedback is more manageable. Some would even welcome or ask for feedback, knowing that it’s a surefire way to learn. That PR article sent back by the client for revision is not a failure but an opportunity in disguise. That less-than-impressive pitch isn’t the end of everything but the start of something new. Even when plans don’t go as well as anticipated, a growth mindset teaches us that we’re not restarting from zero but from experience — and there is always room for improvement.

In the realm of PR, progress trumps perfection. Every successful PR campaign, written PR article, executed event and secured client contract isn’t achieved without facing bumps along the road. So don’t let yourself stagnate but instead keep reinventing yourself. You are your best investment, after all.

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