Yesterday our team set the 2018 BHAG goal for our building. Reflecting on the process reminded me of something I wrote back in August. I as read the passage again I thought it would be worth sharing again here.
August 28, 2017 Effort versus results
This morning I have been considering the impact of what we say to ourselves and others. Self-talk has been discussed for years by different authors and is proven to have an impact on our ability to grow. Thoughts in general are the seeds that lead to actions. If we think it, we will work towards making it a reality. We have to be careful which thoughts we nurture. In “Mindset,” Dr. Dweck mentions that a growth mindset is focused on effort and learning and the fixed mindset is more likely not to try for fear of failure. So what happens if we only focus on results to judge outcomes? Are we pushing people into a fixed mindset?
I am not sure I will answer this today but we will see what happens when I finish typing. At work we are judged by results and at times we even say the results are all that matters. Based on this, we can easily slip into a fixed mindset. This is where we do not want to make a wrong decision so we do not make decisions. This can be a reason we have leaders that refuse to set a true BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) and worse even try to hit it. They fear both failing to achieve the goal and actually achieving the goal. If they fail to achieve they can at least say the goal was the issue, “it was not realistic,” or blame things out of there control, “we just do not have enough customers.” The fear of reaching the goal is even more alarming, “if we hit it the goal will increase,” or “if they know we can then we will be required to do so every month.” We need to work on their mindset if we want to change the results.
I can see how our leaders in different areas can slip into the fixed mindset because we focus on results. I also know that we focus on results instead of effort in our minds because people can give effort and never reach the goal. We have seen many leaders work 12 to 14 hour days and put in lots and lots of effort only to see no improvement. Are we justified in this area to only focus on results?
This is where the culture conversation is so important. If we refuse to focus on the culture of the effort then we receive no reward. You can hit your goals and even do it more than once with just effort and no culture. You cannot sustain the highest level of performance without a great culture. By focusing on the results we are working to encourage the correct efforts. Too often we do not help our leaders understand this principle because we are looking for the quick fix. “We need you to show vast improvement now.” If this coaching is done without the proper information regarding what the “vast improvement” looks like then we will not get our desired outcome. Often we see leaders make a quick improvement only to find a month or two later it is gone or even worse than before. In these situations when we go into the building after the leader leaves us, we find things we cannot believe were happening. These are signs the leader was pushed into a fixed mindset and did not know the way out.
If we want different results we have to change the way we communicate and develop the growth mindset of others. We are in business and businesses have to make a profit or they will no longer be in business. When we see a leader struggling, we can help them make “vast improvements” but we cannot short cut the process of developing the proper culture and building a growth mindset. We talk often to leaders in our organization about taking risk and building up the buildings and getting the right people on the bus in the correct seat.
Unfortunately we do not do a great job of turning managers into leaders. This is a direct reflection on how these partners in these organizations see our feedback. I am not sure I have made my point clearly enough that others reading this will understand. My conclusion is that we can focus on the results to judge if the efforts being made are working. We need to communicate with those not achieving the desired results in a manner that will help them develop a growth mindset. This is going to require us to study our communications and look at the results we are having in helping these leaders. Their results are our results. If we are not getting what we want, then we need to change what we are doing. Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Focus on what they are doing and not who they are and we can change the game. “You really worked hard to achieve this great month,” is much better than, “wow you are so talented, what a great month.” One leads to a growth mindset and the other leads to a fixed mindset. When we feel it is because of being smart or talented rather than our effort we will being to work with a fixed mindset. Truth us regardless of the accomplishment, effort had more to do with the outcome than talent. We need to encourage effort and keep focused on the right efforts to build our teams. At the end of the day we will know them by the fruits of their labors.
Affirmation: I will look at others with a growth mindset, praising them for what they are doing to improve and not who they are because of the improvement. I know that I can have an impact on myself and others by praising in the wrong way leading to a fixed mindset. I will study what I am saying and improve my communication each day.