Mindset – The psychological challenge of business growth
When a business changes faster than employees’ thinking there is a problem!
Individuals’ assumptions, priorities and expectations become obsolete – mindset becomes a big obstacle to change and growth. Employees continue do a great job, but in some respects its yesterday’s job. Overworked managers repeatedly explain, take on tasks they should not, resolve disagreements, and ponder why people “just don’t get it”.
That is the mindset challenge. It has a few origins…
1) Widening job scope
Business growth increases the volume of existing work, and creates new, different tasks. Growth widens everyone’s’ responsibilities, it is not simply more of the same. There’s new stuff! Individuals with fixed perceptions of their jobs are inevitably unprepared for the broader roles growth creates.
2) Changing priorities
The new customers, products, technologies and partners associated with growth bring new, different priorities. Some of what employees knew to be important yesterday becomes wrong today. What employees worked hard to deliver then does not matters less now, and that is understandably difficult to accept.
3) Raising expectations
Investors expect more from a growing business, especially when they invest even more. However, for employees with no entrepreneurial mindset, the repeated raising of the bar seems unjust. It is not what they signed up for.
4) Defunct ways of working
As a business grows, meetings, reports, measures, methods, systems, data, structures – even who sits where – can become unfit for purpose. Sure, those can be tackled, if employees work together in new ways to fix them. A growing business needs a great deal of innovative collaboration. And, the obstacle to collaboration is of course mindset, especially when people have worked in organisational silos.
What is the answer?
Sure, you have to carefully explain the growing business to employees, and explain, and explain… However, you will only ever communicate 10% of what individuals need to know. You cannot cover the countless implications of growth for every role. Additionally, any explanation you give today will be incomplete or misleading tomorrow! Communication is only part of the answer.
Crucially, you cannot change an individuals’ mindset; only they can change their thinking. But, you can help individuals discover how their understanding no longer fits. And, help them explore new ways of seeing things. In other words, get people learning about the growing business. Get employees working out for themselves what they need to do.
You can engineer learning for growth strategically and tactically…
Strategically by “leading learning” – by creating opportunities for individuals to discover more about the changing business. For example, by generating new, pertinent feedback from customers. Or, by discussing yesterday’s priorities and assumptions, and how they fit today. For ideas on leading learning click here.
Foster learning tactically with a consistent approach to learning. For example, the engage-explore-explain method…
- Engage employees thinking, trigger their curiosity, and ask what questions they think they need answers to.
- Explore – enable and encourage employees to get pertinent information that answer their questions.
- Explain – give time to reflecting on learning, and how employees thinking (mindset) might usefully change.
engage-explore-explain is a robust, proven approach to facilitating learning. It is part of how NASA does things! Employees learn the engage-explore-explain method quickly, and soon use it independently.
I hope that is helpful. Mindset can be changed, sometimes changed quickly. However, you have to be creative, and you may well need to change too!
Connect with me to stay in touch, and for more ideas.
Author: Peter Goodge