Some recent feedback from clients about talent we had placed caught my attention.
I'm paraphrasing, but the gist of it was that each of the new hires had come with a growth mindset.
To demonstrate what that is, here are a few of the comments ...
1 - They added value to the organisation's bottom line by stepping outside of their own role description and set of responsibilities to suggest ways that the organisation they had joined could be more efficient, more profitable or how it could explore new revenue streams.
2 - They make judgements and take decisions based on where they, the project, the wider organisation and the market and industry, in general, are likely to be in 12 months; as opposed to making decisions that JUST deliver more limited short-term gains.
3 - They are great at listening and instead of reacting negatively to tough feedback from stakeholders, colleagues or clients they try to see things from the other person's perspective. Often a person with a fixed mindset will react defensively and justify their position or actions whereas the growth mindset is programmed to try to not take it personally and take any valuable insight on board.
4 - They are great at failing and rather than cover up a mistake they shine a bright light on it and seek to learn all they can. The growth mindset sees each stumble as a teacher and actually gets greater value in terms of lessons learned from the mess ups than the successes.
5 - They are incredibly self-aware and totally open to developing the skills needed if they don't already have them - rather than try to blag their way through.
6 - They welcome and embrace challenges and they love change. It sounds crazy but some IT Project Managers don't like change and I guess ten years ago this may have been OK. Back when 'disruption' might happen every now and then when you could manage each new project like you did the last and apply the same methodology you'd been using since you qualified, I suppose a fixed mindset might have got you through. These days though disruption is constant, each project (indeed each task within a project) may benefit from a different project management approach. The growth mindset that takes on each challenge with gusto is a very attractive character trait in today's market.
7 - They are self-improvement junkies. They listen to podcasts, they read industry blogs, their bookshelves are full of self-development and leadership titles, they are up to date with sector news and current best practice and thinking and when they get a notification on their phone it is more likely to be from CIO.com or the PMI than the latest celebrity gossip,
There is something very attractive about a growth mindset!
Now, we make sure that we meet each candidate before we agree to represent them and, I have to be honest, a growth mindset is not one of the criteria we use to measure suitability, but it is no coincidence that the talent we have been recommending seems to have this in spades! If a candidate has a growth mindset then the likelihood is that it will be on display as their default setting, so naturally, it will there when they are interviewed by a recruitment specialist. It is also not unreasonable that this growth mindset may cause such a candidate to be bubbled up when talent is being put forward for a role.
So, how do you identify if a potential new hire has a growth mindset?
Rather than basing questions on hypothetical situations in your organisation and asking what a candidate would do, ask them about actual situations from their career and how they dealt with them. For instance, "Tell me about a time where you've received harsh criticism and how you reacted", "Tell me about when you added value to a previous company you worked at, beyond the job", "Tell me about what you've done in the last twelve months to improve yourself" or "Tell me about the biggest mistake you made in a role and what you learned and did differently in the future". In each instance, a candidate with a growth mindset will be open and enthusiastically tell you about what they have done, what happened next, what they learned from their experiences how they acted differently the next time.
Another great interview question is "What have you learned in the last 12 months that you didn't know a year ago?" Listen to the answer and build the next part of the interview around this theme, this way you can really drill down into how your candidate thinks.
Or ... you could just hire a recruitment partner that seems to have a knack for recommending candidates with a growth mindset ;0).
Recruiting your A team is probably the most important thing you do in your business. Talent with a growth mindset will create growth in your company and your company's growth will, in turn, feed the talent's desire to develop, it is a circular pattern where one feeds the other and so on.
Thoughts are so powerful, will your next hire's thoughts be fixed, or will they lead to exciting mutual growth?
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