The secret ingredient to engagement:
By Hebba Youssef
So many companies claim to have amazing cultures and will tout some things they do to ensure their employees are engaged.
Like a great recipe, some ingredients are kept a secret.
But we don’t keep secrets here! The ingredient you’re missing to build an engaged workforce?
Fostering an environment that embraces and supports the growth mindset.
A growth mindset encourages self-improvement and constant learning. It doesn’t view intelligence as fixed but rather a function of learning.
Employees who embrace a growth mindset will seek out feedback as an opportunity to learn and improve.
People teams supercharge this by helping managers give meaningful feedback. The framework you need is in last week’s edition.
Spoiler alert: employees with a growth mindset will be more receptive to your feedback, even if it is critical. That’s a major bonus!
Companies that embrace growth mindsets see a boost in employee engagement. Instead of focusing on “how things have always been done”, employees with a growth mindset will seek out other solutions to problems. These employees feel a greater sense of empowerment over their work which fuels engagement.
Imagine: your employees show up engaged, ready to solve problems AND they don’t balk at receiving critical feedback.
What a dream!
How People teams can support a culture of growth:
I’ve had dozens of conversations with employees and one of the most common sources of frustration is lack of growth opportunities.
This became especially relevant in 2021 during The Great Resignation where other than compensation, employees were leaving for better growth opportunities. Due to inflation, the number one reason why employees leave is back to being compensation.
But that doesn’t mean growth opportunities ceased to be important to employees!
Here are 4 ways to provide your employees with career development:
1.Invest in leveling your employees and building a career path framework.
When leveling your roles, think about the scope and impact of each role.
A common leveling structure I’ve shared before is:
- Individual contributors (IC)
- Management (M)
- Executives (E).
- Within each of those groups can be levels 1-7
Each level will have different requirements for what it means to be operating at that level. Your job descriptions should also be mapped to these different levels for any role you are hiring for!
Bonus points: share your leveling structure with your employees and have clear conversations about what it takes to get to the next level.
BOOM employees now have a map for career growth. Hello engagement, goodbye dread.
2.Create a leadership development program
I LOVE a good leadership development program. Investing in internal talent has massive benefits like higher engagement and lower turnover! AND having an internal talent pipeline to tap for future leadership opportunities is a game changer. Employees will see that there are opportunities for them to grow!
But like most things, it isn’t easy to build a leadership development program – avoid these common mistakes when creating your leadership development program.
3.Set up a mentorship program
I’ll never forget my first mentor. She taught me so much from how to manage frustrations to strategic thinking. A great mentor can be powerful and life changing for employees.
Much like a leadership development program, setting up a mentorship program benefits not only the employee but the organization as well! The mentor has the opportunity to align the employee’s career aspiration with the needs of the organization.
Mentors also benefit from this type of program and experience higher job satisfaction and commitment to their organizations.
Sounds like a win-win situation! This guide outlines the 5 steps to building a mentorship program.
4.Ensure your managers are giving meaningful feedback.
Last week I shared my favorite framework for giving feedback. Train your managers to use that framework when delivering feedback to their teams.
According to a recent study only 50% of managers felt confident in their ability to deliver feedback. ACK.
Bold take: make your managers practice. Yeah, I said practice! The more managers practice giving feedback the better and more comfortable they will become. I’d like to be the Michael Jordan of feedback some day therefore i’ll never stop praticing!
Employees with a growth mindset will embrace the opportunity to get feedback. Feed that energy and set your managers up for success to deliver quality feedback.
Hiring talent with a growth mindset:
In my experience, I’ve seen hiring managers over index on skills required and under index on growth potential. It may be the first instinct to focus on skills but when building a team for the future, looking for talent that can learn and grow with the organization could be more impactful.
Whispers: growth mindset
Disclaimer: Hiring processes are riddled with unconscious bias and can potentially hold back a hiring manager from identify candidates with a growth mindset. Don’t be that manager. Take note of the different types of bias that can appear in an interview. One way to combat bias is to consistently ask the same questions to all the candidates interviewing for the same position.
Here are 3 questions to use to assess for a growth mindset:
1.Tell me about the last piece of feedback you received? Did you agree with it, why or why not?
What i’m listening for: I want to hear about what they learned from the feedback they received.
2.When was the last time you had an outcome that was different than what you wanted? What happened?
What i’m listening for: how the candidate handles challenges and unexpected outcomes.
3. How do you imagine your growth at this company?
What I’m listening for: that the candidate is thinking about their growth and what they can learn.
There’s a catch – psychological safety is crucial for the success of this all.
None of the work above will be meaningful if there is not psychological safety at your organization or your teams.
Psychological safety is the glue that holds everything together especially when it comes to growth.
Growth is not linear. Indexing so hard on upward mobility and not thinking about the ebbs and flows of performance is underestimating true growth. Your employees are bound to make mistakes and when they do they should not fear the outcome.
Just like they shouldn’t fear disagreeing with feedback…
But employees do! And sadly, it’s because there is a lack of psychological safety.
Next week I’ll discuss the importance of psychological safety and why it is the glue that holds everything together.