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What happens when I think you can change

Would you take time to help someone if you thought that they couldn?t improve? After all if people can?t change why try to give advice or feedback. Also, why bother to look out for alterations in behaviour, either good or bad, if people are fixed in their ability levels

A recent article reveals how unhelpful these beliefs can be in the business world.  The authors reveal that organisations can help to change mindsets so that managers begin to see the potential for growth and learning in people, and that this can be done through specific interventions.  They also show how this has a direct effect on the performance of managers and their employees.

The article, in this months issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, by Peter Heslin and Don Vandle Walle details how a manager?s fixed mindset can effect performance appraisals and coaching. Managers who endorse a fixed mindset, a belief that people can?t change in their ability or personality, are less good at recognising real changes in staff, both good and bad.  They also found that this effects how managers coach employees.

Endorsing a fixed mindset is both common and normal yet the problem with holding this belief is that it biases managers? perceptions and decisions about employees. This results in a failure to alter either a positive or negative impression of an employee?s performance.  This may mean, for example, that a manager may fail to see that the ?high flyer? is failing to perform or that the ?no hoper? has in fact made a lot of progress

It is possible to cultivate more of a growth mindset in managers. For example, a 6 week intervention changed participant?s view of people from fixed towards seeing others as having a huge potential for growth and change.  This intervention not only changed beliefs but behaviour too in that people were likely to give more, and better, suggestions to employees during appraisals and that they displayed a greater acknowledgement of improvement. The article also details the intervention they used.  You can access the article here 

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