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Post: How To Foster A Growth Mindset In Belt-Tightening Times



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There’s a Zig Ziglar quote that says your attitude determines your altitude. The saying encourages those who hear it to develop a growth mindset, embracing challenges as opportunities. Instead of viewing setbacks and less-than-ideal circumstances as signs it’s time to throw in the towel, teams with growth mindsets forge ahead. They continue to put forth effort until they find a solution, seeing each attempt to succeed as part of the learning process.

Adopting a growth mindset can lead to high performance, even during challenging economic times. When sales take a dip and customers seem more on edge, your team may take it personally. But this can lead to what’s known as a fixed mindset, where individuals give up easily and ignore insightful feedback. It’s the opposite of what you want for your team and business. Here’s how to foster a growth mindset among your employees during belt-tightening times.

Tell the Truth

Fostering a growth mindset doesn’t mean sugarcoating the facts. When consumers spend less, it impacts nearly every business in some way. If you’re a telecom company, maybe you saw a surge in new customers during the pandemic. They needed reliable ways to stay connected from home, including high-speed internet. But now your company’s experiencing a drop as customers look to consolidate and minimize household expenses.

Whichever way the economy is influencing your company’s sales volume, be honest about it. Set realistic expectations with your team about sales forecasts. Let them know you anticipate ups and downs. The good times may be over now, but they can and will return. Plus, lower sales don’t mean there won’t be any wins at all.

Survey research shows people tend to spend their money differently during a recession. The essentials, such as rent and groceries, become higher priorities. Consumers might be less willing to fork over their paychecks for something frivolous. But they’ll occasionally treat themselves to a movie or a new outfit. These are the opportunities your team should still view as chances to bring in business and build future customer loyalty.

Plan for Setbacks

Remember how a growth mindset perceives challenges as opportunities instead of an indication that it’s time to quit? Well, leaders who want their teams to see obstacles as opportunities plan for them. They realize there will be setbacks regardless of the economy’s performance. Whether the market’s having a heyday or dropping fast, obstacles are part of being in business.

Preparing for the unexpected is wise, but so is anticipating which setbacks are most likely to happen. Outlining weaknesses in your operations and approaches can become lessons in ways to improve. Maybe there are shortcomings in your lead-gen strategies. They’re not as obvious when the economy’s roaring, but they become stumbling blocks when prospects cut back.

Knowing these hurdles will appear during tough times is a chance to task the team with a problem-solving project. Bring them together to share insights about what they’re hearing customers and leads say about the company’s approach. There could be a “Holy crap!” idea in there somewhere. Have the group try out their ideas, framing them as experiments in discovering what works. It’s all right if something doesn’t pan out as long as they persist in finding what does.

Create a Safe Learning Environment

Employees are less likely to listen to feedback when they don’t feel leadership cares about their well-being. While managers often must find an appropriate balance between positive reinforcement and constructive criticism, staff members should feel it’s OK to make mistakes. Employees should also feel leaders welcome their ideas.

Asking direct reports for their opinions is a good thing, but not if you’re only paying them lip service. If it’s only the ideas of leaders that get implemented, employees will stop talking. They’ll perceive they’re just there to take orders and believe they have to deflect from their mistakes to survive. Staff members may also think leadership doesn’t value customers’ experiences, leading to disengagement and burnout.

Gallup’s research shows only one in five employees strongly agree that leaders make decisions in their customers’ best interests. Those who do are four times as likely to feel pride in their organizations’ products and services. Staff are more invested in exceeding clients’ expectations when they feel leadership truly cares. When customers’ needs change in a tough economy, empathy from leaders can determine whether employees follow orders or innovate.

Developing Growth Mindsets in Challenging Times

People with growth mindsets don’t see challenges as threats. They see obstacles as a chance to discover something new or solve an ongoing problem. Economic uncertainty is one of the many hurdles businesses face. However, it can cause employees to give in to feelings of anxiety and defeat.

Leaders who foster a growth mindset during cutbacks teach their teams to learn from what’s happening. They’re transparent, strategic and supportive. It’s not about succeeding as soon as possible. It’s about trusting the process and acknowledging what the team knows today that it didn’t yesterday will enable them to succeed tomorrow.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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