In our first piece about meta-talent, we stated that traditional associations with talent are by-products of something else. Some of these associations include intelligence, development, and persistence. That ‘something else’ is what we call meta-talent.

Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, first identified meta-talent. You’ll recall her classification when discussing fixed vs. growth mindsets. Her research in motivation and achievement shows that a growth mindset fosters a healthy attitude towards practice and learning. It also shows a greater capacity to deal with setbacks and better performance over time.

One of the important things to know about mindset is that a person’s mindset is fluid and situational. One can be open-minded and “growth” in his/her spare time, and “fixed” in a work situation. The inverse can be true as well.

What causes this? Our surroundings and culture play a huge role in how we develop our mindset. If a sports coach is:

  • direct on their coaching techniques;
  • uses training and feedback to develop both individual and team over time;

there is a great chance that the players (and team) will develop a growth mindset when playing the sport.

If one of those same team players has a job where every project:

  • has structure so that no time or money is available for experimentation;
  • rewards tied to results with bonuses and feedback is only provided on a ‘result level;’

individuals will more likely than not develop a fixed mindset at work.


Physiological manifestations to mindset

Neuroscience has shown that there are physiological manifestations to mindset.

Brain scans show that for a fixed mindset the brain is most active when receiving information about how the individual performed. Performance is usually provided as a grade or a score. Feedback serves to check their underlying ability.

For a growth mindset, the brain becomes most active when receiving information about how the individual could do better next time. In this circumstance, feedback signals:

  • the need to pay attention;
  • invest effort;
  • apply time to practice;
  • and master the new learning opportunity.

The confidence exists to learn the knowledge or skill to improve the next time.

It begs the question: “Are people’s mindset related to their level of ability in the area?” The answer is “No, at least not at first.” Says Dweck: “People with all levels of ability can hold either mindset, but over time those with the growth mindset appear to gain the advantage and outperform peers with a fixed mindset.”


Focus points on how to create a positive feedback culture

Knowing the triggers to mindset is valuable knowledge for a manager who wants to develop their team. Identifying physiological manifestations can improve feedback in the organization. When given, and received, feedback can be a powerful tool to:

  • improve professional skills;
  • motivate;
  • increase productivity;
  • raise the profile of a company’s work culture.

During performance reviews, a defensive employee can be a sign of a fixed mindset. Managers (culture creators) must coach team members on how to open themselves up to and leverage feedback. This creates a positive feedback culture

Some focus points for managers could be:

  • Become a role model for open communication and ask for more feedback from employees;
  • Encourage employees to come to you for feedback and be sure that you have the time to provide it;
  • Promote peer to peer feedback. Getting used to giving and receiving feedback from others helps develop interpersonal skills and creates a better team spirit
  • Coach employees on how to achieve a growth mindset. Dweck has shown that when you teach people about growth mindset, they become more aware of opportunities for self-improvement. They are also more willing to embrace challenges, and more likely to persist when they confront obstacles

So how does your culture measure up?  HUCAMA can help you evaluate your organization and help to build a strong feedback culture.


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