One of the tenets of my management guidelines is that I emphasize results over effort. With a focus on outcomes rather than activities, I recommend metrics that track impact (how much change occurred) rather than output (how much was produced). I don’t like to reward people for trying hard if they were working on the wrong things.
While this approach has worked well for me, Carol Dweck of Stanford University might want me to rethink part of my management style. Dweck has shown it is better to praise children for work and persistence than for their intelligence. The idea is that people nearly always perform better if they focus on things they can control, such as their effort, rather than things they cannot.
In “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” Dweck argues that people have either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, you believe that your intelligence and talents are fixed. On the other hand, in a growth mindset you believe that you are continuously able to grow and take advantage of new opportunities. Mindset matters – those who are in a growth mindset are more likely to succeed. Luckily, we can choose to operate in either mindset.
Carol Dweck explains the two different mindsets, and why your mindset matters, in the following video:
It’s a compelling idea but not everyone subscribes to it. University of Michigan laboratory experiments published in “Self and Identity” found that students who believed intelligence was malleable did not always behave as the Dweck theories would suggest. Believing you can be smarter didn’t necessarily make you smarter.
So what do I make of this? I’m still likely to reward outcomes over activities. But I need to make sure I’m reinforcing appropriate effort – even when it doesn’t lead to the desired results.
My mindset matters too.