What’s your mindset?

Recently I attended a really thought provoking event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce which was on the topic of the role of Life Long Learning & Business Growth. The speakers on the day were of equal measure witty & informative which kept the audience refreshingly alert and engaged. All of the topics and findings from this day have stuck with me still, but it was Philip Matthew’s talk on the Mindset for growth that I find myself coming back to and resisting the urge to speak about at every given chance … clearly my willpower hasn’t held up on this occasion!  In keeping with the day’s theme of lifelong learning, Philip’s speech focused mainly on the research and workings of Carol Dweck a highly respected and published psychologist who lectures in Stanford University. Dweck proposes that people’s learning style/mindset can be categorised into two, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset which in summary can be described as follows:

A fixed mindset are those who believe that their talents and achievements in their career and indeed their personal life are innate in them and that they are essentially born with their strengths and talents. Those with a growth mindset are “individuals who believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies and input from others.” The see failure not as evidence of unintelligence but rather as a foundation and springboard to learn and grow from. People with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations — they see themselves as learning.”

So what does these mean? And what does it mean to a recruiter? For me, it really got me thinking, (a very dangerous thing)!  It made me wonder how far rooted these mindsets reached? What affect would this have in terms of my candidates thought process and outlook; surely this must have some bearing on their approach to their job search as well as their approach to learning. After all Deck found that traits of these mindsets were found in research with candidates of the age of 4. And also, if this mindset was so prominent within people, could these same principles be as clear cut in companies too?

After further happy digging, it turns out Deck got tickled by this question far before me. After again conducting several diverse sample tests on a number of fortune 1000 companies, Dweck and her team of researchers found that like individuals, companies too could be seen to be either of a fixed or growth mindset. And like people, companies suffered from the negative effect of a fixed mind set. For example; Employees within firms with a fixed mindset had a focus on “star workers” and teams were reported to be more worried about failing and thus had fewer innovation projects.

As opposed to companies of a fixed mindset, Growth mindset companies are:

47% likelier to say that their colleagues are trustworthy,
34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company,
65% likelier to say that the company supports risk taking, and
49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation

Upon researching this topic, I found myself considering my own candidates and clients to see just how life like this mindset truly was. It turns out, it unequivocally is. I have recently had the pleasure to work very closely with a really interesting dynamic and diverse gaming company based in Dublin, where from the onset I knew that the cultural fit for this organisation would be more important than any other element to the role. In essence the culture came to have a marmite effect. Candidates would love it or hate it. It became clear early on that what I had thought to be the perks of the firm such as its view on flexi time, its flat structure, the little to no regimented HR processes as well as built in gaming time were all again feeling the marmite effect. At the time, I had thought this was down to a culture mismatch, but now I wonder is this in fact a mindset mismatch?

Upon closer inspection of the candidates in the process I found that those who progressed in the process had growth mindset characteristics. So those who embrace change, persist in the face of setbacks, see efforts as path to mastery, learn from critics, and finally find lessons and inspiration in the success of others were successful in achieving a role with the firm. Similarly, those who did not progress had very close similarities to that of the fixed mindset. What this meant on a more practical basis was that those who didn’t need a job spec or often didn’t even need a specific open role to interview, faired the best within interviews. Those who were happiest to receive feedback on themselves, who were open to discuss what their weaknesses and who were open to unusual interview competency questions or interview tasks, were those who progressed within the company. Their approach and demeanour in interview were all classic case growth mindset characteristics and as a result have proved to be a great fit within this growth mindset firm!

If the characteristics that were deemed successful for this gaming company are so blatant, and in line with the firm’s internal mantra, could it be that this growth vs. fixed mindset approach be a magic key that unlocks a better fit for both candidates and clients? Is this outlook perhaps even more trustworthy than industry background and experience? I’m left with thinking, will the fixed vs. growth mindset overtake the role of culture or are they one of the same?



HR Professionals “pining” for Part-Time

Lately I advertised a role for a part-time HR Business Partner and was inundated with applications from highly qualified, highly credible, highly personable and highly paid HR professionals.

The choice of people applying for this role was amazing and completely outstripped the number of quality applicants that I would typically get for a full-time role.

Every enquiry in relation to this role started with….”it is so rare to see a part-time role in HR at Business Partner level and above”

Most people I spoke with were comfortable to take a pay cut for the “privilege of part-time work”

In fact, one lady was happy to take a pay-cut of up to 55% for the luxury of a part-time role.

The majority of the people I spoke to wanted to continue working in their chosen profession of HR but they also wanted some flexibility and work/life balance.

You would think that in this day and age, this would not be too much to ask!


And the moral of the story…?

To all you employers out there who are planning on hiring a HR professional for your business but have a limited budget? Why not make the role part-time?

Hire someone who is more than capable, comfortable and content in this role – and to make the budget work offer it three days a week – not five!

People working part-time are often more focused and productive and have also been known to answer the occasional email on their days off!

It is a WIN: WIN situation not be overlooked

Would be keen to hear your thoughts on this topical subject….

Leadership & Gender – Navigating the Labyrinth

This morning I attended a really interesting talk by Dr Melrona Kirrane on the invitation of Hannah Carney (Carney & Associates) and Mount Anville Past Pupil’s Association (MAPPA)

MAPPA’s 2016 Network breakfast was on the very interesting topic of “Leadership & Gender – Navigating the Labyrinth”.

What is abundantly clear is that in Ireland we still have such a long way to go to ensure that women are more fairly represented at senior management levels and above within organisations.

While Dr Kirrane provided some very interesting research into the why, she also gave us some great insights into what we, as women, can do in the short term to help the situation and take more control of our careers at both an organisational and personal level.

At an organisational level: 

• Get rid of long hours’ culture

• Use hard data for managing performance

• Have less reliance on informal networks and referrals to fill roles

• Ensure that your organisation has a critical mass of women in executive positions

Remember “You can’t be what you can’t see” 

At a personal level: 

• Acquire 3 sponsors with influence and clout: have a genuine relationship based on trust and communication

• Get networking across three types of networks: operational, personal and strategic.

• Be politically astute and take credit for the work you are doing.

• Have presence, Be confident. Believe in yourself.

• Make your partner a real partner – share the load properly.

• Don’t leave before you leave

• Proceed to be BOLD.

Thanks so much for providing me with some great food for thought this morning. Thanks MAPPA, Dr Kirrane and one of my key Sponsor’s Hannah Carney.