Mindset is foundational to the success or failure of any organization. This article explains why building a growth mindset is an important initiative for learning and development (L&D) teams and outlines strategies that will help create a learning mindset in employees.

Why Is a Growth Mindset Important?

The nature of work, team dynamics, leadership and management, as well as collaboration changed considerably in 2020.

According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, the biggest area of focus for L&D teams is upskilling and reskilling employees. The success of organizations in 2021 will depend on their ability to prepare their employees for the new normal and future states of work. This is a tall order.

A growth mindset is a vital precursor for any upskilling or reskilling program. Building and promoting a growth mindset is an important focus area for L&D organizations.

Ironically, the education and L&D fields tend to be slow to change and innovation. For example, even during the pandemic, many L&D organizations tried to convert traditional face-to-face training into virtual instructor-led training (VILT) without changing anything other than the modality, despite feedback from learners.

Leveraging a Design Thinking Approach to Problem-solving

Design thinking is an approach to problem-solving that emphasizes the power of ideation and iteration. L&D teams in 2021 need to leverage more courage to take calculated risks. To mitigate the negative consequences of failed risks, L&D teams should make iterations quickly and efficiently.

This is only possible if the team is made up of individuals who possess a learning mindset; one in which they look for and recognize failures, take responsibility and learn from them.

Design thinking builds antifragility within organizations. While it’s impossible to predict the future, employees with a learning mindset iterate quicker, efficiently reacting to new markets and creative competitors.

Positioning L&D in Long-term Elevated Positions Within Organizations

With a growth mindset, L&D teams are problem solvers in an organization. For example, when calls to the support team increase, executives at many organizations first turn to the L&D team to collaborate, using data to identify the best solutions. Additionally, some of the added roles and responsibilities of the L&D team include the following:

  • L&D is in the driver’s seat as change-makers. L&D teams can now drive how organizations function.
  • From a growth mindset, L&D teams leverage corporate strategy and tactics as opportunities to solve problems.
  • As cited by the LinkedIn Learning 2021 Report, upskilling and reskilling are a top priority for L&D teams. This means that L&D teams are preparing employees with the skills required to be successful in the future.
  • Talent strategy, once lost in the human resources function, is now a C-suite initiative. Most organizations now view L&D as a necessity in this effort to develop a learning mindset amongst employees.
  • Modeling a learning mindset and correct behavior, L&D teams should invest in themselves by upskilling toward an increased emphasis on learning and development in the future.

Understanding the Two Types of Mindsets: The Tyranny of Now versus the Power of Yet

A fixed mindset (antithetical to a learning mindset) traps companies and employees in a perspective that different problems should be solved with the same solution. Too often, those problems cannot be solved by former practices and companies grow more and more impatient for immediate results. Carol Dweck terms this “the tyranny of now.”

In contrast, a growth mindset helps companies and employees see their progress. They can look back and learn from previous mistakes. Employees remain engaged, understanding that goals and tactics in the present are achievable. Employees with a learning mindset understand that while they may not understand immediately how to solve problems, they can iterate, experiment and learn from mistakes in their journey toward success. This moves the company past seemingly insurmountable blocks while keeping employees engaged.


What Is the Mindset of a Lifelong Learner?

Lifelong learners embrace the power of yet and employ a growth mindset. They understand that solutions can be found through iteration and experimentation. Many in the younger generations, like Gen X and Gen Z, are more open to a learning mindset and look for established learning programs as vital elements to organizations for which they would like to work.

Additionally, a learning mindset leads to teams with higher levels of cooperation and stronger norms for problem-solving, creativity and collaborative innovation.

What Must L&D Teams Do to Build a Growth Mindset?

There are several steps L&D teams should take to build both a growth and learning mindset in themselves and in their learner populations.

  1. It’s important to measure the change and impact to corporate growth and strategic success versus just smile sheets post training. This helps to foster a learning mindset among even the most entrenched employees.
  2. Leveraging the burgeoning influence L&D teams have, they can push organizational alignment toward a learning culture where employees have the resources and time required for learning and experimentation. Developing a learning mindset like this is only possible if employees are granted time for discovery and professional development outside of formal training situations.
  3. While L&D teams can design and develop formal upskilling and reskilling opportunities, organizations that foster an environment of extreme ownership at the individual level will enjoy the benefits of a growth mindset. Employees will take responsibility for their own growth, tracking movements and developments within their industry to identify learning options to remain relevant and competitive.
  4. At the same time, L&D teams can develop and promote employee learning habits and continuous learning and experimentation. They can design learning solutions that nudge and reinforce learning behavior and growth mindset. They can also create connected learning solutions that support formal training with informal learning, allow employees to curate and share content on social platforms, and seek out coaching and mentoring relationships.
  5. Finally, to develop a learning mindset, L&D teams can build and integrate learning into the flow of work. People typically forget 80% of what they learned within 30 days if they don’t apply that new knowledge or skills. Learning is about the journey, not the destination. By supporting and rewarding learning and experimentation, organizations can foster a healthy growth mindset.

Parting Thoughts

Organizations thrive when employees obtain and utilize a growth mindset. It’s an important initiative for L&D teams to develop a learning mindset among employees and with organizations.

Do you want to learn how to drive continuous learning outside the formal training environment? Download our e-book, “Elevating Remote Learning Programs – How to Drive Continuous Learning Outside the Formal Training Environment,” for insights on how to create a connected learning solution that supports formal training with informal learning opportunities.