• Chiara Toselli

How to Give Feedback With a Growth Mindset Approach

Giving and receiving feedback can be challenging in the workplace.


People on both sides of the desk fear feedback. Many managers don’t like giving feedback; they often fear the negative reactions to feedback conversations. In fact, research shows that only 50% of managers are able to deliver constructive feedback. Employees also fear feedback; sometimes constructive criticism can feel like a personal insult to their character.


However, research shows that a growth mindset can equip managers and employees with the right tools to give and receive more meaningful feedback.

growth mindset

What is a growth mindset?

People that believe their talents can be developed over time and through effort have a growth mindset. These individuals put effort into learning and constantly attempt to improve their skills.

"We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don't like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary." - Dr. Carol Dweck, Psychologist & Author of Growth Mindset

How to give feedback with a growth mindset approach


1) Reframe the feedback mindset & create a common language

First and foremost, employees need to shift their mindset around feedback - it’s not something that should be feared. On the contrary, the opposite should be feared. Not receiving continuous feedback impedes performance.


When both manager and employee are able to embrace feedback, more successful performance management conversations can ensue. Performance conversations transition from the check-in-the box tasks to opportunities to improve and develop. To that end, there should be a common language around feedback. For example, your organization may want to recast ‘negative’ feedback as ‘developmental’ feedback. Your organization may also want to get rid of ratings as ratings can sometimes do more harm than good (check out our past article on our thoughts on performance ratings).


We also encourage that feedback becomes a regular occurrence at your organization. There are vast amounts of research that suggest that continuous feedback is better for developing, engaging, and motivating your employees. We would also encourage the use of 360 feedback if you organization is agile, composed of multiple different teams (if you are looking for 360 feedback software, check out Pavestep).


One thing that should be highlighted here: there is a science and art to feedback. Great job isn’t going to inspire anyone. Feedback has to be constructive - focusing on the behaviors and actions of the individual. For feedback examples, check out our past blog on employee feedback examples.

"Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning." - Dr. Carol Dweck

2) Reward improvement (not just results)

Feedback should be focused on effort. Vast improvements in employee performance is worth praising (even if quota is missed). Highlight the journey and highlight the employee’s efforts. Feedback is more meaningful when it highlights someone’s effort and not innate traits. It will ultimately help increase employee engagement and motivation.


3) Encourage a two-way conversation

It’s hard to have developmental conversations if there is only one person that does all the talking. Managers should strive for the employee to participate - remember that feedback conversations should not be a one way dialogue. Some questions that managers can ask to help encourage a two-way conversation

  • What do you think you can improve?

  • What skills would you like to work on?

  • How can I [the manager] better support you? / What can I do differently?

  • Do I give you enough feedback? Would you like more?

For more questions, check out our 100+ questions guidebook for some inspiration.


Conclusion

The role of growth mindset plays an important role in workplace interactions. Moreover, companies that have a culture that embraces a growth mindset have better employee engagement and motivation. Normalizing feedback, rewarding effort (not just results), and encouraging a two-way conversation are a great start in embracing a feedback mindset.


How do you encourage a growth mindset in your workplace?