Since Satya Nadella took over as CEO, Microsoft have excelled in developing a growth mindset culture throughout the company and their share price has rocketed. Here we take a look at five secrets to Microsoft’s growth mindset success.

5 strategies

  • 1. Focus on continuous learning. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has challenged Microsoft’s employees to transition from “know-it-alls to learn-it-alls”, recognising that continuous learning and improvement is key to a growth mindset culture. Employees are encouraged to take time off during every quarter to focus on innovative or unusual ideas that may previously have failed to gain traction. Nadella explains, “The day the learn-it-all says, ‘I’m done’ is when you become a know-it-all. And so to understand that paradox and to be able to confront your fixed mindset each day is that continuous process of renewal.”
  • 2. Reframing the response to failure. Microsoft encourages its people to recognise that failure along the way will happen. Analysis of that failure is vital to success. Learning from failure and applying those learnings to future projects is the route to success and mastery. Microsoft employees describe the innovative projects that have come out of the annual hackathon, where thousands of people come together to bring new ideas to life and take risks on projects to make the world a better place. In 2017 Hackathon involved 18,304 people, across 400 cities and 75 countries. Thousands of projects were launched, including health bots, broadband availability and apps to help people with visual impairments get around more easily. Microsoft growth mindset culture at work. Discover your mindset towards failure here.
  • 3. Foster collaborative working. Creating a company where people recognise the power of working together, rather than apart, in separate teams and specialisms, is essential for a growth mindset culture. Chris Kauffman, a marketing manager at Microsoft, describes the CEO’s emphasis on fostering collaboration as a turning point for her when she noticed silos disappearing and a new cross company way of working emerge . At Microsoft for 13 years, Kauffman explains, “I went to my first hackathon three years ago and fell back in love with Microsoft, I realized that I now have permission to talk to anyone I want to. I’m no longer limited by my job function or level. And my experience … is a great example of how technology can be democratized and used by everybody.” You can find more examples of of growth mindset, collaborative working here.
  • 4. Encourage respectful questions. The cross pollination of ideas is crucial to innovation. For CEO Nadella, empathy and compassion are essential components of a growth mindset culture and key to success. Innovation happens when people appreciate each other’s perspectives and ideas, respectful questioning, using empathy and compassion oils the wheels of innovation. In interviews Nadella explains, “The value that I really learned to appreciate deeply and which I talk about a great deal is empathy. I don’t think it is simply a “nice to have” but I believe it is at the centre of the agenda for innovation here at Microsoft. Our core business is connected with the customers’ needs and we will not be able to satisfy them if we don’t have a deep sense of empathy.”
  • 5. Leaders that model a growth mindset. Research shows what anyone who has ever had to manage a fixed mindset manager will know – it’s impossible to establish a growth mindset culture in any organisation without the buy-in and commitment of influencers and leaders. To imbed Microsoft’s growth mindset success all leaders are asked to engage in a way of leading known as Model Coach Care. Leaders embody a growth mindset by focusing on three areas: active role modelling; coaching those they lead to be active role models to others and showing they care about employees personal development and growth. Microsoft’s Chief People Officer, Kathleen Hogan explains “You’re never done. Culture is something you have to earn every day and you’re only as good as your last day. But the greatest joy I have is seeing people being their authentic self, bringing their A game, and being their best self. That’s the privilege of this role.”

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