Updated: Jul 7, 2021
To download hi-res versions of the assets in the post get access to the Better Happy Business Toolkit Here
There's a common challenge that plagues small and big businesses. I suffered it in my first venture, and there's not a week goes by that we don't talk to another business owner frustrated with the same problem.
"Every time I suggest something new, I'm just met with negativity and resistance from the team." Cue owner ripping hair out.
Not only do we hear this from small business owners, but we also hear it from big corporations alike.
Owners and leaders are very growth-minded, whereas they feel that many of their employees are fixed-mindset, which is draining.
There are very few people that wake up in the morning and think, "I'm going to be difficult and negative today; I'm going to make my bosses life difficult".
But some people crave structure and stability. These people will challenge change. This doesn't have to be a negative thing and doesn't mean they aren't growth-minded.
My business partner and I are both extremely growth-minded yet regularly challenge and resist each other's new ideas.
Many people do suffer from a fixed mindset. They fear change and resist it with negativity. Notice how I said suffer. Having a fixed mindset isn't a positive thing for the person that has it. It's a negative condition that's been nurtured in them throughout their life.
So if you run a business, it's almost guaranteed you'll have to work with growth-minded people that resist change and people suffering from a fixed mindset.
Those growth-minded people that resist change are the yin to your yang. Without them, you'd be implementing new ideas every week and never getting anywhere. By recognising this, you can see them as an asset in your business and utilise them (I'll show you how in this blog)
Those fixed mindset people in your business need your help. They've been nurtured throughout their life (possibly by family, school, previous jobs) into a fixed mindset that's limiting their lives. You have two choices with these people.
1 - View them as negative and feel frustrated with them until they inevitably leave.
2 - Help them improve their lives by coaching and supporting them into a growth-mindset, they'll perform better and stick around longer.
So here are our 5 steps on how to nurture a growth-minded team in your small business.
Make it OK to make Mistakes
If you do - Your people will feel empowered, more engaged and help you grow your business.
If you don't - Your people will feel afraid and anxious. They'll do what's required of them, resist ideas, and you'll get stuck growing your business on your own.
There aren't many things in life that are more limiting than a fear of failure.
Visualise for a moment that you have a young child that is learning to walk. Every time that child falls over, you get frustrated with them, you tell them they are stupid, and they may as well just give up now.
I'll assume that made you feel uncomfortable and seemed utterly ridiculous to you. Well, if you are fearful of making mistakes yourself or creating a culture where others are fearful of making mistakes, you're telling the baby off for falling.
The prospect of making mistakes in business can be intimidating, but it's a necessary process. It's OK if you make mistakes as the owner, and it's OK if your team makes mistakes. Facebook is well known for having the motto 'fail fast to succeed faster... and they're doing pretty well.
When you create a culture that allows mistakes, you enable a growth mindset culture. In this environment, mistakes are made and learned from to create continuous growth. Still got that devil on your shoulder telling you mistakes are too risky?.. ask yourself what's worse.
1 - Taking risks, giving team members freedom, learning and growing from mistakes
2 - Playing it safe, doing everything yourself, minimising mistakes but staying static
Embrace and allow the mistakes. It's the only way.
Communicate your strategy
If you do: You'll create the environment for a highly motivated autonomous team.
If you don't: You'll make the business reliant on you and your presence, your team will feel confused and flat.
Imagine you've been invited on a weekend mountaineering trip. The organiser wants you as part of the team and could use your skills. But they don't tell you where you're trekking or the route you're taking once you're there. When you do get there, they keep the map to themselves, ask you to follow and ask for your input when it's needed. Some of the people throw litter on the floor and swear throughout.
Does that sound frustrating? The initial invite is exciting. You get to go on a trip, be part of a team and help it succeed with your skills. You agree to go because it's exciting, but then get left in the dark about where you're actually going. You cannot input into the plan and some of the people are acting in a way that upsets you. This trip sounded great but has quickly turned into a frustrating and negative experience.
This is what it's like in most small businesses because the owners don't formulate and communicate a strategy. When I say strategy, I don't mean a 50-page business plan. I simply mean a vision, a mission, core values, yearly and quarterly objectives.
Your employees don't just want to do a job and get paid. They want to feel a sense of belonging and purpose. They want to know they are contributing to the success of your business. They're as growth-minded as you are. They just can't utilise that mindset without access to the strategy that's sat in your head.
It doesn't need to be complicated. Check out the free template we've created below to start getting your head onto paper. Remember, 'done is better than perfect.
P.s. there's a separate post on writing your vision available here
If you do: You and your team will know what makes each other tick and maintain high levels of motivation.
If you don't: You won't know what makes people tick. You risk low levels of motivation and unnecessarily high turnover.
Picture your business as a professional athletics team. You've just had the world champion shot-putter join your team. You don't ask her why she's here or do any testing to establish what she's good at. You stick into the 800m run position on the team and manage them on their performance.
What do you end up with? A world champion feeling like they are useless.
An extreme example but having excellent people in roles that aren't suited to their strengths or fulfilling their motivators is a prevalent problem in small businesses.
Every single person on this planet has a unique set of strengths and motivators. This has been essential for our survival and development as a race, and it's essential to the high performance of a business team. When your people can utilise their natural stregnths and fulfil their motivators through work, you'll have a superstar team that grow your business.
The challenge we face in modern-day life is that society teaches us, from a young age, to suppress who we are to fit in. Simply put, many business owners and their employees don't know what their strengths and motivators are (the shot-putter hasn't tried shot put). For people to have the energy and motivation to create a growth-mindset culture, they need to utilise their strengths and motivators.
Einstein is referenced for saying, "Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life that it is stupid."
Every person on your team has the capacity and desire to thrive. If they're not, figure out what's going wrong and work with them to address it.
A power profile helps people learn their top 5 strengths and highest motivators. It tells them on a page what they're naturally good at and what makes them tick.
Having this information, a business and its employees can focus on what they need to do and not do to feel optimal.
These profiles also enable the business and employees to track their motivation levels throughout the year, so issues can be spotted and addressed before they turn into preventable resignations.
Again this nurtures a growth-mindset culture. It shows your employees you're serious about their development and provides everyone with a foundation for continuous development.
Involve Your Team in Objectives
If you do: Your team will feel like a part of the big picture. They'll contribute more and be more motivated.
If you don't: Your team will feel like they're just doing a job, you'll have to make all the decisions, you limit innovation, and they'll resist all change.
Remember, many business owners face the infuriating challenge of their teams not buying into and resisting new ideas. A sure-fire way to get your team brought into ideas is to get them involved in the ideas process.
After the military, I travelled and spent some time working in a warehouse for a fast-growing family-run company in Australia. The business was young, so the systems and processes were still being refined. We had a team of 5 in the warehouse. We loved the company and could see a few key ways in which the warehouse procedures could have been improved to save time and increase efficiency. Although we could see what needed to change, we never got asked.
One day the owners brought in a warehouse efficiency specialist for two days. They paid an astronomical amount for his time. Quite a few warehouse team members felt disgruntled because they felt their opinions and insights had been skipped. A few weeks after the specialist had visited, a few changes were implemented, most of which the team had previously thought of. They took the changes on but not in a very enthusiastic way and dragged their feet a bit on the implementation (not me, of course😉).
If the owners had simply asked the team, they would have got the same outcomes and a much more efficient uptake with the new changes. Even if they hadn't got the insights they needed by asking, they would have made their team feel more valued and benefited from the increased productivity and retention.
If that story doesn't convince you on the importance of involving your team in objectives, this might. A mentor of ours recently sold the furniture brand he built from the ground up for 7 figures. He told us that THE MOST profitable thing he ever did in his business was get his entire team together quarterly to set objectives in line with the businesses yearly objectives.
At Better Happy, we recommend using the Objectives Key Results method to do this. We'll create a separate blog on this, but there are tons of free resources available on the internet. When every member of your team is involved in quarterly planning and creating their own objectives, a lack of motivation and enthusiasm becomes a thing of the past.
If you do - Your staff will constantly develop, feel invested in and become growth-minded.
If you don't - Your staff won't feel stretched. They'll become stagnant, go what's required of them and probably leave.
The well-known quote goes, 'If you're not growing, you're dying.' At Better Happy, we believe it's 'If you're not growing, you're unhappy.'
I recently visited a bird of prey rescue centre. One of the guides informed us that the birds in captivity live an average of 20% longer than their wild counterparts. I looked at these birds chained to their stands in cages and thought, who's happier? These birds having their food brought to them and living longer or their ancestors in the wild, living free lives but shorter.
What does this have to do with businesses, employees and growth mindset?
Again, for hundreds of thousands, we've survived and thrived by pushing and stretching ourselves. But we've also survived by being lazy and conserving energy when we had the rare opportunity to do so. So we're wired to feel good when we're being developed but to be lazy when the opportunity presents itself. The problem is modern life is like the bird rescue centre. We can make our lives extremely comfortable, and it's human nature to do so, even though by doing so excessively, we make ourselves unhappy.
Business owners don't settle for this. They are more self-motivated than most, and even though they have the opportunity to just be comfortable, they don't. The same might not be true for all of your employees, especially if you create a culture that allows this. Many small business owners don't want to put any pressure on their staff, so they let them get on with their job and don't coach or stretch them. They think they're doing the right thing, and it feels like a slap in the face when that person resigns because they fancy a new challenge.
Having a minimum of a quarterly check-in coaching process is the way to prevent this from happening and charge that growth-minded culture. It might feel like an effort at the beginning, there might be some initial resistance, but very quickly, this will pay dividends.
At Better Happy, we emphasise coaching instead of managing and have created a structured Personal Development Plan small business owners can use to facilitate these sessions. To simplify this process, you and your team member work through three stages together:
1 - A check in on their personal life to show you have an interest in the whole of them
2 - Professional review and feedback (up and down)
3 - Personal and professional goals for the next quarter
Imagine how it will feel for each of your employees when, as a part of their job, 4 times a year, you or your leadership team check in on their personal lives, help with their professional and personal development.
It's another win-win situation that will pay dividends in your business through your people. Don't you like the thought of doing all those check-in sessions? No problem, it doesn't have to be you. Use our template and train someone else on your team to do it.
When you have these five steps in place being implemented well, it's virtually impossible not to have a positive growth-minded culture and high-performance team in your business. If you have a business model that works, putting these steps in place will ensure you have the team that run and grow that model for you.
Businesses thrive through people. The better you get at looking after and understanding people, the better your business becomes. Get these steps in place, watch that culture grow and make the world a better place.
To download hi-res versions of the assets in the post get access to the Better Happy Business Toolkit Here
About Mike: Mike believes that a structured pathway to health and happiness is the solution to individual, business and global challenges. Mike was never made to feel good in the schooling system, experienced poor management in military and burn out in his first business. Seeing these problems were widespread Mike Co-Founded Better Happy to help other business owners and employees achieve their visions faster with health and happines.