How To Create A Growth Culture

Creating and sustaining growth culture requires coordinated diligence; employees must clearly understand the end goal and have the ability reference a core framework to achieve success.  

Schwartz details in his HBR article, “Create a Growth Culture, Not a Performance Obsessed One”, four necessities for successful implementation and continuation of growth culture:

  1. An environment that feels safe, fueled first by top by leaders willing to role model vulnerability and take personal responsibility for their shortcomings and missteps.
  2. A focus on continuous learning through inquiry, curiosity and transparency, in place of judgment, certainty and self-protection.
  3. Time-limited, manageable experiments with new behaviors in order to test our unconscious assumption that changing the status quo is dangerous and likely to have negative consequences.
  4. Continuous feedback – up, down and across the organization – grounded in a shared commitment to helping each other grow and get better.

Our team is uniquely positioned to support growth culture conversion: both growth culture and DevelapMe pursue the end goal of empowering employees to increase performance, and both share overlapping cornerstones.  Each can be implemented successfully in isolation, but when combined, they create a mutually reinforcing positive cycle of continuous improvement. DevelapMe serves as an invaluable tool to implement and sustain growth culture, and growth culture employees will reap the greatest benefits from DevelapMe.  

Creating an environment of safety and vulnerability is integral to enjoying the rewards learning, experimentation, and feedback yield. Employees should feel encouraged to extend themselves and continually look to add value, regardless of whether or not their ideas directly connect to their typical job duties.  Long term focus is key: learning and experimentation often necessitate initial setbacks or struggles. However, if both firm and employee must capitalize on these situations, treating them as opportunities for learning instead of condemning them as failures, they will yield major rewards. Cultivating a culture of safety and trust that emphasizes continuous learning inspires employees to creatively embrace challenges instead of feeling overwhelmed or constrained.  

Cultivating a culture of safety and trust that emphasizes continuous learning inspires employees to creatively embrace challenges instead of feeling overwhelmed or constrained.  

A safe environment is essential for facilitating the free flow of honest feedback to unleash the full benefits of DevelapMe. Schwartz explains that in a growth culture people build their capacity to see through blind spots; acknowledge insecurities and shortcomings rather than unconsciously acting them out; and spend less energy defending their personal value so they have more energy available to create external value.  Organizations are plagued by employees deflecting blame, avoiding issues, or hiding mistakes because they fear consequences. Owning and embracing mistakes allows for immediate resolution of problems. Once employees feel supported and secure, they can examine root causes of issues, develop best practices, and consult peers to improve.

One of the greatest challenges our team experiences when introducing DevelapMe to organizations is debunking perceptions regarding constructive feedback.  Our team works diligently to dispel false connotations surrounding constructive advice.  Employees tend to equate constructive with critical, consequently missing out on invaluable insights. In reality, constructive feedback prompts dramatic, sustained growth.  We have found excellent employees actively seek out and provide constructive feedback, learning where to improve and how to attain their professional goals.  Front-line employees must feel comfortable providing their superiors with critical insights and honest appraisals for growth to occur. Organizational feedback is often overly-friendly initially  – employees are afraid any element of critique or advice will be taken as a slight.

Growth culture emphasizes holistic development of employees, creating an environment which values long-term viability and overall success.  As evidenced by the fruits of “20% time,” employees are incredibly knowledgeable regarding the details of your business and provide an incredible source of creative energy. They are instrumental in creating major successes and experience the brunt of organizational pain points.  Focusing on growth involves developing all employees to achieve their respective potentials. Properly implemented, growth culture creates a company of actualized employees. Ultimately, you get what you put into an employee: prioritizing growth and personal development increases engagement, retention, and employee effectiveness.  

A growth culture is not for the weak, but for those that have the strength it is transformational.  We challenge you to explore whether growth culture can take your company to the next level.