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How to Instill a Growth Mindset in Your Team

Personal Growth
Company Culture
Career Path

1 June, 2021

Hilfi Alkaff
Hilfi Alkaff

CTO at OY! Indonesia

Hilfi Alkaff, Co-Founder and CTO at OY! Indonesia, outlines key actions that he took to instill a growth mindset in his team, thus ensuring their continuous improvement.

Problem

OY! is one of the leading fintech organizations in the region that enables businesses and individuals to send and receive money simply, swiftly and securely. The payment landscape in Indonesia is full of opportunities, but one needs to be adaptable, nimble, and astute to be up for that challenge. Without having a growth mindset, people won’t be able to catch up with the ever-changing fast pace of the payment landscape.

Furthermore, much like anywhere else, engineering talent is scarce. Therefore, we need to make sure to utilize the best of the existing talent and help them on their continuous improvement journey. As an organization, we want to be as lean as possible and make the most decisive impact that will keep us at the top of the game. That is why instilling and nurturing a growth mindset organization-wide is critical for our success.

Actions taken

From the start I understood that a high-level mindset shift could only happen through a series of tactical-level actions. So we tried introducing a number of processes, some of which were more successful than the others, which nevertheless served as a great learning opportunity.

One of the things that didn’t work out was starting out a book reading club. We would agree on a book which we would discuss in the weeks to come, and then everyone would read a chapter over a week's time on their own. After that, we would meet up to discuss the book, but as it turned out, most people weren’t interested in that specific chapter/book, or they couldn’t carve out time during the week to focus on reading. As a result, our discussions were not as fruitful and engaging as we expected, and after a while, we decided to cease this initiative. However, it helped us better understand different preferences people on the team had, resulting in the launch of a personalized growth plan.

A personal growth plan is a tailor-made plan created by a reportee and manager, consisting of long-term aspirations and short-term goals. Reading a book and discussing it with a manager could be one of the short-term goals, for example. But, the main advantage of a personal growth plan was that it connected and translated long-term aspirations into day-to-day work. As a result, people became more aware of how their daily work contributed to their careers and personal growth.

With the pandemic coming in, we went remote, which made the spontaneous interaction and knowledge sharing between senior and junior engineers more difficult. Therefore, we created a virtual office hours program and handpicked a couple of senior individual contributors interested in dedicating their weekly time to facilitate virtual office hours. They would block time in their calendars, adding topics which they would be teaching to juniors who could book any available slot. All the sessions would be visible in Google Calendar, and we would encourage junior engineers to use this unique opportunity to connect with senior engineers and improve their skills.

Lessons learned

  • Mindset change takes a significant amount of time. You should be prepared to repeat and reinforce the key concepts and model expected behaviors. You should believe in the network effect; otherwise, you may be puzzled about instilling that mindset change in 40 people. Because, unlike the scaling of a team, scaling of a mindset is something entirely different that happens at its own pace.
  • Identify key people to be the first to buy in the growth mindset and serve as ambassadors, further promoting the idea to their peers.
  • While the reading book club didn’t meet our expectations, I was nevertheless eager to recommend some books. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo is an excellent read to prepare your reports for the next step in their careers. Also, I encouraged my reports to join the Rand Leadership Slack channel, very popular among EMs, started by Michael Lopp, an inspiring tech leader who is never short of new ideas. It is very neatly organized -- from management and soft skills discussions to more concrete, hands-on technical issues.

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