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  • Writer's pictureJanice Otremba

Cultivating a Growth Environment

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Recent developments in my own work-life have got me thinking about the ways in which I am cultivating an environment where we can develop our skills, step outside of our comfort zones and grow despite any setbacks that are thrown our way.

A very recent and very major migration of my One Drive files had all the promise of a more streamlined and efficient process for work and file-sharing for my business. As an entrepreneur, I put a lot of faith in a lot of different people and the universe as a whole, and as fate would have it, the stars did not align. Missing and corrupt files, constantly extended migration times, quadruple the calls to IT had me wondering if I should have just left the band-aid on the wound instead of ripping it off like I did. But those of you who know me, know that I tend to jump into the deep end with or without water wings!

All these setbacks caught me off-guard and presented unexpected challenges; like me pulling my hair out and crying one day (cue tiny violin). However, once I stepped back, I recognized this as an opportunity to not only foster a growth mindset but also cultivate a growth environment within my own business. I took time to reflect on the situation, acknowledging that change is an integral part of growth. By reframing the migration as a chance to adapt, learn and improve our processes, I encouraged my team to embrace the shift and view it as a steppingstone toward progress. This mindset shift allowed us to approach The (with a capital T) migration with enthusiasm, resilience, and willingness to acquire new skills. And these are the steps I took to get there:

1. Foster Psychological Safety:

Psychological Safety is the foundation of a growth environment. Ensure that individuals feel safe to take risks, make mistakes and share their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgement or negative consequences. Encourage open communication, active listening, and empathy among team members. When people feel safe, they are more likely to step out of their comfort zones and embrace opportunities for growth.

2. Provide Opportunities for Learning and Development:

Offer a range of opportunities for learning and development within the environment (your organization or even your home). This could include workshops, training programs, mentorship initiatives, conferences, or access to online learning resources. Create space for individuals to identify their learning goals and provide support to help them achieve those goals. By investing in continuous learning, you demonstrate a commitment to growth and encourage others to do the same. For those of you who have taken the SDI 2.0, when was the last time you visited your portal to check in with yourself? Are you leaning into overdone strengths and slipping back into old patterns?

3. Encourage Reflective Practices:

Reflection is a powerful tool for growth. Lead by example and set the tone for individuals to regularly reflect on their experiences, both successes and failures, and identify lessons learned and areas for improvement. Provide dedicated time and space for reflections, such as team discussions or individual journaling. By encouraging reflection, you help individuals extract meaning from their experiences and promote a growth-oriented mindset. Acknowledge those wins! I mean really, truly sit with it and take in where you are and how far you have come. Own it and acknowledge it before moving on to the next thing.

4. Promote Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing:

Create opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing among individuals. Encourage cross-functional projects, group discussions, and brainstorming sessions. Foster an environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their expertise AND learning from others. Collaboration not only enhances learning but also strengthens relationships and fosters a collective growth mindset. According to me, true collaboration is agenda-free!

5. Celebrate Effort and Progress:

Shift the focus from only celebrating outcomes to also acknowledging and appreciating effort and progress. Recognize individuals who demonstrate a commitment to growth, resilience in the face of challenges, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Celebrate milestones and small victories along the way, as these contribute to the overall growth journey.

6. Lead by Example:

Leaders and influencers within the environment play a crucial role in shaping the culture. Model a growth mindset by openly sharing your own learning experiences, challenges, and growth stories. Demonstrate a willingness to seek feedback, embrace change, and continuously develop your own skills. When leaders embody a growth mindset, it creates a ripple effect throughout the environment and encourages others to do the same.

7. Provide Constructive Feedback/Feedforward:

Feedback is an essential element of growth. Fostering a feedback culture that focuses on constructive and specific feedback, highlighting areas for improvement and growth opportunities. Encourage regular feedback exchanges among team members and provide guidance on how to give and receive feedback effectively. When feedback is delivered with the intention of growth, it becomes a valuable tool for individual development. And often the way to do this best, is to take a “feed forward” approach. Instead of always reflecting by “feeding back” on what went wrong, we could “feed forward” and share what we would like to see going forward. Rather than always re-hashing errors in “feedback” sessions, try a “feedforward” approach by setting the intention and provide examples of the path that should be followed so people know what to look for in the future.

Even though the migration is ongoing and not without it pain points, activating the above-mentioned principles has created an environment which allows my team and I to forge ahead and still get the hard work done without getting bogged down in what didn’t go as planned. Fertilize, water, love and repeat. And you know what, everything that went wrong couldn’t have happened at a better time. I have been in the midst of my own migration (moving homes) so I will chalk that up to a silver lining! My calendar just happened to be open for us to work out the kinks, which we will, so I still have something to be grateful for – oh look, a seed sprouting!

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