How To Unlock Growth At Workplace

How To Unlock Growth At Workplace

Organisations must take a look at how the pandemic has affected workplace and move to adapt to a new work environment and culture.

The context and the work environment in which we operate today have changed drastically due to the sudden advent of COVID-19. This has altered how we think and do our jobs. There is no doubt that individuals have subconsciously adapted to the new work environment. For a sustained competitive advantage for an organisation, it is the ingenuity, creativity, and resilience of human beings that is imperative for inclusive growth. Thus, it is these interconnections and investments in unique human attributes that differentiate a successful organisation from the other.


This article explores the following:


1. The work environment studied through a small experiment to:


    a. Understand the drivers and motivation of people’s behaviour


    b. Understand the leadership style that people look for


    c. Know the level of direction and engagement that people anticipate in facing a work situation.


2. What is a growth mindset and the reasons why we should encourage and adopt it?


We ran a small experiment to identify and assess how people react and respond to real-life situations at the workplace.


For ease of comprehension, we have divided the group of people into three colours with distinct attributes. Details as below:


BLUE                 The Initiators


GREEN              The Executers


YELLOW          The Observers


One fine morning, the Blues took the lead in organising an impromptu get-together on the floor to acknowledge and appreciate the promotees. The first task at hand was to put up the names of all those who have been promoted on a whiteboard. The names of some of the promotees were solicited from random people on the floor. The Blues took charge to call out the names and also write them on the board. The Greens at first waited and then followed suit. The Yellows seemed confused trying to wrap their head around what was going on.


All clusters did come together as the names of the promotees were announced. There was a feeling of joy. It was then decided to regroup in the evening and organise a party for the following Friday.


The Yellows perceived that the celebration was only for other clusters and waited for an invitation. They felt non-included and uninvited. It took a Blue to reach out to them and invite them.


The board was re-fixed with additional names. The Greens, who now had some clarity on the task to be performed in the evening, joined hands with the Blues to prepare for the celebrations.


The evening celebration was slightly different from the morning. The key difference was that people were aware of what is happening, and a new individual was given the responsibility to become the master of ceremonies. The master of the ceremony took charge as he felt empowered to run and manage it. This time the Blues, Greens, and Yellows felt included and a part of the celebrations.


The  Blues again chose five random people to be a part of the organising committee for the party on Friday. It comprised of three promotees and two non- promotees. With the task clearly defined, some of them took charge and decided to run the show. It seemed as if managing an event was their forte. The party witnessed increased participation from the Blues, Greens, and Yellows.


The aforesaid behaviours can be explained by the ‘bystander apathy effect’ which is a well-established phenomenon in social psychology.  In simple words, this study, rooted in empirical research, states that the presence of others has an inhibiting influence on an individual’s willingness to help someone in need. This is called Diffusion of responsibility. Another theoretical account of ‘bystander intervention finding’ is Social influence and pluralistic ignorance. This explains that people look to others to evaluate an emergency. If others are just standing and appear calm, then the ‘would-be’ helpers infer that perhaps the situation is not an emergency. Peter Fisher and his colleagues looked at all studies done on the ‘bystander effect’ through meta-analytic synthesis. It concluded that while the bystander effect is prevalent, there is one little thing that can help shift from the bystander effect to the ‘helper’ effect – calling out one person from the crowd for help. By doing this, people are more likely to come forward and help the person in need.


In the experiment above, the first reaction of Greens and Yellows to activity happening on the floor can be classified as ‘bystander effect’. It took someone from the group, Blue, in this case, to call out people from the group for participation. This led to Green joining hands with Blue. Further breaking down action and tasks made it possible for Yellows to join and participate as well.


To sum up, the below chart spells out the representative behaviours observed in the aforesaid situation.




The representative behaviours can help team leaders to manage their teams by:


1. Identifying the team members as ‘Blue’, ‘Green’, and ‘Yellow’. It is important to bear in mind that this is not a tool for ‘categorising’ individuals; the same individual could respond differently to different situations and may behave as ‘Blue’ in one and as ‘Green/Yellow’ in another.


2. Once the predominant behaviours are identified by the team leaders, a team leader must provide a level playing field to everyone. How can a team leader do that? By knowing about the clusters/biases that may exist in a team and playing an active role in breaking them down


3. Team leader must realise that it is not necessarily incumbent on him/her to define the task; anyone on the team can do that. However, a team leader must articulate (reiterate, when required) the context or the ‘why’ of the task at hand so that the team can focus on performing well and deliver results.


The change in the work environment due to the pandemic has only accentuated the aforesaid role of a team leader.


Reasons why we should encourage and adopt a growth mindset:


The above section is about the need for team leaders to be cognizant of the group environment that influences individual behaviours. It is these individual capabilities coupled with the ingenuity of team leaders that lays the foundation for growth.


For organisations to realise their growth agenda, adopting and realising growth mindset holds the key.


Research has repeatedly shown that a growth mindset fosters:

Questions for organisations to consider in realising a growth mindset

A healthier attitude towards practice and learning


Do learning and development programs focus on practical learning or teaching in a virtual classroom?

A hunger for feedback

Which is more important – the ‘what’ or the ‘how’ of feedback or both?

A greater ability to deal with setbacks

Is the learning from failure being spoken and discussed?

Significantly better performance over time


Is performance evaluated relatively or is it individual-based?


Research has repeatedly shown that a growth mindset fosters:


• A healthier attitude towards practice and learning


• A hunger for feedback


• A greater ability to deal with setbacks


• Significantly better performance over time


Questions for organisations to consider in realising a growth mindset:


• Do learning and development programs focus on practical learning or teaching in a virtual classroom?


• Which is more important – the ‘what’ or the ‘how’ of feedback or both?


• Are the learnings from failure being spoken and discussed?


• Is performance evaluated relatively or is it individual-based?




Organisations that are on the path to a growth mindset must view it as a transformational process involving a series of related interventions over a period. It is not a one-time change initiative. At an organisational level, a growth mindset fosters better collaboration, values passion, considers skills as acquirable and not simply a natural talent.




Shruti Babbar is currently managing total rewards and performance management at EY. She has more than a decade's experience in creating and driving talent strategies best aligned to the business needs. Over these years, she has adorned multiple roles in HR. Shruti holds a master's degree in HR from the London School of Economics.


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