Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

What Is the Best Mindset to Bring to Work

February 8th, 2010 | Bob Rosner

Image: Bob RosnerLast time I discussed the top “mindsets” that we bring to work. For those of you who like things defined, here goes—mindset is “a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.”

Most of us bring some “habits” to work on a regular basis. After doing a lot of interviews and research, I came up with five. What I like to call the 5 M’s. Machine, military, motivation, measurement and entrepreneurship (okay, that’s not an “M” word. I put it in because that is one of the problems with mindsets, they tend to lock us in to a limited way of viewing the world).

According to your votes, the mindset that you most often bring to work is machine. 35% of you chose it. Next was military with 27%. Followed by motivation, the choice of 17%. Measurement, 15%, and entrepreneurship at 6%.

Each of these mindsets served a purpose at one time. The problem is that they tend to live on long past the point they continue to provide value. Take the top response, machine. A smooth running machine is a very effective way to run a business. The problem? Machines don’t do so well when it comes to creativity and initiative. And those are two things that most businesses can’t do without today.

In addition, all of the mindsets share two basic problems. First, they tend to struggle when it comes to handling complexity. A new competitor, a worker shortage or a lawsuit against your company aren’t things that any of the 5 Ms can really cope with. The problem is that today’s workplace is all about complexity.

But there is an even bigger problem—control. All of these mindsets do best when there is a heavy hand running the show. And that heavy hand may have helped 60 years ago to make the trains run on time, but today many businesses are starting to realize that the brains of their people are a terrible thing to waste. So rather than trying to produce a certain result from people, more organizations are realizing they have to create a place where the best efforts can flow out of people.

So we need to develop a new mindset, one that gives more control to the people who actually do the work. Not for some soft headed share the wealth idea, but because organizations need to extract everything they can from their people’s hands, heads and hearts (okay, that will be the last bit of alliteration for this column).

Ultimately I’m not going to try to sell you on exactly what new mindset to adopt. My point is simply that we need to become more aware of the mindset we bring to work each day. And not forget the creativity and control as we go along our journey at work. Just realizing this should help us all to better navigate our workday more successfully.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out his newly revised best-seller “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]

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