Your employee offboarding process can make or break your employee relationships. Do you know how to make a positive, lasting impression on your departing employees?

Explaining the Employee Offboarding Process

Offboarding is the process of formal separation between an employee and employer due to resignation, termination, or retirement. Offboarding includes several exit formalities processes to ensure the employee leaves on good terms, including:

  • Transferring employee’s responsibilities to another employee or team
  • Receiving employee equipment (laptop, ID badge, desktop)
  • Completing an exit interview to receive feedback
  • Deactivating employee building and system access and passwords

You want to make sure the person has a positive experience with your employee offboarding process, so they feel valued and understood in their exit process. This is your employee’s last impression of you, so you need to make it a good one, even if you’ve terminated the employee.

Remember, past employees are sometimes future employees, so you want them to have a positive experience. Keep in mind that nearly 15% of American employees boomerang back to an old employer later on.

Offboarding also gives your company the chance to learn how it can improve, what it does well, and what to look for in new hires.

This entire procedure can benefit both you and the employee—you get to learn more about your business, and they have a good, lasting impression of their time with your company.

Your Offboarding Guide

Follow this step-by-step offboarding guide if you’re still developing your offboarding process or don’t know where to start. 

Always Thank the Employee

Whether you’re terminating an employee or they’ve resigned, always thank them for their hard work and everything they’ve done for the company. You want them to feel appreciated even if their departure is sudden or unexpected.

If your employee is retiring or moving to a higher position, congratulate them! Recognize that what they’ve done for your organization has been valuable and that you’re proud of their accomplishments.

Communicate the Departure to Other Employees and HR

While telling your staff one of their team members is leaving is difficult, it’s better to do it early on. Waiting can make the process harder for your team and can lead to gossip.

To maintain a healthy, gossip-free work environment, professionally inform your staff of the employee’s leaving. If you’ve terminated the employee, you don’t need to give your team all the details—tell them the necessary information. Keep private information between you and the departing employee.

Transfer Employee Responsibilities and Knowledge

Simplify your employee offboarding process by transferring the departing employee’s responsibilities and knowledge to other members of the team. Doing so prepares your employees for the loss of a team member so daily operations continue to run smoothly.

Prepare your team members by:

  • Giving them a breakdown of daily routines
  • Informing them of high and low-priority tasks
  • Giving them access to the systems and information the previous employee used
  • Training them thoroughly on their new responsibilities
  • Familiarizing them with the team members they’ll be working with

Recover Company Equipment and Revoke Access

Besides ensuring your team is prepared for their new tasks and the departing employee leaves on good terms, a couple of logistical aspects need to be taken care of.

Always recover the employee’s company equipment, including:

  • Company ID badge
  • Company credit cards
  • Company-issued uniforms
  • Laptops, desktops, and other tech equipment
  • Company car

These assets are vital to your business, so make sure you receive all of the employee’s company belongings.

For your safety and the security of your employees, always revoke their building and system access. Leaving access open allows old employees to view data and information that is no longer relevant to them, which can be a cybersecurity risk.

Complete an Exit Interview

Exit interviews give you and the employee space to share your thoughts and ideas. HR should conduct these interviews since employees sometimes leave because of their manager.

Detailed exit interview questions are helpful for your business because your departing employee may offer valuable insight on where the business can improve and how the business succeeds. 

This is your chance to make a positive impression on the employee, so it’s important to take their feedback seriously and graciously.

Employee Offboarding Process Resources

If you need help improving your employee offboarding process, call AAIM.

AAIM is your all-inclusive HR resource provider, and we enhance your processes to improve the employee offboarding experience.

Offboarding is tricky—you don’t want to overstep the boundaries of your departing employee, but you also want their honest feedback. AAIM helps you find the balance. Contact us today to advance your employee offboarding processes.

If you’ve applied for a job in the last 10 years, you’ve probably come across an ATS, or Applicant Tracking System. It’s software that allows candidates to apply for jobs through an online platform, while giving employers a quick and easy way to manage job postings and track applicants for those positions. In short, they help recruiters filter resumes. To have the best chance at snagging the job you want, it’s good to understand how these ATS platforms function. In a market where many highly qualified applicants are looking for work, job-seekers need to stay ahead of the game. Here’s how to do it.

How Does Our ATS System Work?

AAIM Employers’ Association provides an ATS system to their employer members with three distinct functions: a Job Dashboard, an Applicant Dashboard, and a Reporting Section. The Job Dashboard gets open position information out to candidates as efficiently as possible. The posting process to job boards is integrated within, providing a streamlined step-by-step process that includes qualifier questions for initial screening and basic position parameters. The result is what the applicant will see when they look for job openings on various job sites. The application is built into the system to make it easier for job seekers to apply.

Employers create their job ad through the ATS system, populating information such as the job description, pay range, benefits, and location information. When the job ad is saved, it automatically initiates a process to post the position to not only well-known job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor, but also thousands of others, including state unemployment sites, diversity-centric boards, and college/university websites. The upside for employers? A process that used to take two hours or more to complete now takes 20 minutes or less!

ATS platforms also help employers by providing an Applicant Dashboard—a centralized system of viewing and tracking applicants that apply for various open positions. As candidates apply, employers can view their application/resume information directly from the system. With all applicants in one place, it creates an easy way to make notes, communicate with them, and create side-by-side comparisons between candidates. These tools are especially helpful for employers that have multiple people involved in the recruiting and hiring processes.

How Do Candidates Use an ATS System?

If you’re a qualified candidate looking for positions on job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, and so on, you have the option to create a profile within the site in order to “Easy Apply” for jobs, which essentially allows job seekers to apply with one click. With all the competition in the current post-COVID-19 job market, being able to jump on an opportunity is a crucial element.

While the “Easy Apply” button does, in fact, make it easier to apply, there are a few critical items that candidates need to be aware of in the process. First, while many employers have taken the stance of gathering a resume initially and inviting the candidate to supply further information later in the process, others require a full, completed application right out of the gate. When building a profile on a job board, include as much information as you can. Resist the temptation to write “Please see resume” into the job application field, as there are often grant programs or government funding that require employers to have full and complete application information. This is especially true if you’re interested in or looking for work in an industry that is highly regulated or would use these funding sources.

Second, double check and thoroughly read the description of the position for which you want to apply. Some employers may require follow-up steps or action items that could delay processing of your application if not supplied. Similarly, there may be information about checking on the status of an application- the do’s and don’ts, if you will. Being mindful of the requirements outlined by the employer is a step toward making a great first impression!

Third, be mindful of keywords included in the job description and make sure those keywords appear in your resume. While the employer may be placing keywords in the description to make it more search-friendly for an applicant, words are also searchable with the ATS itself. An employer can execute a keyword search of their applicant pool (i.e., sales or HR), and a report is generated that lists individuals who have those terms on their application/resume. Other systems have artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will screen the job application/resume for the preset keywords and place those applicants into a qualified applicant pool to be viewed first. This is called pre-screening. The same pre-screening can happen through a list of questions based on the minimum requirements for the position. But don’t let this discourage you! You should always submit a complete application, as your information is still being supplied to the employer for future potential and recruiting processes.

Take Advantage of Our Applicant Tracking System

While applying for jobs can seem like a complicated process, ATS platforms can make candidates’ and employers’ lives easier by saving valuable time and resources. So, if you’re searching for a job, get that resume ready and give yourself a leg up in the process with our tips!
Our applicant tracking system (AAIMTrack) and background screening service (AAIMCheck) is an integrated HR technology solution. It is efficient. It is scalable. And, all with one click! Combining ONBOARDEXP with AAIMTrack and AAIMCheck provides your HR/talent acquisition team with a fully integrated recruiting-hiring-onboarding process. This powerful solution allows you to streamline your entire hiring process and gives your organization the best chance at meeting all of your staffing needs!

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, many employers are left with questions about how to prepare for coronavirus while preparing for the possibility of remote work, quarantines, temporary business closures and/or other challenges. With many businesses forced planning for various contingency situations, AAIM Employers’ Association CEO, Phil Brandt facilitated a live-webinar on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 with legal expert, Burt Garland, Attorney & Partner with Ogletree Deakins & medical expert, Dr. Alexander Garza, MD, Chief Medical Officer of SSM Health.

Here are just a few of the concerns we addressed during the webinar:
  • Can proof of a negative coronavirus result be required before allowing an employee in self-quarantine to return to work?
  • How should employers handle an employee who may have been exposed to the virus?
  • If an employee contracts the virus at work, should it be treated as workers’ compensation?
  • What options are there when an employee refuses to self-quarantine after returning from a personal trip to a level three country?
AAIM members with an AAIM University login can access the webinar recording here.
If you do not have an AAIM University login, you can watch the recording on the website here.

The rise of technology and the shift of the generational wants and needs in the workplace have likely caused your role in the workplace to change drastically in the past decade. These shifts in people and processes will probably continue for the foreseeable future. The good news is that we’re able to educate ourselves more quickly and easily than ever before. New technology and online resources are endless for education and professional development, but there is incredible value in collaborating and learning in-person from your peers.

There are many great ways to learn from peers, including:

  • Roundtables
  • Networking
  • Mentoring programs


Roundtables offer a way to connect with peers and see different viewpoints that you don’t get in an office environment, especially in a small organization. This is an opportunity for you to hear fresh ideas in a safe space by posing questions to a community of professionals work in your field and who are experiencing similar challenges. Who better to see the value in your role and relate to your challenges and needs than your peers?

Roundtables are also great ways to gather and weigh opinions. Someone is bound to disagree or have a varying perspective; the important part is to find a common interest and have a genuine discussion. Part of the experience is respecting other opinions and not feeling pressured to reach a conclusion right away. Realistically, not all parties will agree when having an open-ended discussion and some ideas may not work for some industries. However, listening to each other’s experiences and suggestions allows you to gain new information to apply to your role or company as you see fit. The goal of a roundtable is to let your mind be open and free of preconceptions, leaving judgements and egos at the door. Sharing best practices and lessons learned is a powerful learning opportunity!


Networking is another great way to get to know others in similar roles from different companies and industries. Whether you want to exchange ideas, share information, or make a connection that leads to a future career change, networking opportunities such as professional society meetings are extremely beneficial. When attending an event, set goals for yourself both personally and professionally that are beyond just swapping business cards. Depending on your goals, you may want to do some research and come with prepared questions for companies in attendance. The key is finding the right setting that works for you to network and build meaningful relationships. Remember to be your authentic self and try to attend regularly.

Mentoring Programs

Mentoring can be as formal or informal as you make it. There are various mentoring opportunities available through professional groups, societies, universities, and college alumni services. Moreover, if there’s someone that you admire and want to learn from, don’t be afraid to ask if they would be open to advise you. Another option would be a mentoring program through your company.  If your organization doesn’t already have one, consider starting a program for new hires or newly promoted employees in your company. This fosters a safe environment for learning, exploring weaknesses, and encouraging employees to be comfortable with asking questions.

Whether it’s through roundtables, networking, or mentoring programs, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing is a valuable method for continued career growth and education. Set aside time to discover what you want/need to support your career and interests and then take the steps to make it happen!

Get to know the members of our AAIM Young Professionals Board. The AAIM Young Professionals program fosters career developmentleadership proficiencies, and relationship-building of passionate and high-potential young professionals in the St. Louis area. Members of the AAIM Young Professionals Board meet regularly to ensure the success of this annual program.

Name: Brittany Shine

Company: National Cart Company

Title: HR Generalist

Tell us a little about yourself, your current job responsibilities, and anything you are involved in that you are passionate about.

My role currently is the HR Generalist at National Cart Company and my job responsibilities range from payroll to filing paperwork. I started at National Cart company as an intern back in 2015 and I have grown so much through experience and having my boss, Andrea Rumfelt, as a great mentor to me. Sometimes being thrown in the fire and seeing how well a young professional works under pressure or trying something new is a good tactic to seeing what an associate is made of! When I was first starting Andrea gave me the task of creating a training about change management to see how well I could manage a big project like that. I have had such a wonderful journey here at National Cart Company and I cannot wait to learn new things every day.

Why did you choose to join the AYP Board?

I had a wonderful experience being involved in the Young Professional program, so when I got the opportunity to be a part of the board, how could I say no? The people I have met through the program have helped me learn and grow as a person and a colleague.

What does it mean to you to be a good leader?

To be a good leader means to lift others up and help them become what they dream of being.

How have you grown (professionally or personally) since joining AYP?

Learning how other companies work and operate helps me to improve processes in my own company. I have learned how to network properly and build relationships by getting out of my comfort zone and going to events I normally would not have gone to.

What advice would you give to other Young Professionals just starting out in their professional career?

Don’t overthink things, choose courage over comfort, and speak your mind. Young Professionals have so much to bring to the workplace with different perspectives and ideas on things.

Get to know the members of our AAIM Young Professionals Board. The AAIM Young Professionals program fosters career development, leadership proficiencies, and relationship-building of passionate and high-potential young professionals in the St. Louis area. Members of the AAIM Young Professionals Board meet regularly to ensure the success of this annual program.

  • Kaitlin Bearden
  • Senior Benefits Specialist
  • Lutheran Senior Services

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

Hello, my name is Kaitlin Bearden, and I work on the Employees Benefits side of Human Resources at Lutheran Senior Services. I work with our vendors and HR team regarding medical, pharmacy, spending accounts, wellness and our benefits broker.

Outside of work, what are some of your passions?

I am passionate about community and travel. I love meeting new people, making connections and having those friendships. Travel is very special to me as well, and I find it as life’s biggest teacher. I never come back the same person after traveling. It creates a different perspective on people, life and even myself. I also love trying new things, concerts, restaurants and doing anything new around town.

What led you to join the AYP Board?

I wanted to get involved with the AYP board because I have loved seeing the AYP group grow since I went through the program the first year it started. I loved my journey during the program and still have friends I keep in contact with. I whole heartily support the AYP program and love the great work the team has been doing. It’s a great way to learn from others, develop professionally, learn about community, make connections and network.

How have you grown (professionally or personally) since joining AYP?

The topics discussed during the program played a big role in my professional career. Having others from around the area and engaging together during volunteer opportunities and networking events helped develop my skills and learn from others.

What advice would you give to other Young Professionals just starting out in their professional career?

Absorb as much as you can to diversify your skill set in the beginning of your career. In doing so, this will help you find your niche. Get to know others inside and out of your department and get involved in your community via networking events, vendor meetings and industry meetups. If you can, find a mentor at your company as they are a great resource. Don’t forget you can always change things up!

It’s the most wonderful time of year… but not for everyone. While many are filled with joy and excitement there are many individuals ridden with anxiety and sadness during the holiday season. From financial stress, family and relationship issues, to the pressure to find the perfect gift in a sea of crowds, the list of stressors during this season is endless. This is the time for HR to flex their knowledge by communicating and educating staff during the heightened emotions of the holiday season.

An article in the Harvard Gazette stated that work related stress has negatively affected the economy by $30 billion dollars each year in the United States. So how can you help? If your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), refer employees to this resource first.

Management is often focused on performance, but it is important to train them to recognize poor mental health warning signs that could affect your company’s bottom dollar. This is an opportunity to arm managers with knowledge on how to have those tough conversations with employees and assist them when HR isn’t present or available. Additionally, employers should provide EAP information in easily accessible areas where employees feel comfortable. Organizations can post information to an intranet, send in an email, leave flyers in common areas, or send out mailings.  Also be sure to reinforce the employee’s confidentiality if someone comes to HR or management for EAP information.

Warning Signs of “Holiday Blues”

  • Change in appearance
  • Substance abuse
  • Frequently missing work
  • Lack of participation or engagement
  • Personality changes from their norm

Common Benefits of an EAP

  • Completely confidential
  • 24-hour support
  • Counseling services – substance abuse, stress, grief, financial issues, family problems, mental disorders
  • Referrals and follow-up care

Alternative Options Employers can Provide

  • Encourage volunteering on or off company time
  • Support employees to take time off
  • Allow flex time to accommodate appointments
  • Avoid having major deadlines, if possible, around the holidays
  • Check in on employees you know have experienced grief or loss
  • Provide in-office stress relief; massages, full-spectrum lamps, time with emotional support animals, etc.
  • Cover gym membership costs or a portion

HR’s role during this time is to educate management and employees to be sensitive during the holiday season. Each company has their own unique culture that sets the tone for the holidays. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the holidays at work or talking openly about mental wellness. However, employers do have the responsibility to be inclusive and respectful to all cultures, traditions and to keep an employee’s best interest in mind. In fact, this needs to be remembered throughout the year and not just the holiday season.

We recommend all organizations take some time to look at their company’s culture, policies, and the message being sent to employees in order to help prevent insensitivity and provide a low stress holiday season.

The International Association of Employee Assistance Professionals found that 65% of employers offer EAP benefits, and of companies larger than 5,000 employees, 97% provided EAP assistance.

Though many businesses are spending more money than ever before on cybersecurity, many continue to be woefully unprepared for physical security threats. This doesn’t just apply to the implementation of technology like security cameras or improving access control, either …

Many of today’s inefficiencies are a simple result of the fact that businesses don’t speak with their employees about potential security threats. Like it or not, companies need to be prepared for such incidents, because the risk is more significant than ever before.

For example, FBI data reports that between 2000 and 2013, there was an average of 11.4 active shooter incidents per year. However, 2018 saw 27 active shooter incidents in 16 states — more than double the previous average.

Not all physical security threats are so dramatic, of course. Disgruntled employees can be responsible for theft, sabotage, and disclosure of confidential business information. In fact, research has found that employees are responsible for as much as 80 percent of “damaging incidents” in the workplace, making them a far more likely risk than a cyber-attack.

In light of all this, it is clear that management needs to address these critical issues with their employees and do so in an appropriate way that will help everyone take ownership of their safety and thus, create a force multiplier for the reporting of concerning behavior.

1) Explain Foundational Issues

While active shooter incidents are consistently making headlines, it appears some organizations are burying their heads in the sand. Simply put, some don’t think it could happen to them. Educating employees is the first part of the equation in deterring acts of violence.

Training should start early. New hire orientation should relate the basic facts of workplace violence — including the reminder that harmful behavior also includes psychological and behavioral aspects, not just acts of physical violence.

Teaching employees what risk factors may be present in the office and helping them learn what to look for will ensure that they are more confident to report concerning behavior. Remember, the tone of these trainings shouldn’t be geared toward scaring employees.

Explain things in a matter-of-fact manner so that everyone is on the same page.

2) Establish a Clear Workplace Violence Policy

One of the best ways to alleviate fear — and to ensure that you are fulfilling your responsibility of providing a safe workplace — is to implement a clear workplace violence policy. During the same training meetings when you go over the foundational aspects of workplace violence, you should also review your company’s policies.

Workplace violence policies should have a zero-tolerance attitude towards acts of physical violence, threatening remarks, intentional damage of property, sexual harassment, and bringing weapons into the office. The consequences of such actions should be made clear to all employees.

When going over your company’s workplace violence policy, you should also communicate the physical security procedures that your company is implementing (such as regular security assessments and ongoing security policy review) to mitigate risk.

3) Help Employees Feel Safe When Reporting Issues

Because many incidents of workplace violence are the result of an internal threat, no workplace violence policy is complete without a clearly defined reporting procedure. Help employees understand that they have an obligation to report problematic behaviors to management to protect the well-being of everyone in the company.

Some employees fail to report dangerous behavior due to fear of repercussions from management or the individual they are reporting. HR should allow for anonymous reporting while also committing to follow through and investigate any reported issues. Allowing for multiple anonymous reporting methods, such as tip lines or a comment box, can further alleviate these concerns.

When employees have confidence that they will be safe when reporting a potential concern, they will be more likely to report, which will better position your team to mitigate a threat.

4) Educate Your Team About Problematic Behaviors

Everyone in your organization, from supervisors to lower-level employees, should receive training that will help them better recognize concerning behaviors. Changes in behavior, disrespect for authority, declining work performance, verbal threats, suicidal comments, weapon possession, and other aggressive actions could all indicate the potential for workplace violence.

Employees should be taught how to recognize these warning signs in others and themselves. Help your team understand that even seemingly minor issues — including troubles in someone’s home life — can often be a precursor to more significant problems. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

It can also be helpful to remind your team that these aggressive behaviors are often a “cry for help.” The earlier one intervenes, the easier it will be for a potentially violent employee to receive counseling or other assistance that will help them get their lives back on track. Being proactive in the use of your employee assistance program could pay significant long term benefits.

5) Define the Incident Management Process

Your employees will feel much safer if the incident management process is clearly defined — including how to respond to an emergency like an active shooter situation.

Explain what actions your human resources team will take after aggressive or unsafe behavior has been reported. Don’t be afraid to outline the process step by step, as this will help employees understand that their reports are taken seriously. Remind employees that information gathering, screening, and additional investigative steps are necessary to accurately evaluate a potential threat.

Take the time to create a detailed plan for responding to an emergency.

Train your team on what they should do to protect themselves during an active shooter event. Go over these plans in meetings and conduct training drills so that everyone knows how to respond appropriately should an incident occur.

Being prepared will save lives.

Good Information Is the Foundation

We live in a time when it is easier than ever for misinformation to spread across the web or in the workplace. You shouldn’t let headlines or rumors unnecessarily scare your employees. By taking a proactive approach and confronting these issues head-on, you will give your team confidence that you care about their safety.

As you provide adequate training and establishing sound security processes, your employees will be better prepared to respond appropriately should an incident occur. Your organization won’t be considered to have been negligent in preparing your staff should an act of violence take place. Ultimately, by speaking with employees about potential security threats now, shows commitment to your most valuable resource — them.

What happens when a bunch of business experts, researchers, educators, and a psychologist walk into a room?

Exactly what you’d expect: they nerd out on research.

Such was the scene at the now-defunct CEB Leadership Academies faculty retreat for years. The retreats were a rare opportunity to connect with far-flung colleagues and share best practices from our past year in the classroom with business leaders around the globe. Perhaps more importantly, it’s where I was introduced to the concept of Growth Mindset.

Back in January, I shared an article describing how Carol Dweck’s ground-breaking research on Growth Mindset—with an emphasis on curiosity—helped transform Microsoft from a “know-it-all” culture to a “learn-it-all” one focused more on exploration and innovation. At Leadership & Co., we find Growth Mindset intriguing as it aligns with our focus on curiosity as well as the competencies we develop in our program—effective collaboration, investigation, and persuasion skills all depend heavily on being curious and embracing Growth Mindset behaviors.

Since publishing that article, I’ve only heard business leaders express even greater interest in learning about Growth Mindset. And who better to help than Dr. Eve Meceda, a psychologist, Leadership & Co. founding faculty member, and the person who introduced me to Growth Mindset. She regularly trains and speaks on the topic to business leaders around the globe. Below, she shares her personal experience and expertise on the subject.

Jamie Hogg: How did you discover Growth Mindset?

Dr. Eve Meceda: One of my long-term clients, an international manufacturing firm, asked me to teach a module on Mindset as part of their leadership development program. To be honest, my first thought was, “Oh, great—another non-psychologist gets their hands on a pop psychology book, and now I have to teach it in a way that doesn’t suck!” Needless to say, I didn’t go into it with the best mindset. I read the first part of the book thinking, “This is complete BS. Oh, sure—there are two different mindsets people can have. A less helpful one, and a more helpful one. Not only do I not have this more helpful mindset, but also I don’t even know anybody with this mindset. This isn’t a thing. They’re just making this up!” Then, about 30 pages into the book, I realized the less helpful mindset they were talking about, Fixed Mindset, was… me. I read the rest of the book really differently, and I’ve been a big fan of the topic ever since.

JH: For the uninitiated, how would you describe Growth Mindset?

EM: Growth Mindset is the belief that intelligence and skills are largely a result of learning and effort rather than exclusively hard-wired traits with which we’re born. This belief leads to a predictable set of behaviors that, in turn, facilitate high performance.

JH: What are the key traits and behaviors of Growth Mindset?

EM: There are six behaviors of Growth Mindset:

  • Desire to learn
  • Love challenges
  • Keep trying
  • Embrace effort
  • Leverage feedback
  • Be inspired by others

If we distill these concepts to one essential element that incorporates all of them, it’d be “curiosity.”

JH: How important is the concept of curiosity to Growth Mindset?

EM: Curiosity is at the core of Growth Mindset. When I describe Mindset in a single word, I describe Fixed Mindset as “certainty” and Growth Mindset as “curiosity.” The goal is to remain open to information from all sources and to consider that information as objectively as possible in the pursuit of optimal outcomes. Readers who clicked on this article curious about a topic they don’t understand well are, in fact, demonstrating a key behavior of Growth Mindset—a desire to learn.

JH: Disruption—and the need to be more innovative—is on the minds of many business leaders. How does cultivating Growth Mindset result in more creative thinking?

EM: In 2014, I authored a book on the insight-generation process. The questions I tackle include: how do we go from being “stuck” on a problem or decision to having sudden and complete clarity around the solution? And how do we accelerate and facilitate the process of achieving “a-ha moments?”

As it turns out, Fixed Mindset is a large part of why we get stuck on problems or decisions in the first place. Fixed Mindset prefers the “most obvious” answer or “the most likely” answer, and when those answers aren’t correct, it gets stuck.

Growth Mindset massively facilitates our ability to get un-stuck. It allows us to experiment, test, and try a multitude of ideas that Fixed Mindset would dismiss out-of-hand. Growth Mindset simply accepts that the answer must be something else and is willing to explore (a concept Leadership & Co. calls curious exploration). It also prevents us from getting stuck in the first place by keeping us open to possibilities. It prevents us from getting attached to our own ideas and theories, and allows us to objectively consider the ideas of others, including ideas that may initially seem far-fetched. These moments of insight are often the spark we need, the genesis of innovation, and the core of creative thinking.

JH: If I’m a business leader, I might find this interesting, but why should I care?

EM: Business leaders hopefully care about high performance at the individual and organizational level. And that’s what Growth Mindset yields—better performance from individuals and organizations. If your focus is being obsessed with learning and improvement, giving 100% effort, leveraging feedback, and being inspired by others, then you’re going to experience significantly higher performance than folks who don’t do those things.

JH: From an employee perspective that sounds great, but what do I get out of Growth Mindset?

EM: Again, it’s a performance issue. The behaviors that stem from Growth Mindset help ensure we each reach our potential and highest level of performance, in both our professional and personal lives. My belief—and certainly the belief of Growth Mindset—is that full preparation + full effort + learning will lead you to reach your potential. There is no other way to get there, and Growth Mindset provides you with the belief system that leads you to engage in these behaviors. One example I like comes from Peyton Manning’s speech when he retired as the Denver Broncos quarterback following their Super Bowl win in 2016. He said, “There were other players who were more talented than me…but nobody could out-prepare me.” This was a wonderful example of Growth Mindset in action. He wasn’t claiming to have been dealt the best genetic cards in the league, but he was saying that he did everything he possibly could to reach his potential through full preparation + full effort + learning.

It’s also a vastly more enjoyable way to live your life!