One of the interesting insights I’ve gleaned from my recent listen of Carol Dweck’s book Mindset is that things can take on very different meanings when you also consider whether they exist within a fixed mindset culture or a growth mindset culture.
I’ve applied this idea to one of the terms I have been struggling with: meritocracy.
On face value this looks good. People are rewarded and advance based on merit. In a growth mindset culture this is definitely good because people are encouraged to focus on the effort that they put in and their accomplishments from doing that. Sounds like merit to me.
But in a fixed mindset culture, people are often judged as having a fixed amount of talent or ability. In this scenario meritocracy can lead to entitlement silos where some people are deemed as having merit, while others are not. With people being judged only on the last deal, quarter or project outcome.
It’s not meritocracy that is the problem. It is the underlying mindset that causes the issue.
So… when you state the values you believe your company adheres to. Consider how that value actually manifests itself in the overall culture you adhere to. Is it really what you are looking for?