Mindset – Do you mine for Gold?

What mindset do you have about the people in your team? A recent blog post by Trish Cloete in HR daily entitled ‘Performance is in the eye of the beholder’ reminded me of a concept I was introduced to some years ago – represented by these two pictures.

mindset - mining for gold_words

How do you see each person in your team?

Do you see the shiny external surface where everything looks ok, but – if you were really honest – on the inside you think there is something ‘NQR’ and you are waiting for them to come unstuck or let you down? (the picture on the left.)

Or – do you recognise this person is less than perfect – and in fact accept these imperfections – but know there is something more there – some ‘potential’ for excellence – if you just keep looking for it…or better still, help them realise it? (the picture on the right.)

Do you think about people in terms of their potential – not just their current performance?

It is frightening to appreciate the impact your thinking has on you and your dealings with people. What you believe about a person can have a profound effect on what they do, what they don’t do, and even how they see themselves…


What research tell us

In the blog post called ‘Performance Is In the Eye of the Beholding Manager’ by Trish Cloete, she explores this concept further, wondering why a person can be an ‘average performer’ under one leader and a ‘star’ under another.

Trish claims that ‘to simplify our cognitive world, the brain tends to categorise and label people as early as possible, so that we can quickly make decisions about how to respond to situations and treat people’.

She says, ‘managers, even if trying to disguise inconsistent treatment, tend to behave in subtle ways that indicate their opinion. For instance, when dealing with subordinates seen to be underperformers, they tend to:

  • give unsolicited advice;
  • give solutions or orders disguised as suggestions;
  • ignore ideas;
  • respond more quickly and critically to failure;
  • react with disbelief or surprise to success;
  • be harsher, owing to the presumption of guilt’


Your mindset? Take some time out to think about this – and understand what impact this might have on the way you interact with your team members…

So what do you believe about the people in your team? Are you seeing what you are looking for? The good or the bad?

Are you mining for gold?