Back to School
Encouraging people to respond to challenges with a stronger mindset should start in the early years of education and continue into adulthood, says Sarah Spivey, managing director at Modulift.
I recently took up an exciting, extracurricular role as a trustee of a multi-academy trust (MAT), a single entity established to undertake a strategic collaboration to improve and maintain high educational standards across a number of schools. For background, a group of schools form a single MAT that has overarching responsibility for their operation. The concept is based on an idea that more efficient back-office arrangements and spread best practice, for example, raises the standard of weaker schools.
There's a synergy with business, which is something that appealed to me. Why shouldn't schools look to other sectors for guidance? I read recently that the average size business in the UK turns over approx. £500k, while the revenue for a MAT of 2,000 pupils might be many times greater. Thus, I might have something to offer in terms of strategy and governance, and I'm happy to put something back into the community. At the same time, I'm approaching the role open minded, hopeful of gathering intelligence myself. And I'm already learning.
On a recent visit, I was encouraged by the approach the head teacher is taking at the school I've been assigned to support, which is essentially based upon 'growth mindset' principles. She explained to me that even at a young age—the school takes pupils from Reception to Year 2 (aged between, say, 4 to 7 years old)—the education system can instill important life lessons. Albeit in a positive way, the goal is to help them understand that life is often about being faced with challenges but it's important not to give up. With hard work, commitment, and practice, they can be overcome.
As the head also told me, the school encourages students to believe they can get smarter and understand that effort makes them stronger. The early results have been exciting; students have put extra time and labour into tasks, knowing that the endeavour leads to higher achievement.
The way the children are praised is interesting too. It's been noted in supporting research that students who are lauded for effort outperform students who are told they are smart. Further, it is taught that a bad result, low score, or constructive criticism is a precursor to the practice and learning that goes into improving the outcome next time. It's fascinating to see the methods the school is adopting to get this across to the children and they seem to be responding to challenges in a whole new way, which is great to hear about.
It's exciting to think about how these important early lessons will develop and encourage older students, then young professionals, to react to challenges.
It's proven incredibly infectious too. The head teacher has noted that her staff and other adults who work at the school have embraced the same growth mindset. Of course, it manifests itself differently but the idea is the same. Teachers, who were already doing a great job, have even revisited strategy; asked questions they perhaps wouldn't have posed before; and more readily practiced certain skills. The concept is broad; perhaps an adult might follow good nutrition and adopt better sleeping habits. It's all part of the growth mindset.
I've already started thinking about how these sciences can be applied to my own workplace and I'd encourage others to do the same. Modulift's workforce has a better starting point than most but there's always room for improvement. Imagine if everyone at a company relished challenges despite repeated failures. I've seen too many businesses where employees only stick to the tasks they're good at and don't challenge themselves.
When a supervisor or line manager presents a new task to a member of staff, think of the positive, and knock-on, impact it has if they jump at it rather than check their job description or remember a time many years earlier when they failed at something similar. Whilst this guidance only refers to tasks someone is trained to complete, ongoing professional development and education is a hallmark of a growth mindset in itself. It's not a sign of weakness to want to learn and improve, or practice something that defeated us once before.
Modulift recently advertised for a number of new positions as we continue to recruit in line with aggressive growth. Professionals could apply much of the content of this blog to their career paths. I'm all for loyalty and commitment but it's also important to accept new challenges. Given our Poole, Dorset HQ, it might take a relocation to step into a role at Modulift, but the work and life rewards could be huge. It's a stunning, coastal region of the world and, regardless of the department, it's a great company to work for—especially for those of a growth mindset.
For a list of our current vacancies visit https://www.modulift.com/recruitment/modulift-other-pages/recruitment
Exhibition season is gathering pace and, while we're only just starting a series of conferences and expos ourselves, our peers and contacts are reporting back from events all over the world. Notably, Intermat, the so-called international fair for construction and infrastructure, took place in Paris on 23-28 April and I'm told aisles were hardly bustling. At the same time, we had first-hand experience of the International Offshore Crane & Lifting Conference in Aberdeen, where Sue Spencer, our technical director, represented us, and footfall was light.
It'll be interesting to monitor the Offshore Technology Conference this week in Houston, USA before we participate ourselves in Vertikal Days' debut at Donington Park, UK in a few weeks (16-17 May). And I hope both events buck the trend of what seems like a quieter spring on trade show floors than normal. Given recent upturns in a number of marketplaces, perhaps people are too busy to attend. Are they using other means to sample product and network? Or are they doing their homework and being more selective about where they visit / exhibit?
Vertikal owner Leigh Sparrow does a great job of breaking from the norm—the halfway point networking party at his annual show is a standout fixture in the UK events calendar—and I'm hopeful he and the team are rewarded with a bumper turnout.
Thank you for reading.