Perspectives, Issues, Research and Practice
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Simon L. Albrecht
Chapter 18: Mindsets and Employee Engagement: Theoretical Linkages and Practical Interventions
Peter A. Heslin Introduction Engaged employees work with dedication, vigor, and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2006). They exhibit persistent motivation, emotional connections to their work and other people, as well as the vigilance associated with flow (Kahn, 1990). Various factors are known to cultivate employee engagement. These include fair and trustworthy leaders who show employees how their work makes a positive difference (Avolio et al., 2004), jobs designed to provide optimal levels of autonomy, challenge, and feedback (Saks, 2006), restorative non-work recovery (Sonnentag, 2003), freedom from sexual harassment (Cogin & Fish, 2009), and a work environment in which employees are consulted, appreciated, and have a best friend (Harter, 2008). Regardless of the work context, why are some employees still inclined to be more engaged than others? We propose that employees’ engagement also depends upon their mindset about the extent to which their abilities are malleable1 (Dweck, 2006). We begin by outlining the nature of mindset. Next we discuss how employees’ mindsets affect whether they approach their work with energy, enthusiasm, and immersion (that is, engagement), or with the ambivalence, anxiety, and risk avoidance that are hallmarks of disengagement (Kahn, 1990). Then we review how mindset can influence managerial behaviors. We conclude by discussing how organizations, managers, and employees can foster the mindsets likely to either facilitate or undermine employee engagement. Mindsets Mindsets embody the assumptions people hold about the plasticity of their abilities. A fixed mindset reflects the implicit belief that human attributes are essentially stable entities, as revealed by agreement...
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