When people are passionate, inspired and committed in their work they produce great results. If this is not the case then you can be sure that your organisation is underperforming.

Passion, inspiration and commitment are a function of peoples mindsets. The usual perception is that a) people either have the right mindset or they dont; or b) if they arent already passionate, inspired and committed in their job, the only practical way to change this is to change their job.

If this has been your view of how mindsets work, we have good news: Peoples mindsets can change quickly - even in one conversation.

How can mindsets change quickly?

1) Mindsets are separate from the current situation

Its a myth that mindsets are directly caused by the current situation. We often hear "Id be more committed in this role if they gave us the budget we asked for", or "we cant make the target in the current market environment". These views are limiting peoples potential, when its equally possible to have a different perspective on the same situation: "We cant fund all the great ideas we have - we should focus only on the most important ones," or "any change in the market always surfaces new opportunities; we will create a new way to make the target."

2) The skills to change mindsets are different from the skills needed to change situations

Mindsets are fixed perspectives about a situation. The situation is a separate set of facts. The skills to alter peoples mindsets are things like listening, honouring and inquiring; the skills to alter the situation are things like information gathering, analysis and presentation. People usually try to affect mindsets with information, analysis and presentation - it doesnt work. For example, the way to change peoples mindset about their budget is NOT to explain to them why the budget was cut - while this is essential, it is not enough. Mindsets (fixed perspectives) soften when they are listened to and honoured - not criticised or proved inaccurate. Once they are listened to, people are more open to other views, not the "right" or "better" ones, simply equally valid ones. When this is done skilfully, people always embrace a perspective that empowers everyone and is best for the organisation.

3) New mindsets are sustained through actions and results

When people embrace a new mindset, they always see new actions to take, consistent with their new view; these could be conversations to have, commitments to make, things to stop doing, etc. Its crucial to take these actions quickly. These actions need to be cared for like a child taking his/her first steps - every effort needs to be taken to ensure that they are successful. Once there are enough steps taken and results produced, the new mindset is sustainable. The bonus is that your organisation sees objective results along the way.

Its simple, but not easy!

If its so simple, why isnt everyone doing this already? There are two main reasons for this:

1) The skill set to change mindsets is missing in business.

Until recently, the focus of most businesses has been managing financial performance through the skilful analysis and diligent implementation of effective business processes. Business leaders unwittingly apply the same skills of analysis and management to people. While this can affect what people do, it doesnt impact peoples mindsets. In fact, its counterproductive to manage people in the same way as managing business processes (after all, the inventory system doesnt have an opinion about what it does!).

2) It is personally uncomfortable

A crucial element in changing mindsets is the willingness to suspend your own beliefs about people and situations -- many people resist doing this. But you cant change anothers mindset if you have a limiting mindset of your own. People who are skilful at changing mindsets consistently challenge their own mindsets so these are out of the way when they are coaching others. This is never a comfortable thing to do - and therefore rarely done.

Why bother with mindsets?

Mindsets are the key to unlocking the potential in your organisation. Limiting mindsets can be quickly shifted to empowering mindsets, and the impact of these shifts can be seen in objective results within a matter of months. The catch is, you need to be willing to abandon your own mindsets - in front of other people! Are you willing to do this? Do you have the courage to change your mind about your own mindsets?

About the author:

Steve Cabrera is an American Brit living in London and director of Shine Consulting, a partnership of business consultants committed that people and organisations produce a new standard of results through the passion, inspiration and commitment of people.