How to Identify a Mindset Match

Written by Dave Bailey

Filed under culture hiring psychology

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

It had been an incredibly tough six months.

Following a sharp increase in acquisition costs, Jahan—CEO of a health-tech company—had proactively reduced his team size from 80 to 55 people, and replaced some of his key reports.

We met in the midst of a big marketing campaign ahead of their busiest season. Jahan was surprisingly upbeat.

“Dave, we’re breaking records every day. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a higher-performing team.”

“What’s driving this high performance?” I asked.

After taking 20 seconds to think, he replied: “I feel like the new leaders I’ve hired are very similar to me.”

Jahan had built a wonderfully diverse team, so I knew he wasn’t talking about their profiles.

He was referring to their mindset: their attitudes to work, responsibility and collaboration.

“What did you do to foster these attitudes with your new leaders?” I asked.

“I didn’t have to do anything,” he replied with a guilty grin. “I think that’s just how they are.”

The Right Kind of Similarity

It may feel almost taboo to reflect on what makes individuals on high-performing teams similar, particularly when the benefits of diversity within a team are so well documented. However, I’ve found it can yield deep insights about the nature of high-performing teams.

Cultures are defined by their shared beliefs and behaviours—in other words, their similarities. So when you find a high-performing team, it’s helpful to investigate similarities that underpin their ability to work well together.

If you can unpick the right mindset, you can learn to spot others with that mindset. A good starting point is being able to measure it.

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The Mindset Matrix

The Mindset Matrix is a method of clarifying and measuring which attitudes lead to great working relationships with you and your team.

In order to create a Mindset Matrix, you need to identify specific individuals that either represent a mindset match, or a mindset miss. There are three steps to the process.

Step 1: Describe the ‘best mindset’

List the names of three of your highest performing teammates. What attitudes do you share with them? You may come up with multiple attitudes per person.

Step 2: Describe your ‘worst mindset’

List the names of three of your lowest performing teammates. What attitudes do you not share with them? You may come up with multiple attitudes per person.

Step 3: Complete this mindset matrix

(a) Bring together the attitudes identified in steps 1 and 2 into the “‘Attitude’” column below.

(b) From your experience, describe the behaviours that result from either not embodying the attitude (level 1) or fully embodying it (level 4).

(c) Fill in the gaps for Levels 2 and 3. Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, can provide a useful approximation.

You can use this matrix as a scorecard to quantify people’s mindsets through observable behaviours. This can be used in recruiting to assess mindset fit with candidates, as well as in performance reviews with existing team members. 

Customer Mindsets

The ability to measure mindsets isn’t just useful for building high-performing teams. It can also help you attract the right customers.

Often, we default to targeting our best customers by their demographic, motivations, and life events—because they are measurable. However, the Mindset Matrix allows you to measure your customers psychometrically, and target your communication on their mindset.

Reflect on the attitudes your most profitable customers share. Next, uncover the attitudes of your worst-performing customers, and create a mindset matrix for them.

This process can surface new ways to find, communicate with and nurture customers who are more likely to become profitable ones.

Some companies, particularly the biggest consumer companies, place a huge emphasis on mindset. Nike’s tagline is itself a mindset: “Just Do It!”

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Find Your Mindset Match

Like most things in life, similarity and difference aren’t ‘either/or’, they’re ‘both/and’. Consider the ways your team is similar and the attitudes you wish to cultivate.

Your Mindset Matrix will be unique to you, and therefore it only predicts success in working with you. By keeping people who aren’t succeeding with you, you’re in fact keeping them from working with a team or company that can succeed for them.

Working with people who share the same mindset is a joy for both parties. This, ultimately, is something I wish for you.

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 Originally published Jan 17, 2024

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