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In today’s competitive IT landscape, managed services providers (MSPs) struggle to keep pace with evolving customer demands, shrinking budgets, and a tight talent pool. But what if there was a way to overcome these obstacles, unlock innovation, and propel your business forward? Enter the growth mindset, a concept pioneered by psychologist Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Are fixed mindsets stifling your productivity and profits?

To fully appreciate the power of a growth mindset, it’s helpful to understand its opposite: a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset considers one’s intelligence and abilities innate and unchangeable. It’s the belief that you’re either born with them or not.

Fixed mindsets can be problematic in several ways. For example, if someone with a fixed mindset encounters failure or obstacles, they are more inclined to give up than devise a workable solution. They may also assume that all efforts will fail because one approach failed.

Fixed mindset management styles can bottleneck innovation. If the MSP owner or a sales team leader feels they need to vet and approve every new product, idea, or market opportunity, that not only places a lot of pressure on specific individuals, but also discourages others from experimenting or making suggestions.

Fixed mindset managers also tend to personalize failure, making learning from and improving from those experiences more challenging. If a product flops or you don’t close a sale with a specific client, it’s easier to blame a lack of effort or talent on a project leader or team member than to critically evaluate the experience from start to end and find ways to improve. This can also lead to some outlandish, passive-aggressive behaviors across the team. Employees will either try to hide failures or only take on projects that they know will be successful. Top performers will coast on past successes. Nobody tries anything new or risky. Effort is seen as a weakness, and feedback is considered a personal insult.

Even people who may be objectively gifted at an activity (they are a naturally fast runner or were born with a beautiful singing voice) may believe that they will not benefit from training or further development or may assume that others who were not so blessed can never get better at a given activity.

The advantages of a growth mindset in managed services

Unlike the fixed mindset, a growth mindset believes abilities can improve with effort regardless of the challenges or obstacles involved. It can revolutionize your business and unlock new levels of success. Here are five examples:

  1. Increase revenue: In an industry characterized by constant technological advancements, adaptability is vital to survival. For example, there is an increased demand for MSPs who can provide comprehensive security solutions, such as extended detection and response (XDR) and 24/7 security operations centers (SOCs), as a service to address customers’ skilled labor shortages. MSPs with a growth mindset are primed to discard their outdated one-off product sale/project mentality to embrace emerging technologies and provide the ongoing support their clients need for this digital transformation.
  2. Build resilience: An MSP’s journey is fraught with obstacles, from technical glitches to client dissatisfaction. A growth mindset equips providers with the resilience needed to weather these storms. Rather than succumbing to defeat, they view setbacks as temporary delays, fueling their determination to persevere and emerge stronger than before.
  3. Learn and improve continuously: In the dynamic landscape of managed services, complacency is a dangerous pitfall. MSPs embracing a growth mindset prioritize continuous learning, actively seeking opportunities to expand their knowledge and skill sets. Whether through professional development initiatives or collaborative learning environments, they commit to staying abreast of industry trends and best practices.
  4. Take a client-centric approach: A dedication to client satisfaction is at the heart of every successful MSP. A growth mindset fosters this ethos, emphasizing proactive communication, responsiveness, and a willingness to go above and beyond to meet client expectations. MSPs with this mindset understand that fostering strong client relationships is instrumental to their success and integral to their clients’ success.
  5. Cultivate a culture of growth: A growth mindset extends beyond individual behavior to shape the culture of an MSP organization. By promoting a learning, collaborative, and innovative culture, MSPs can attract top talent and foster a dynamic work environment conducive to success. Employees should be empowered to take risks, share ideas, and contribute to the collective growth of the organization.

Make the shift from a fixed to a growth mindset

Adopting a growth mindset requires organizational shifts and a change in individual thinking. MSPs that want to benefit from a growth mindset can start by following these tips:

  • Encourage team members to invest in their own improvement. Actively promote your staff to participate in technical and sales training or other improvement activities (like gaining new certifications) as part of a continuous improvement effort. You can hold some of this training on-site, if possible.
  • Develop clear learning paths with obtainable certifications for each team member. Having clear pathways to advancement that reward employees’ efforts is essential. These training efforts should also include high-performing team members who may otherwise think they don’t need it.
  • Support collaboration. This might look different depending on your organization structure, but your organization should foster collaboration (rather than competition) between business units. Find a way for team members to share ideas and best practices efficiently and effectively. This may be through periodic meetings or leveraging knowledge management or CRM software.
  • Foster risk-taking. We are talking about calculated risks here, not carelessness. Part of this will also involve creating a work environment where failure is not met with punitive reactions. Failures are opportunities to learn and improve and should be treated as such. If everyone is afraid of making a mistake, no one will suggest what could be a risky (but potentially profitable) idea. In a high-tech industry where innovation continues to accelerate, getting out in front of emerging trends in time to generate new business requires risk-taking.

A growth mindset can help MSPs better adapt to changing customer and technology needs, even if that means moving past techniques, products, or management methods that may have worked in the past. Implemented effectively, a growth mindset approach can play a critical role in increasing revenue and customer satisfaction. Make the shift today for a better tomorrow.

Note: This article was originally published in Managed Services Journal.

Photo: Black Salmon / Shutterstock

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Patrick O'Donnell

Posted by Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell is SVP, Worldwide MSP Sales, Barracuda where he is responsible for accelerating Barracuda’s MSP sales, driving the go-to-market strategy, execution, and programs for the sale of security, data protection, and Managed XDR offerings through the channel.

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