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Ask a Trainer: How Can I Foster a Growth Mindset in My L&D Team?

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

In this week’s Ask a Trainer guest post, Crystal Kadakia offers advice for how L&D professionals can be open to new possibilities.

Dear Crystal,

I manage a team of learning and development and organization development professionals. My team is smart, hardworking, and talented, but I’ve noticed that they sometimes seem to have a fixed mindset around their own abilities or around the types of solutions we may be able to offer our organization. I think it’s starting to limit what we can accomplish. Do you have any advice for how I can help my team develop more of a growth mindset?

There are two things I’ve noticed about L&D and OD professionals. One is the amount of time we spend asking questions rather than trying to have the answers upfront. That’s a shift I would consider making. Many times when we see a problem, we focus on what we can’t do because we want to have the answer right away. When you approach situations in this manner, it’s easier to consider everything that’s not a possibility than to think about what is possible, so I suggest shifting some of the time we spend trying to develop a solution right away to asking questions.

Then the second piece is that when you’re asking questions, look for how you phrase them. What are you really asking? Are you asking questions about what’s broken, what’s weak, and how it can be fixed? Or are you also asking questions around what’s exceptional in this situation and what strengths we can capitalize on? That’s where you start getting more of a possibility orientation.


Here’s an example I’m working on right now with a client. The client is in a regulatory field and is focused on compliance training. When I talk with them about upgrading a learning experience, they respond with a default reaction of that suggestion not being able to be done. And then, I start asking them to think about the learner and their point of need. What can you do at that point of need that you’re not doing today? What do you imagine would be different for them? What do you wish the dashboard could do? The client focuses immediately on all the things that regulation stops them from doing, but I want to get them into a space of brainstorming what they wish could happen. We may not be able to make that wish come true, but we may be able to work on some stepping stones to get there. That conversation is a lot more generative than the other “we can’t do that” type of conversation.

Learn more from Crystal about possible impossibilities on the Accidental Trainer podcast. Her episode aired on June 30, 2021.


If you have a question for Ask a Trainer, send it to [email protected]. You can find answers to previous questions by visiting the Ask a Trainer hub.

We welcome your comments and engagement on these posts. All posts are reviewed to ensure appropriateness based on ATD’s requirements for postings in our online communities.

Please note: Content shared in this column is provided by the author and may not reflect the perspectives of ATD.

About the Author

Crystal Kadakia is a two-time TEDx speaker, organizational consultant, and best-selling author, known for transforming the toughest workplace changes into exciting possibilities for our digital world. As a consultant, she brings organizations into the digital age, reimagining people strategies with clients in areas such as career development, learning culture, inclusion, leadership development, and employee engagement. Past clients include General Mills, Southern Company,, Sierra Club, and other organizations.

She is the co-creator of the Learning Cluster Design model and the co-author of the related book, Designing for Modern Learning: Beyond ADDIE and SAM (ATD Press, 2020). This model empowers the revolution of the training industry for our Digital Age by showing L&D how to design a set of multiple learning assets, available across the flow of work, to deliver a performance goal on the job.

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impressive and very educative
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