Angela Duckworth's two best strategies for building grit in your employees

Employees want leaders who take an interest in their professional growth.

More than 40% of both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers—and nearly 60% of millennials—say growth opportunities are one of the most important things they look for in a job

But to grow a career, you need grit—that special combination of passion, persistence, and resilience that powers personal and professional success.

There are online classes and step-by-step guides on how to build personal resilience—but how can leaders strengthen the grit of their teams?

Quartz spoke with Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and leading expert on grit theory, to understand how leaders can cultivate a grittier team.

Also see: 8 daily habits of resilient people

Set up small wins

Grit requires self-confidence, says Duckworth. But to build self-confidence, people need to see evidence of their skills and progress. Small professional victories can give your team the tenacity they need to tackle the next challenge, she explains.

If your employees lack self-confidence, try breaking down a big goal into smaller tasks, she recommends. Assign your employee the task they're just able to complete with support—and once they master that, push them towards the goal.  

Deliver specific, actionable feedback

Feedback is an essential part of steering employee growth and cultivating grit, says Duckworth. Leaders who give specific, actionable praise—and criticism—ensure that employees know their strengths and opportunities for growth, she adds.

Constructive criticism signals your investment in your employees' professional development, says Melody Wilding, a leadership coach. Thoughtful feedback can motivate and inspire employees to develop a growth mindset. For Duckworth, the most helpful feedback is simple, direct, and verb-oriented. When you're mentoring employees, use your feedback to empower and reinforce their small wins, she suggests (Fessler, Quartz, 3/28/18).

Read more about workplace mentorships

8 habits of highly effective coaches

3 things all mentors should provide

The 9 essential coaching skills the best leaders use

5 ways to be a better mentor

2 questions the most effective coaches ask every employee


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