Blog Post

Here Are 3 Ways to Foster a Learning Mindset At Your Company

Jeff Miller

Chief Learning Officer and Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness, Cornerstone OnDemand

This article was originally published on, under Jeff Miller's Forbes Human Resources Column.

In 12 years, most of our jobs won't exist.

According to McKinsey, between 400 million and 800 million jobs will be gone by 2030. A version of them might remain, but as technologies like artificial intelligence and automation gain momentum, it's safe to say we've reached an inflection point (as we did in the dot-com era) around the kind of work we do.

But just because these jobs will be gone doesn't mean 800 million people will be unemployed. Instead, people will do different kinds of work, uniquely "human" roles that require collaboration and creativity. Adapting to these new jobs is going to take what's called a growth mindset.

A growth mindset means you view intelligence as endless: You're always able to learn new skills. In the opposite, a fixed mindset, knowledge is viewed as a limited commodity — you're either good at something or you're not. In my experience, most people say they have a growth mindset. And that might be true, but think about the times you've struggled or even failed. During those times, it's likely that you transitioned into a fixed mindset.

Maintaining a growth mindset and engaging in what I call extreme learning — constantly gathering new information — are essential ingredients of success in our current (and future) work environment. As we see more changes in the workplace in the coming years, HR teams need to look for these skills in new hires and foster them among their existing teams.

Extreme Learning In The Workplace

The last time we saw a major technological change in the workforce was during the dot-com boom in the 1990s. Several hundred thousand jobs became available — new jobs that required new skills, like computer programmer and computer engineer. According to data from Pew Research Center, between 1997 and 2012, the number of technology-specific jobs rose from over 2 million to close to 4 million.

For employees, then as much as now, remaining relevant in the changing workforce requires seeking out new skills. As technology alters the way we work and the types of work we do, I believe extreme learning helps employees remain energized around their work.

To build a strong foundation for extreme learning in the automation age and ensure their workforces are "Future Fit," based on predictions from the Institute for the Future, HR leaders should focus on the following competencies:

1. Digital Fluency: Accenture reports that while a majority of executives are planning to invest in AI in the next few years, only 3% plan to increase investment in training programs. But as AI makes its way into the workforce, more employees are going to need to know about — and how to work with — machines. Think about your organization today and ask, does everybody have the opportunity to learn digital skills, like coding? Making learning resources like these available to everyone in the company will ensure your employees can work with machines now and in the future.

2. Multicultural Dexterity: At Cornerstone, we're focused on diversity and inclusion initiatives, and I'm particularly interested looking at diversity in categories like diversity of perspective and diversity of information. People don't like to admit they have hidden bias because they see it as something fundamentally bad, but everyone has bias. Being more aware of what our biases are will help us connect better with all types of people, something that the new workforce is going to require. For example, with older people remaining in the workforce longer rather than retiring at 60 or 65, new teams will need to be able to connect across generational biases and gaps and appreciate the different perspectives and information each group brings to the table.

3. Empathy: According to research from Deloitte, as tasks become automated, there's an increased focus and importance of the human parts of work. I've written before that empathy is an essential quality for leadership, and it's one of these essential human skills that everyone will need in the workforce of the future because it makes us better at collaborating.

Today, my job is AVP of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness at Cornerstone OnDemand. That job might not exist in the next few years, but I'm working personally and with my team to figure out how our leadership and development skills will be better applied to this new workforce. Maybe in the future, I will be a "content master" or "leadership guru" — and neither of those sound half bad.

The same is true in any industry. Employees will need to adopt a growth mindset and use extreme learning to adapt. Doing so will allow them to remain relevant, no matter how their field changes.

Photo: Creative Commons

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