Developing a Growth Minded Culture in a 3PL Warehouse

Date: August 17, 2018

6 Steps to Instill a Growth Mindset Culture

Instilling a “growth-minded” culture throughout your organization leads to increased long-term sales and profitability. Designed for dramatically higher levels of trust, engagement, innovation, collaboration and loyalty1, growth-minded warehouses result in happier, smarter, and far more valuable employees.

Considering the shortage of experienced warehouse workers, and the time and effort needed to to train new staff members, retaining good employees that can deliver the best solution for the business and the customer is a must. Delivering superior customer service is now an increasing necessity and is key to a 3PL's future growth.2

Culture eats strategy for breakfast -Peter Drucker

The Six Steps of Culture Development

Growth-minded cultures work best when the entire organization understands why change is being implemented, the desired outcome, and how the business plans to measure successAnd while these types of changes may not come easily at first, the benefits will greatly outweigh the hurdles once in daily practice. To draw on these benefits, a successful implementation requires a conscious, structured, long-term commitment for all employees. 

To help your 3PL with this crucial task, we have compiled this checklist of six steps that will help guide your efforts:

Step One: Growth-Minded Culture Must Come from the Top

In order to take root, a growth-minded culture must be preached, reinforced and lived every day by ownership and senior management.3 It should be backed and executed by line management. It should be the norm and not the exception. 

Here’s how to start the process:

  • Document how a growth-minded culture can help you grow your business.
  • Communicate this philosophy to all of your managers.
  • Flatten your hierarchical structure so that it is more flexible and open.
  • Managers should be seen as coaches and supporters, not dictators.

Step Two: Is Your Current culture “Growth-Minded” or “Fixed-Minded?”

Aside from offering competitive wages, shift flexibility and sick days, warehouse employees prefer to work for a warehouse that values them as individuals.  According to world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, all companies operate with either a “Growth-Minded” or “Fixed Minded” culture4. It is important to first understand which one describes your warehouse.

Fixed Mindset

In a fixed mindset, people believe qualities like intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits. Employees spend time documenting their intelligence instead of developing new talents. They also believe that current experience alone creates success.

Employees operating in a fixed mindset culture have a fear of punishment. This can lead to groupthink which often discourages creativity or individual responsibility and revolves around pleasing upper management.

Growth Mindset

In a growth mindset, people believe that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

Employees operating in a growth mindset are encouraged to question the status quo and suggest new approaches without fear of repercussions. They are encouraged to constantly learn, innovate, and increase job satisfaction. Such cultures revolve around providing a rewarding work environment for individual employees.5

Once management understands which mindset describes how warehouse employees are operating, they can begin to build a plan to enhance positive attributes and highlight areas where change is desired. When established, this should be communicated to all employees. 

Growth mindset culture in 3pl warehouses. We can learn anything.

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Step Three: View Employees as Partners and Collaborators

When looking to attract talent and to keep superstars in your warehouse, it is important that all employees feel like contributors. Partnering with supervisors, managers, and especially owners, can help validate employee insights and suggestions to improving overall processes and operations.  

  • Inform all employees of their crucial role in the success of your organization.6
  • Explain the concepts and benefits of a growth mindset – and how it will affect their jobs and reward structures.
  • Highlight individual employees who display the correct attitude (as opposed to focusing solely on outcomes).

Did you know that 50% of all employees remember visual guides as opposed to verbal or written notices?

Find ways to share information to warehouse workers through visual aids, such as the one below, when looking to establish new processes or behaviors.

Help make our 3PL warehouse a GREAT place to work with a growth-mindset culture.

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Step Four: Develop the Talent of ALL your Employees

Long championed by such corporate giants like Microsoft7, this strategy works to help every employee achieve their full potential, as opposed to a select few.  This strategy can be implemented as follows:

  • Begin by learning the professional goals and objectives of every employee.
  • Provide access to learning opportunities that will further these goals.
  • Reward and celebrate the act of continual learning instead of focusing solely on outcomes.

Allowing employees to also set aside time to learn from others for peer-to-peer learning, as well the opportunity for employees to set aside time at work to take classes or attend seminars and webinars can increase satisfaction and morale.

Step Five: Empower Employees to Help Improve Operations

Warehouse employees are working daily to meet company goals and satisfy customers. Offering them the opportunity make suggestions, question current processes, and advocate new ways of improving operations is another way to drive home a growth mindset. Examples include:

  • Conduct “Hack-a-Thon” contests where employees compete against one another to pitch, explain, and debate new ideas to improve the workplace.8
  • Form teams of high-performing, growth-minded workers to compete against one another to implement new ideas.  Again, reward thinking, innovation and effort as opposed to outcomes only.9
  • Give teams permission to take risks that may fail to see what new ideas can spark innovation.

There may also be ways to promote employees who lead by example, share new ideas, and are looking to improve the quality of workmanship through Employee of the Month clubs, financial compensation, or value awards.

Step Six: Change Your Approach to Reviews and Feedback

Management should be monitoring every employees’ education efforts, progress, and job satisfaction and communicating how their contributions affect the overall success of the warehouse. The classic “annual review” is evolving as more and more businesses embrace a growth minded culture. Here are some options to consider when speaking with employees:

  • Employ real-time feedback loops.
  • Emphasize learning from setbacks – as opposed to punishment.
  • Increase the frequency of performance reviews from annually to quarterly – or even monthly.10

Lastly, change the conversation. Begin to focus on the employee and how management can help improve their experience.

Questions like how management can help, what could be improved, and empowering employees to offer ideas for change can go a long way.

Learn more about how to turn industry growth into an opportunity for your warehouse with our Practical Guide to Growing Your 3PL Warehouse. 


3PL Central

Written by 3PL Central

The first cloud-based WMS solutions designed for 3PLs. Powerful, flexible, scalable, and specifically designed to help 3PLs and warehouses grow to the next level.