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Adaptability is the name of the game, if you understand that you must now be adaptable and flexible you will find a way to succeed in your career.
Adaptability is the potential to adjust and learn new skills in response to changing factors and conditions or environments. It is a soft skill that is highly valued by employers because every industry can be unpredictable. Both businesses and employees need to be able to adapt so that they can react quickly to unforeseen circumstances.
The meaning of adaptability can vary depending on the workplace environment and people’s specific roles within that environment. In general, being adaptable means being flexible, innovative, open and resilient, particularly when things not go according to plan.
Being able to adapt means something slightly different from being able to manage change. Whereas change management typically involves long term planning, strategic goals and careful monitoring. Adaptability is much more ad-hoc, involving rapid adjustments in response to changing situations.
Adaptable employees will be able to shift strategy quickly and effectively, finding alternate solutions that have not been anticipated an advance. While being adaptable does mean responding to unforeseen circumstances, this does not mean that you are unable to train for it. It is important to develop adaptive skills and cultivate a dynamic mindset as this makes it possible to implement adjustments when required.
We live in a rapidly changing world and the business environment across all sectors is becoming more and more unstable. According to a survey, 93% of executives said that they were seeing significant levels of volatility in their industries. This was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has since increased economic uncertainty even more. Given the fragility of this economic landscape it is not surprising that adaptability is highly valued by managers and business leaders. A review found that C-suite leaders listed adaptability as one of the top five skills they felt they needed to succeed in the future.
Nevertheless, despite its importance, adaptability remains a rare skill. According to a report, although 84% of executives stated that they felt innovation was essential for their company growth. However, only 6% were satisfied with their company’s innovation and adaptability performance.
History clearly shows what happens to businesses that are unable to adopt to change. There are companies who were once industry leaders, collapsed because they were unable to adapt. These companies did not respond quickly enough to incoming threats and soon found themselves overtaken.
In moments of crises, adaptability is particularly important. In financial crises, the companies that fared best were those that adjusted rapidly to what became known as “New Normal”. On the other hand, the companies those were unable to shift their focus and rethink their operations struggled to survive.
Similarly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies that succeeded were those that adapted quickly to the new working conditions. This involved shifting to remote forms of working and engaging in digital transformation.
On an individual level, an employee that is not able to adapt risks becoming stuck in certain patterns of work. They might find themselves stagnating, unable to pick up new skills. They might, therefore, find it difficult to react when things go wrong. An inadaptable employee can also be difficult to work with, making them less likely to be chosen for team projects or presented with opportunities.
There are several ways that people can be adaptable at work. Be confident but open to criticism: Confidence is an important factor when it comes to adaptability. Confident workers will be more willing to take risks and less worried about the consequences of failing. However, while self-belief is an important skill, it is equally important to know how to take feedback and criticism. Overconfidence may cause you to neglect the complexity of a task or fail to take on the advice of others.
Focus on solutions rather than problems. While it is important to recognize the challenges involved in a particular project, adaptable employees also come up with potential solutions or alternatives. Rather than focusing primarily on the reasons why something cannot be done, try to think about different ways or circumstances, in which it could be done. In other words, try to say yes rather than no.
Collaborate with others and learn from them: Recognizing your limits is just as important as knowing your strengths. While adaptable people will often be effective at working on their own, they will also know when to ask for help and when to bring other people on board. In general, being willing to learn both independently and from others are keys to being an adaptive worker.
While the skills will benefit workers in all roles and industries, there are some key adaptability skills that apply specifically to leaders and managers. There are several ways in which people in leadership roles can help foster adaptability in the workplace.
Give employees the confidence to learn from their mistakes. The importance of learning through failure is well-documented. Leaders should not only reflect, on how they can implement changes in response to errors, but also make sure that employees feel comfortable failing. Only then will they be able to see failures as changes for growth.
Create opportunities for reflection. When employees are focused on performance objectives, they often do not time have to reflect on their work. Managers can create a space for employees to engage in self reflection and self evaluation, helping them to recognize changes that they might implement in the future.
Be deliberate when setting goals. Adaptive leaders will take a strategic approach to setting goals and improving performance. Though adaptability requires flexibility and innovation, careful consideration is required to ensure that changes can be implemented as and when required.
Developing these skills requires time and dedication. The COVID-19 pandemic has recently shown just how fragile our working pattern can be, demonstrating how important adaptability is for ensuring success.
Now and in the future, the managers and employees who actively cultivate adaptive habits, will not only be primed for survival during difficult times, but will also be ready to seize opportunities as soon as they arise.
There are very few successful people or organizations who got to where they are by simply doing the same thing. In fact, great leaders seek out change and pursue it feverishly, understanding that to be truly innovative and ahead of trends, you must embrace change. But being adaptable is not just about embracing change. Being adaptable means being a perpetual optimists and exhibiting extraordinary resilience. Adaptability skills can be possessed both in altitude and action, but one cannot exist without the other.
Benefits of being adaptable.
Adaptability is important, as it is a skill that, has no bounds in the way, it can be applied in the workplace. Being adaptable means working without boundaries and being open to finding diverse and unexpected solutions to problems and challenges in the workplace. Without limitations on your thinking and actions, challenges become something not to dread, but to seize and enjoy working through. As someone who is adaptable, will also be willing to engage a variety of people with diverse skills to get the job done, building broad networks of highly engaged and capable people as you go.
Great leaders know that change is inevitable and they do not shy away from it. They also remain positive in the face of adversity, keeping their teams and employees focused and motivated through tough or lacklustre periods. Great leaders are also open minded and considered, knowing that solutions and brilliance can be found in many places.
They are never quick to disregard solutions that might be viable. All these important leadership qualities, have adaptability at their core and rely on an ability to adapt to, and embrace change. People who are willing to change or shake up conventional ways of doing things will remain relevant throughout their working lives because they are comfortable experimenting. Whether it means trailing a new project management system to better adapt to your growing organization or completely re-engineering how you manage teams. Be willing to trial different tools, strategies and techniques to achieve the best outcomes. Workplaces are changing faster than ever before and if you are not willing to constantly adapt, then expect to be left behind.
How do we develop adaptability skill?. It is a skill that takes practice and commitment, but it is within reach for employees across all industries. Consider adaptability a must have soft skills if you are aspiring for a leadership role. As is the case with learning a whole range of critical soft skills, learning to better navigate change and become adaptable is best done from others.
Do you admire how someone consistently delivers fiscal results with a positive message for the future, even if targets have been missed?
Or perhaps, you like how some person brings in members of different teams, to brainstorm solutions to the IT teams challenges. Take notes when these people exhibit the adaptability skills, you are keen to learn or ask them directly for tips and guidance. You can learn from people both inside and external to your organization. If you are learning from those internally, you will get the added benefit of learning how the skills are applied best to the organization, its values and its people.
Extracting positive from situations or projects that do not go as planned can be hard, particularly if the loss was big or a significant deadline was missed. However, being able to find the silver lining in all work you do is a brilliant example of adaptability skills in action. It requires you to reset and reframe your focus, often taking a step back and viewing things less critically and more objectively. If you find it hard to identify the positives, start by noting down, what you learn when things do not go as planned. Factoring this exercise in, as a crucial part of your review strategy. The more you engage in this process, the more optimism you will find you have, and the easier it will be to change back and overcome challenges next time.
No one’s perfect. Making mistakes is a very human and very real thing that will happen throughout your career. While making an error can be frustrating or even humiliating, it is how you manage the aftermath that counts and this phase that will help improve your adaptability skills. If you learn from your mistakes, share new found knowledge and test alternate solutions. Chances are these mistakes will form some of the most important lessons you will learn throughout your working life.
Just as they must accept change to grow, the best leaders and organizations among us usually have not achieved success by working alone. They have inspiring mentors, innovative colleagues and gifted networks they can lean on for support, ask questions of and debate ideas with. Asking questions is a great way to learn more and challenge established ways of doing things, a key component of being adaptable. Just make sure that your questions are well researched and delivered professionally to ensure you receive the most valuable answers.
Learning how to adopt to change is a soft skill that will not only make you a top candidate when applying for roles, but one that has the capacity to give you a renewed optimism about your work.
Adaptability is a brilliant life skill that has great application in both your personal and professional life, so start implementing these tips to strengthen your adaptability skills today.
Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself!!!