Adaptability is a critical quality that employers seek in early 21st-century employees. With rapid changes in technology, diversity and society, companies need employees who are open to new ideas, flexible enough to work through challenging issues, and generally able to cope when things don’t go as planned. Demonstrating adaptability through actions can gain you favor with co-workers and supervisors.
Adaptability is the ability of an individual, team or organisation to adjust or change itself to best meet the needs of the situation or environment. So that if change occurs, an adaptable person or team will adjust and find how best to perform in the new situation themselves, as opposed to having to be retrained. Adaptable staff, particularly frontline staff can make all the difference to changing customer needs and the profitability of a company for instance.
10 Quickest Ways to develop Your adaptability and flexibility skills
Research has has found that:
- People with higher levels of emotional intelligence and emotional resilience are significantly more likely to be able to adapt to new and changing situations.
- That people who are more adaptable tend to have greater job satisfaction. This confirms a number of other studies showing similar results.
- Lastly, that there is a link between job performance and adaptability over the long term. This they think is linked to role flexibility and the ability to understand the context the job sits in.
To really understand what’s going on with people in a given situation, you need to tune in to what’s going on beneath the surface. Take control of the situation by adapting your style and behavior and by responding in a way that eases the transaction and promotes a productive outcome.
2. Go for more variety:
Get out of your comfort zone. Put yourself into very different situations than those you typically encounter. Operating in a variety of situations and roles will help you become more flexible and adaptable.
3. Listen more:
When you listen, you’re suspending judgement. You’re taking in information that will allow you to select the best response to the situation. Elicit and listen to as much information as you can about what’s going on. Use that information to adapt your behavior as needed.
4. Exercise emotional intelligence
A much-discussed focus of self-management skills courses, particularly those offered in graduate business programs, emotional intelligence means controlling and filtering one’s emotions in a constructive manner. This leads to easier adaptation when working with new teams and developing a better rapport with colleagues.
5. For those who are naturally flexible
Be sure to promote and take advantage of your natural strength in this area – but ensure you are aware that the strongest employees will both be adaptable AND have some of the planning/ to- do-list skills of the other group.
6. For those who are very organised (but less naturally flexible)
Hold onto your valuable organisational skills, but it is good also to recognise its limitations and push yourself to combine them with flexibility and strive to be comfortable with the impact of change. You could even build in some time to cope with the unexpected into that plan! You might even have the advantage over others as you will have used your planning and organising skills to change your behaviour!
7. Consider the bigger picture
Our inclination is to pull things apart and solve the little bits one at a time. In complexity, the system is moving too fast and has too many interrelated parts for us to use this more comfortable approach with success for long.
Instead, when things are really moving fast, it’s time to look at the interactions. It’s like watching a game of ice hockey: If you follow the puck with your eyes, you’ll be lost. If you zoom out and look at the patterns of the players on the ice, you’ll see the game.
When you find yourself being drawn to the minutiae, see if you can find the patterns. When you feel yourself bouncing back and forth between two details, instead of thinking of them as opposites, see what balance you can strike between the two sides.
8. Accept multiple perspectives
We often think we have taken a wide variety of perspectives into consideration when really we have mostly just asked the people whose ideas we already knew about. Our natural habits are to crave alignment and to work to convince those whose opinions really differ (or ignore them).
When you’re dealing with a complex situation, each person’s perspective is too small–and a group that’s aligned with a single perspective is collectively missing important pieces. We need to get out of our own way.
You can do this by seeking out perspectives that are different and–here’s the key–not trying to convince anyone (especially ourselves) that we’re right.
You can tell you’re not taking someone’s perspective into consideration if you think of him as a moron or not getting it; this means there’s no way to learn from what his perspective might teach you.
Try holding back on forming an opinion and instead actively listen to the person you have written off as a lost cause, the group of people at work who seem so different from you that you don’t even know their names, or even the one who has seemed close to you but now seems to have a bee in her bonnet about something. Keep asking yourself, “In what ways could I be wrong or missing something?”
9. Learn how to balance your life
Trying to succeed in all aspects of life is great, but you risk ending up feeling miserable in case of a failure. Create a balanced life, instead. After all, it’s impossible to adapt to all changes in all aspects of life, no matter how strong you are.
When you’re balanced, you feel grounded, calm, clear-headed, inspired and motivated. Take time to look at your life, and figure out the aspects of it that you are either neglecting or paying too much attention to.
You know you’re in a state of imbalance when you don’t feel good and you’re stretching yourself to fill the gaps.
10. Stop waiting
… for the right time, right place, success, happiness, money, people, you name it. Just stop waiting.
When it comes to adaptability, there’s no ‘right’ moment. You have to take action to cope with the hard stuff. You can either influence or accept it. There’s no other choice.
Adaptability isn’t a part of success; it’s a part of life. It’s vital for a happy life. Although some people are adaptable to circumstances by nature, you can master this skill as well. It will take time, patience and effort, but it will all be worth it in the end.