Adaptability is the quality of being able to adjust in new conditions. Similarly, adaptability in the workplace is a skill to effectively respond to changing environment at work. In simpler words, adaptability skills also known as being flexible to change.
Adaptability is the capacity to quickly and calmly adjust to any change. This skill also helps one to deal with unexpected problems or situation effectively. Adaptability in the workplace also means keeping positive attitude towards any change in the organization and adapting to change with open mind.
Importance of adaptability in the workplace
According to a research done last year, 74% of businesses have undergone a restructure in the past five years. Leaders in each organization always work toward continuous improvement. This also leads to continuous thinking, exploring, debating and implementing changes. Further, each initiative of change and improvement requires few or all employees also to change the way they work. While leaders work with employees to make any change smooth, they also expect employees to show openness and adaptable towards change. As a result, skill of adaptability in the workplace becomes valuable for any organization.
How to develop skill of adaptability in the workplace?
Adaptability skill is among core soft skills required for success at workplace. As seen above, employees with adaptability skills are valued more in any organization. Below are 7 ways you develop skills of adaptability in the workplace:
1) Accept the change:
For those who do not want change in life, must understand that:
“Only permanent thing in the world is change.”Tweet
Same rule applies when it comes to workplace. You like it or not, things are going to change. It may be your structure, team, boss, way of working or sometimes the complete business model. So it is important to come out of normal human tendency to resist change and instead accept it. Being mentally ready for change will reduce your fear to change and anxiety. So try to take out what is good for you form the change and accept it keeping those good points in mind.
2) Overcome inner resistance to change:
As per Buddhist teaching,
“Change is never painful, only the resistance to change is painful.”
To overcome our inner resistance to change, let’s understand the reason why do we resist to any change. Most obvious and common reason is the fear of unknown and uncertainty. This normally comes when we do not understand the change completely and reason for the change. So the only way to overcome this fear and uncertainty is to understand the change first. Speak to people who are involved in the process of change and get more clarity. More you get clarity about the reason of change and understand it correctly, less will be the fear.
Another reason for resistance to change is feeling of losing control. To this, you first need to understand that losing control does not mean losing your job. If you want to retain control because you are perfectionist then only way to overcome this is to have less demand for perfection. One more reason people love retaining control is to prove their importance in the system or organization. Only advice for such mentality is, it is not going to take you anywhere. Your importance in the organization comes with your responsibility and not with your control.
3) Be open minded:
Being open minded is to allow yourself to experience new ideas, thoughts and also challenge your existing beliefs. We are grown up with many belief systems. These systems are mix of good and bad. Instead of sticking to our old belief systems, it is always good habit to keep questioning our beliefs. Further being open to improve or change our beliefs whenever we get better alternative. To practice being open minded you can motivate yourself to try new things continuously. It can be as simple as going to new place or trying new food or new activity. This will automatically develop habit to question your existing belief system with open mind.
4) Be ready to learn:
Many times adapting to change doesn’t just happen with preparing yourself mentally for it. For example technological change demand you to learn new ways of working. We must also be ready to update and upgrade ourselves to such changes. You are never too old to learn new things. In fact learning new things will give you more power to face the changing world with confidence. It will also remove the risk of being outdated.
5) Keep positive attitude:
Important of all is to keep positive attitude towards any change. You cannot adapt to any change if you approach it with a negative attitude. It will further stop you from getting ready for the change and adapt it.
6) Focus on your core values:
While adapting to change, it is important that we do not compromise with our core values and organization culture. This point reminds me the tagline of future group:
“Rewrite rules, retain values”
This is a perfect example of being flexible at the same time keeping core values intact. Sometimes changes are so fast or so early that it comes with many doubts and questions while adapting to it. Golden rule to address such situations is to ensure we are driven by core values at the same time being flexible towards the way of our working.
7) Be optimistic (See the bigger picture):
Being optimistic helps you to be more adaptable as it allows you to find and see positive things towards any change. This does not mean ignoring key facts. It only means start to see any change from more positive light. In other words, see the bigger picture for any change. See what are larger benefits and how can it help to improve you further. This will also motivate you to accept any change and be adaptable at your work.
When flexible employees are asked to take a new assignment, they never say “It’s not my job”. Further, being flexible also means modifying approach to given tasks based on the preference of stakeholders or demand of situation. This is what makes flexible people more successful. Since it makes leader’s job of continuous improvement much easy to implement. Being flexible is not just important for success at work place, but it is also important part of leading happy life. It surely takes patience and efforts to master the skill with ways given above. With practice you can master the skill of adaptability in the workplace.
All success is successful adaptation. All Failure is a failure to adapt– Max McKeown
Author Max McKeown powerfully explains importance of the skill in his book Adaptability: The Art of Winning In An Age of Uncertainty. The book gives real-world examples from business, government, the military and also sport to show the importance of adaptability. According to McKeown, Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.
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