It’s no secret that the workplace is in a constant state of change. From the way we communicate to the way we work, everything about it is advancing, making adaptability an essential skill for all employees to have. But what exactly is workplace adaptability? And what makes it different from simply being flexible or open-minded?
In today’s blog, we’ll explain what adaptability in the workplace is, why honing these skills is important, and how to develop them.
Adaptability in the workplace is the ability to adjust to new situations and deal with change. Oftentimes people assume that adaptability simply means being flexible and open-minded but in truth, it’s more than that. Adaptation involves developing skills and abilities that allow you to make changes as necessary. It’s also about learning from past experiences so that you can make better decisions in the future. Adaptability helps people succeed in the workplace because it allows them to adjust quickly when circumstances differ. Rather than letting fear hinder their performance, adaptable employees embrace change as an opportunity to grow. For example, if a new manager requires employees to work in a different way than before, those who are adaptable will alter their habits to make the transition easier on themselves and their co-workers.
Adaptability and flexibility are both soft skills that are highly valued in the workplace. Although sometimes used interchangeably on resumes, cover letters, and job interviews, there are differences – although subtle - between them. Adaptability refers to a change in behaviour, whereas flexibility usually refers to a person giving more or less without changing their behaviour. For example, a person can be adaptable by moving to a new city for a job and flexible by agreeing to any start date.
According to the Center for Creative Leadership, workplace adaptability can be further broken down into three distinct components:
Employees with cognitive adaptability are able to integrate different thinking strategies into their planning, decision-making, and day-to-day work. They willingly learn from past experiences and are able to acknowledge when old approaches no longer suffice. Employees demonstrating cognitive adaptability take interest in establishing new approaches and connections. For example, these employees are often the first to learn new programs or take on new tasks.
Emotionally adaptable employees are able to maintain a positive attitude and remain calm under pressure. They typically handle stress well, stay positive in the face of adversity, and adapt to changes without feeling overwhelmed. Emotional adaptability also helps employees accept and acknowledge that every person is unique and experiences things differently. Understanding this can help employees make connections with all types of people, even those much different from them.
Having an adaptable personality allows employees to see a situation for what it is and what it can become. For instance, when facing a bad situation, those with adaptable personalities don’t dismiss it, but rather, recognize it and visualize how they can move forward. For these individuals, change is not a threat, but an opportunity.
Adaptability is essential in today’s workplace. It’s a core skill that many companies seek when hiring new employees. In fact, according to Indeed, adaptability is the most valued skill among employers. Regardless of the field you’re in, adaptability is vital to success. It allows employees to respond immediately to change and unexpected challenges rather than waiting on someone else to adjust on their behalf. The ability to adapt can also help boost employee well-being and reduce burnout. Using an adaptable mindset, employees are able to make the necessary alterations to deal with changing circumstances, so they don’t feel overwhelmed, overworked or under-appreciated.
There are several benefits that come with demonstrating strong adaptability skills in the workplace. Let’s spend some time looking at a few of them:
Adaptability is one of the most important skills you can have in your toolbox as a professional. If you have a fast-paced job where things are constantly changing or if you have multiple projects on the go, being adaptable can help you focus on what’s important without becoming distracted by other tasks which may not be as urgent.
Adaptable people stand out. Their eagerness to change and challenge conventional ways of thinking allows them to stay relevant in an ever-changing market. Being willing to try different programs, strategies, and techniques to achieve the best outcomes in a highly competitive environment is a great skill to have.
Did you know that challenging yourself actually changes your brain? According to Dr. Kathryn Papp, a neuropsychologist and instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, each time you learn a new skill or challenge your brain, it may create new connections between brain cells. This helps protect the brain and keep it more resilient in the face of challenges. One way to build this resilience is to practice facing various challenges and coming up with unique solutions for each. Over time this will teach your brain that nothing is unmanageable.
Think about some of the most successful leaders you know. What do they all have in common? Well, they all demonstrate resiliency when things don’t go as planned and view failure not as a setback but as an opportunity to learn and grow. Those who are adaptable excel as leaders. In fact, some of the most important leadership qualities have adaptability at their core.
Many skills support adaptability and understanding how they work together can help improve your flexibility, resilience, and ability to adapt to changing situations in the workplace. Here are seven soft skills that support adaptability:
To become adaptable in the workplace, one must demonstrate responsiveness. Responsiveness is the ability to adjust quickly and effectively to new challenges and opportunities. An individual who demonstrates this skill can adapt their behaviour or attitude to become more receptive to their surroundings. They answer urgent and essential requests promptly, take initiative and offer solutions to complex tasks.
Experimentation is a process often used by adaptable employees to find more efficient ways of accomplishing tasks. It promotes taking educated risks to find new solutions and then adjusting based on the results. Sometimes it is only through this trial and error that you’re able to determine the most effective solution. Thus, practicing experimentation can support adaptability in the workplace by testing new methods and offering various solutions.
Interpersonal skills are often referred to as people skills, social skills, or social intelligence. They can be both verbal and non-verbal behaviours and include how you relate to others, work together, as well as develop professional relationships. This set of skills helps you adapt to new situations while avoiding conflict and miscommunication.
Being adaptable determines how well you’re able to manage your time and produce results. Thus, it comes as no surprise that time management skills play a critical role in workplace adaptability. Someone with this skill set is able to manage their time efficiently by planning, prioritizing, and delegating tasks. They’re also likely to employ technology, like time management software, to schedule appointments, tasks, and events.
Demonstrating effective communication skills can significantly improve adaptability in the workplace. When you have a strong set of communication skills, you ask thought-provoking questions, actively listen to others, and successfully convey ideas clearly and concisely.
Organization skills provide us with a sense of order, both in our personal and professional lives. They include the ability to plan, organize and direct others in a way that supports our goals. These valuable skills also enhance workplace adaptability. By having organizing systems in place when an unexpected issue occurs, you can move swiftly and efficiently to address the situation at hand without any hiccups.
Creative and critical thinking skills help you analyze information and develop practical solutions. With creative thinking, employees are encouraged to look at things from a different perspective. Critical thinking, on the other hand, requires employees to be more logical and analytical. Together these intellectual skills support adaptability by creating an environment where employees can develop new approaches, concepts, and ideas that can propel a company forward.
For some of us, adaptability may come naturally. But like any soft skill, it can be developed and improved with practice. Here are seven ways you can become more adaptable in the workplace:
Learning helps us adapt to our environment and grow as individuals. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in a position, there’s always something new to learn. By embracing opportunities for learning, you will open your eyes to new possibilities and be able to make more informed decisions.
Learning from someone else’s experience can help you navigate future challenges. For example, if someone shares an experience about how they were able to overcome an obstacle at work, it could provide you with insight into how to approach similar problems in the future. Additionally, learning from others’ oversights may help you avoid similar mistakes down the road.
Problem-solving is an important skill that can help you become more adaptable to changes and challenges that arise in the workplace. It involves being able to identify problems, generate ideas for solutions, and evaluate options before taking action.
The ability to solve problems can help employees at all levels of an organization – from the front line to management – become more efficient in their careers. Here are a few ways you can improve your problem-solving skills:
Never be afraid to ask questions. Doing so opens the floor to new concepts and ideas that have yet to be considered. Asking thought-provoking questions, specifically, can help others embrace change and identify new opportunities for growth. It also shows employers that you’re interested in learning more about the company or project.
“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” – John Dewey. If you’re looking to improve your workplace adaptability, you must be willing to make a few mistakes. When we make mistakes, valuable lessons are learned, and new skills are developed. If you’re too afraid to make mistakes at work for fear of looking bad or losing credibility with your boss or colleagues, it will be incredibly difficult to adapt when things change or when unexpected problems arise. When you’re willing to make mistakes, you’re willing to try new things even if they don’t work out. This perseverance helps you navigate roadblocks more efficiently and get back on track when things take an unexpected detour.
Being flexible and open-minded opens us up to new experiences. It allows us to gain insight and take advantage of opportunities that may otherwise not exist. But thanks to pre-existing bias, doing so isn’t always easy...
Here are a few tips to help you become more flexible and open-minded:
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn.” – Helen Keller. Change, although often scary, is where the magic happens. It’s a natural part of life where massive personal growth takes place and learning to embrace it can help you become more adaptable in your career.
Our product line is a perfect example of how businesses can stay relevant in a dynamic market. With the advent of new technology and shifting consumer demands, companies and their employees need to be able to adapt to meet customer needs. That’s why we employ advanced technology like Solid Works and 3D printing to create our innovative amber lighting solutions. SWS pledges to continue innovating, adopting new technology and customizing our products to meet or exceed our customers’ requirements.
Contact us today to learn more about our line of innovative products and why you should choose SWS Warning Lights for your construction and heavy-vehicle fleets. Tom Chopp is Managing Partner at SWS Warning Lights Inc. he can be reached at 905-357-0222 or email@example.com
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