Today’s world is fraught with risk and uncertainty, of risk and unstability. You just have to look at 2020 to see what I am talking about. Our world is constantly changing and we can’t remain as we were, because if we do, we run the risk of losing out.
According to the Cambridge English dictionary, Adaptability is an ability or willingness to change in order to suit different conditions. What this means is that you need to change or be willing to change yourself so as to adapt yourself to the different situations you will come across in life.
So why is adaptability so important today? I believe it is a life skill that if not innate, should be learnt and fast so that as an individual you are agile and are able to tackle any issues or problems in your life, be it at work or in your personal life. Actually we are constantly adapting. The easiest example I can think is in the kitchen. Sometimes you don’t have all the ingredients at hand while cooking, so we substitute ingredients, adapting in the process.
Adaptability is not just about changing something or adjusting to a situation. It encompasses being able to effect changes in a course of action with smoothness and timeliness, without any major setbacks. For as long as there are many uncontrollable factors in our environment such as laws and economic factors, it is necessary to acquire this skill. It is one of the key skills or factors that keep many multinational companies running and the reason why some professionals are always in demand. This skill is important because as new technology evolves, employers are looking for employees who can demonstrate strong adaptability skills and become company leaders.
Adaptability in the workplace means being able to change in order to become successful. In the work environment, adaptability is a soft skill that refers to the ability to rapidly learn new skills and behaviours in response to evolving circumstances. Employers typically look for adaptability when hiring new staff, and the skill is increasingly included in job descriptions due to its importance for growth and development within a role. Someone who demonstrates adaptability in the workplace is flexible and is able to respond effectively to their working conditions, even in situations where things do not go as planned. They typically work well on their own and with team members. The need for adaptability in the workplace – to learn and unlearn – is crucial to future success.
People in leadership positions are often expected to manage unusual situations without explicit instruction. Therefore, an adaptable leader must be able to resolve problems in a fast-paced environment and trust their judgment when making tough decisions. However, at the same time, still recognising that what worked before may not necessarily work every time. So adaptability is a critical leadership skill and potential leaders need to be adaptable and flexible at all times to succeed.
How important can being adaptable be? Well, the short answer is very, as it’s a skill that has no bounds in the ways 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 thinking and actions, challenges become something not to dread, but to seize and enjoy working through. An adaptable person gets to engage a variety of people with diverse skills to get the job done and builds broad networks of highly engaged and capable people. An adaptable person also becomes a better leader because such people know that change is inevitable and don’t shy from it and remain positive in the face of adversity, keeping their teams and employees focused and motivated through tough or lacklustre periods. Those who are adaptable and willing to change or shake up conventional ways of doing things will remain relevant throughout their working lives because they’re comfortable experimenting. Workplaces are changing faster than ever before, and if you’re not willing to constantly adapt, then expect to be left behind.
Everyone can all benefit from adaptability but, in an ever-changing world, it is particularly crucial for leaders. Leadership roles become more complex as you progress through an organisation, requiring more subtle influencing and persuading skills. Additionally, as a leader’s seniority increases, they must learn to empower, delegate, form strategic alliances and let go of some of the skills that enabled them to perform effectively in previous roles.
Adaptability skills are skill sets that encompass a person’s ability to adjust to changes in their environment. Being adaptable in your career can mean you are able to respond quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes at work. Being adaptable also means possessing soft skills like interpersonal, communication, creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
As a soft skill, adaptability requires a number of other soft skills in order to be applied successfully. You must be able to learn quickly and put that learning into practice. Additionally, you must be able to recollect what you’ve discovered, so you can identify trends and make decisions accordingly. So what constitutes an adaptability skill?
An ability to learn: People with adaptability skills are never discouraged by failure. For them, failure is just a part of learning. These people are always learning and willing to take risks, as long as it means that they can develop personally and professionally. Skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, research, show continuous Improvement, have an attention to detail, be observant and have a great memory.
Persistence: People who adapt well rarely feel the pressure to quit. Every challenge is exciting, and remaining dedicated to their job means pushing through even when things get hard. Likewise, they are able to stay positive and encourage their team members to stay focused during difficult times. Skills that are emblematic of persistence include resilience, positivity, tolerance to stress, motivation and being able to manage expectations.
Resourcefulness: Often the goal is clear, but the path to get there is not. The traditional way of conducting business may not be possible or effective, because there may not be sufficient funding or staffing. That’s where adaptability can be an asset. An adaptable person will be able to source new resources and techniques that less-adaptable colleagues haven’t considered. An adaptable person will show resourcefulness by demonstrating skills like the ability to notice patterns, be creative and innovative, a problem solver, show initiative and curiosity and budget well.
Curiosity: An adaptable person doesn’t get scared by anything different. If anything, it makes them more curious and they want to investigate it further. They are not afraid of ideas, suggestions, or constructive criticism and often demonstrate open-mindedness, investigation, positivity, active listening, nonverbal communication skills and diversity.
Other skills that showcase adaptability include leadership, integrity, determination, team building, analytical, inductive and deductive reasoning, project management and team work, empathy, resource, conflict and time management, problem solving, strategic thinking and being able to conceptualise, flexibility and commitment, being proactive and open and having excellent negotiation, oral and written communication skills.
Being adaptable can depend on how effectively you communicate with your teammates and managers.
Adaptability is a natural skill, but it can be developed and mastered as well. Here are some tips to help improve this skill:
Observe and monitor changes in the environment: People do not see the need for a change until they notice changes in the environment. Adaptability must not be easy, but timely as well. Always make a conscious effort to monitor trends, values and attitudes and compare present observations with past ones and find out what has changed.
Develop a growth mindset: Being adaptable also means being willing to learn and try new things. Developing a growth mindset can positively influence the ability to take on new challenges, find new opportunities to develop knowledge and contribute to new projects. The willingness and motivation to keep improving skills can also show potential and current employer a commitment to professional growth.
Be willing to learn: Observation alone is not enough. If the result of observations suggests a need to learn something new, do not hesitate to do so. While people can learn some things on their own when furnished with appropriate educational resources, others may require tutorials from specialists. Don’t decline to use the services of a professional tutor if necessary.
Avoid procrastination: Don’t just be willing to learn. Take the necessary course of action. Remember that adaptations are more effective when the action is taken earlier.
Acknowledge the fact that changes are bound to occur: Though it is difficult to let go of norms, it is people who matter, not an individual.
Set goals for one’s self: Another method that can help develop adaptability skills might be to set personal goals to improve those aspects of the skillset that are felt to be lacking so the individual can improve their overall ability to adapt to changes in the workplace.
Ask for feedback: As people develop throughout their your career, they might think about requesting feedback or constructive criticism from managers to help them improve on their weaker skills. Positive and constructive feedback can be beneficial for setting goals and achieving success in their career.
Learn to acknowledge and accept change: It can also be highly beneficial to accept change as it occurs. Learning to acknowledge changes in their career can help prepare and adapt to differing circumstances. Additionally, learning how to be willing to accept change can be an effective step toward recognising when adjustments need to be made to make transitions smoother.
Other than the above, some additional tips to help adaptability skills in the workplace include asking for clarifications from peers and superiors to help better process transitions when there are changes to processes, procedures or operational practices. Offer to request for opportunities to work on tasks that may be new or offer to take on responsibilities that require creative approaches. If sharing your ideas with colleagues is something that causes anxiety, set a goal to contribute to team meetings and collaborations. Try getting all aspects of work organised like documents, paperwork, projects and other work information, so everything is prepared in case there are transitions within a job.
An individual can also highlight adaptability skills on resumes or cover letters by showing concrete examples of successes due to these skills. During an interview, highlight adaptability skills by providing the interviewer with examples of how these were applied in past roles and use past experiences and achievements to help answer the interviewer’s questions in a way that shows adaptability.
Being someone who is adaptable is a skill that will stand in good stead all your life, whether in the personal or professional life. Learning how to adapt to change is a soft skill that will not only make the individual a top candidate when applying for roles, but one that has the capacity to give them a renewed optimism about work. It’s a brilliant life skill that has great application in both personal and professional life, so if an individual does not yet have those skills, its time to start implementing these tips to strengthen the adaptability skills today.