Adaptability in the Workplace: Benefits, Skills, Tips (2021)

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The workplace is always changing. Between digital transformation and the ongoing hurdles that COVID-19 presents to the traditional office, adaptability and flexibility is key for employees to meet the demands of an ever-changing workplace and climb the corporate ladder.

We’ll cover the basics of adaptability in the workplace, and how successful leaders and organizations are not only able to adapt to change – but embrace it.

What Is Adaptability?

Adaptability is the ability of your business and its employees to change their work approach and processes according to new conditions and challenges. Accordingly, increasing the adaptability of your workplace involves developing the skills and willingness to learn new ways of doing things and shift focus towards new goals.

Types of Adaptability Skills

Adaptability skills are the skills that enable your business to adjust to changes in your industry and market sector, as well as changes within the business itself. They allow you to respond faster to new ideas, responsibilities, expectations, and strategies. As a result, they can be critical to implementing a change management strategy

Key adaptability skills include:

  • Communication
  • Relationship building
  • Problem-solving
  • Creative and strategic thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Organization and productivity

Benefits of Adaptability Skills in the Workplace

Developing adaptability skills gives your workplace and employees a number of valuable benefits that can be applied in a wide variety of scenarios. The most obvious advantage of becoming more adaptable is of course, that your team members are more prepared to embrace new challenges.

When your current way of doing things does not limit your thinking and approach to problem-solving, new challenges and goals become more manageable and even enjoyable, rather than seeming like insurmountable challenges that you dread. It also enables your business to stay relevant and competitive under changing market conditions

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8 Tips to Develop Adaptability Skills in 2022

Adaptability is a trait that covers a huge range of skills and mindsets. It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to making your workplace more adaptable for change.

Following these 8 tips will help you develop a broad toolset of skills that will enable your business to adapt to whatever the future may bring.

1. Listen to other viewpoints

Most people pay attention to less than a quarter of everything that is said to them during a given day. Listening to other people’s ideas is a critical adaptability skill that everyone can benefit from working on.

One of the most important aspects of adaptability is having the understanding that your current way of thinking or doing things might not be the best way forward anymore and that you don’t always have all the answers. As a result, the perspectives and viewpoints of everyone in your business are hugely valuable. 

That doesn’t mean you need to act on every suggestion, but being open to ideas for improvement encourages employees to think about solutions and new strategies. Conversely, suppose you frequently shoot down or ignore any new ideas. In that case, employees will learn to keep their suggestions to themselves and stop thinking about improving and adapting the business, as their suggestions are not valued.

If you disagree with someone’s idea or suggestion, try to understand their viewpoint and why they think it will work instead of telling them why you think it won’t. They might see something that you missed, and you’ll need to understand their viewpoint to assess their idea accurately.

2. Use the right communication tools

When you implement a change, it is important to get detailed employee feedback to understand how it impacts your team’s workflows and listen to their suggestions on how to handle any issues with the changes that may pop up.

Using the right tools to communicate and gather this feedback is vital for understanding the impact changes to your workplace have on employees and their productivity and motivation. A culture of transparency makes it easier for people to raise issues that are affecting them directly, but you still need to get that feedback from the right people in a way that provides useful and actionable data.

Different communication channels each have their strengths and uses, for example:

  • Email: Organizations that enable more open communication about business decisions are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their competitors. Email is great for getting detailed feedback through longer surveys and available questions that enable people to give feedback in their own words.
  • Text Messaging: SMS solutions are great for quickly getting responses to simple, multiple questions that focus on a specific subject, such as getting employee feedback on a new tool or process. Most texts are read within minutes of delivery, making this a great way to ask employees for feedback on a process or tool they have just used while it is fresh in their minds.
  • Instant Messaging: Instant messaging enables quick and informal feedback, and team apps often include polling tools to get group feedback on workplace changes. Almost 60% of workers do not believe that anything they say on their work messaging apps is private, however, which can affect the accuracy of the feedback you collect.

3. Be willing to change

1 in 3 people says they will always avoid change where possible. Being stuck in your old approaches and processes is the opposite of being adaptable. You need to be willing to try out new methods and throw out old ones that are not working anymore. If you are resistant to change how your business operates, how can you improve it?

Tracking the performance of every aspect of your workplace, and regularly evaluating its effectiveness, is vital to ensuring that nothing is overlooked when you searching for areas for improvement.

This does not mean you should completely overhaul a process or the tools your teams use for only minor productivity improvements or simply for the sake of change. But if you are not willing to consider overhauling a system, you could miss out on major potential improvements through a lack of investigating the possibilities.

4. Always work on personal development

Developing your own skills is just as important as making changes to the way your team operates. Be proactive in thinking about the skills your team will need in the future, and ensure everyone in your team has opportunities to get additional training and skills that will enable them to excel in their role. There are many different online learning platforms that have thousands of courses available for whatever skills your team needs.

5. Volunteer for new projects

You can only develop any skill so far without putting it into practice. Working on new projects that will test your expanded skillset or require you to learn new things is a great way to build confidence in your adaptability, as you get to put your new skills to use and see their impact in a real-world scenario.

6. Make suggestions and participate in discussions

Being able to put forward your own ideas and viewpoints is just as important as being open to other people’s suggestions. Making suggestions of your own, being able to explain your reasoning, and responding to a critique of your ideas is a vital part of being adaptable. Without it, you might have great ideas for how your team can adapt to a new challenge but struggle to get others on board with the idea because they can’t see how it will work or why you believe in it.

7. Keep up with trends in your industry

Staying on top of the latest tools, techniques, and trends makes you more adaptable because it greatly reduces the amount of learning and training you need to do when it becomes time to adopt new methods.

If you are already familiar with the latest tools and processes, you will already be ready to take on the challenge when a new project requires them. Providing regular training for employees to future-proof their skillsets also makes taking on new challenges much less daunting, as they will feel more prepared for the task ahead.

8. Be resourceful and scrappy

Resourcefulness is a trait that greatly complements adaptability. While adaptability is your ability and flexibility to change your methods and use new tools, resourcefulness is your ability to use your existing tools and methods to their best use according to the current situation. Finding new ways to work within your current tools and limitations is important because overhauling major parts of your business can take time and money, and you also need to be able to adapt even when this is not possible.

Adaptability is the key to organizational and personal growth

You can’t expect your business to improve and grow if you don’t develop the ability to change your methods and take on new challenges. Using these tips will help prepare your team for the future of your business. Learning new skills is a vital part of adaptability, and the right employee training software can make a huge difference in your team’s ability to respond to change.

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