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Adaptability in the workplace means being flexible, and having the ability to adapt easily to changing work conditions.
To illustrate the concept of adaptability, let’s begin by imagining a soccer team. Every single person on that team has a different role and a different purpose, but with a common aim - which is to put the ball in the back of the goal net as many times as possible. Team members collectively and individually have to make themselves adaptable to every scenario that arises on the playing field. This way of thinking applies not just to soccer players - it applies to you and your work colleagues too.
Today's work environment is constantly changing. New and unexpected events happen frequently. When something unexpected happens in the workplace, you tend to be judged by peers and management on the actions you have taken to overcome the problem or adapt to the changing situation.
To adapt to new and ever-changing situations, you need to be able to look at problems in different ways and find new solutions you hadn't considered before. Most of us unconsciously have strong-held beliefs and fixed mind-sets which cause us to react negatively to new challenges and to people around us.
Highly adaptable people have an open view of the world. They are, with practice, able to solve problems more easily, enjoy a deeper imagination, and tend to be less affected emotionally by setbacks than others. These people can overcome or adjust their held beliefs and fixed mind-sets, and implement new ideas. But this takes a lot of work and persistence.
A recent study published in The European Journal of Social Psychology found that it took on average 66 days (not 21 days, as most people believed) to form a habit, such as eating fruit at lunch, or running for 15 minutes a day. So, it will be a formidable, but workable challenge for you to change your held beliefs and mind-set. Luckily, there are actions you can take to help cultivate an adaptable mind-set and to challenge your held beliefs.
Honestly listen to yourself and what you say or think in response to any new issues that arise. Are you commonly responding “I don’t have the time” or “I can’t find the time”? We could say that you should simply ‘make the time’, but that is not realistic. It's better to think with an open mind, and adapt your routine in order to prioritize the available time in your life. Reframe the task and ask yourself how important it is for you to complete it. If you truly need the time, you will find the time. With an open mind-set, you can easily reframe arising issues, adapt to new situations, and run with them.
Honestly listen to others and learn how to accept constructive feedback. Your held beliefs and mind-set may condition you to react to feedback as if it is a personal criticism. However, an open, adaptive mind-set welcomes feedback. As they say, ‘knowledge is power’ and knowledge fuels the ability to take and make decisions. Once you are aware of a situation, then you can decide whether or not you wish to change your behaviors.
Avoid using ‘qualifiers’ when discussing the possibility of adapting to a new direction or idea with other stakeholders. Qualifiers exist for nearly every situation. For example, "Don't take this personally, but...", "I know what you're thinking, but...", or "This might be a bad idea, but...".
However, if you do have the tendency to overuse them, it may have a detrimental effect on your personal credibility and overall likelihood of adapting and implementing a new idea. Use qualifiers sparingly, as they can often sound condescending or unnecessary.Back to Top
CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
When it comes to improving your personal skills in the workplace, four essential skills stand out: the ability to be more productive at work; the ability to adapt to a changing work environment; the ability to manage your time effectively; and the ability to deal with setbacks. This module focuses on enhancing your skills in these four critical areas.
When it comes to productivity, you will learn about the difference between being busy and being productive, and techniques you can use to increase your output and to deal with unwelcome distractions and interruptions.
The lesson on adaptability focuses on how to cultivate an adaptable mind-set at work, and how to find alternative – and innovative – solutions to problems by using tactics like brainstorming and mind-mapping.
The time-management lesson explains how to prioritize tasks and set goals, how to save and create time, and how to eliminate personal time stealers such as excessively viewing email or attending too many meetings.
The module concludes with a lesson on how to respond to setbacks in the workplace. You will discover the importance of demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity, and how to turn setbacks into valuable learning opportunities.
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