Adaptability skills

There are very few successful people or organisations who got to where they are by simply doing the same thing. In fact, great leaders seek out change and pursue it feverishly, understanding that to be truly innovative and ahead of trends, you must embrace change. But being adaptable is not just about embracing change.

Being adaptable means being a perpetual optimist and exhibiting extraordinary resilience. Adaptability skills can be possessed both in both attitude and action, and one can’t exist without the other. Learn how you can adapt to change better with these tips.

Benefits of being adaptable

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. Here are three benefits of having strong adaptability skills:

  • You’ll embrace challenges better
    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 your thinking and actions, challenges become something not to dread, but to seize and enjoy working through. As someone who is adaptable you’ll also be willing to engage a variety of people with diverse skills to get the job done, building broad networks of highly engaged and capable people as you go.
     
  • You’ll become a better leader
    Great leaders know that change is inevitable, and they don’t shy away from it. They also remain positive in the face of adversity, keeping their teams and employees focused and motivated through tough or lacklustre periods. Great leaders are also open-minded and considered, knowing that solutions and brilliance can be found in many places. They’re never quick to disregard solutions that might be viable. All these important leadership qualities have adaptability at their core, and rely on an ability to adapt to, and embrace change. 
     
  • You’ll always be relevant 
    People who are willing to change, or shake up conventional ways of doing things will remain relevant throughout their working lives because they’re comfortable experimenting. Whether it means trialling a new project management system to better adapt to your growing organisation, or completely reengineering how you manage teams, be willing to trial different tools, strategies and techniques to achieve the best outcomes. Workplaces are changing faster than ever before, and if you’re not willing to constantly adapt, then expect to be left behind.

How to develop your adaptability skills

Want to know how to adapt to change? It’s a skill that takes practice and commitment, but it is within reach for employees across all industries. Consider adaptability a must-have soft skill if you’re aspiring for a leadership role at your organisation. Here’s how to advance your adaptability skills:

  • Learn from others
    As is the case with learning a whole range of critical soft skills, learning to better navigate change and become adaptable is best done from others. Do you admire how Fiona from finance consistently delivers fiscal results with a positive message for the future, even if targets have been missed? Or perhaps you like how Sean brings in members of different teams to brainstorm solutions to the IT team’s challenges? Take notes when these people exhibit the adaptability skills you’re keen to learn, or ask them directly for tips and guidance. While you can learn from people both inside and external to your organisation, if you’re learning from those internally, you’ll get the added benefit of learning how the skills are applied best to the organisation, its values and its people.
     
  • Find the silver lining
    Extracting positives from situations or projects that don’t go as planned can be hard, particularly if the loss was big, or a significant deadline was missed. However, being able to find the silver lining in all the work you do is a brilliant example of adaptability skills in action, as it requires you to reset and reframe your focus, often taking a step back and viewing things less critically and more objectively. If you find it hard to identify the positives, start by noting down what you learn when things don’t go as planned, factoring this exercise in as a crucial part of your review strategy. The more you engage in this process the more optimism you’ll find you have, and the easier it will be to change tack and overcome challenges next time.
     
  • Be willing to make mistakes 
    No one’s perfect, and making mistakes is a very human and very real thing that will happen throughout your career. While making an error can be frustrating, or even humiliating, it’s how you manage the aftermath that counts, and this phase that will help improve your adaptability skills. If you learn from your mistakes, share newfound knowledge and test alternative solutions, then chances are these mistakes will form some of the most important lessons you will learn throughout your working life. 
     
  • Ask questions
    Just as they must embrace change to grow, the best leaders and organisations among us usually haven’t achieved success by working alone. They have inspiring mentors, innovative colleagues and gifted networks they can lean on for support, ask question of and debate ideas with. Asking questions is a great way to learn more and challenge established ways of doing things, a key component of being adaptable. Just make sure that your questions are well researched and delivered professionally, to ensure you receive the most valuable answers.

Learning how to adapt to change is a soft skill that will not only make you a top candidate when applying for roles, but one that has the capacity to give you a renewed optimism about your work. It’s a brilliant life skill that has great application in both your personal and professional life, so start implementing these tips to strengthen your adaptability skills today.