In my last blog post, ‘Want to future-proof your career? Adaptability is the number one power skill.’, I highlighted the importance of adaptability for career success. But how do you develop it?
Adaptability is a natural skill. While we may naturally be prone to being adaptable (or not), it can be developed and mastered as well. In this blog post, I want to explore how you can develop your adaptability for career success.
Adaptability relies on both mindset and behaviour, and one can’t exist without the other. So, let’s look at shifts you can make in each of those:
Mindset Shifts needed to develop your adaptability for career success
Let’s look first at the four shifts in mindset you need to make:
1. Change your Thought Process
Being adaptable means being willing to learn and try new things. Let go of the “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality. Embrace change and look at it as an opportunity to improve, learn, and grow. This also means being open to the thoughts and opinions of others, i.e. different perspectives. Your willingness to improve also shows your commitment to your professional growth.
2. Learn to Acknowledge and Accept Change
It can also be beneficial to acknowledge that changes are bound to occur and accept them when they do. Learning to acknowledge and accept changes can help you prepare and adapt to differing circumstances.
3. Force Yourself to Step out of your Comfort Zone and Take Risks
Little progress is made without risk. When you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll be presented with new situations you wouldn’t typically come across. The more you do this, the better you’ll be able to exhibit your adaptability and assess how best to approach new scenarios. Start small and get support by talking it through with your colleagues, supervisor or mentor.
4. 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. Though making a mistake can be disheartening, it also provides you with various opportunities. Learn from your mistakes, share your newfound knowledge and test alternative solutions. Then, the chances are these mistakes will form some of the most important lessons you will learn throughout your working life. Change your mindset when it comes to your mistakes in the workplace. The better you are at embracing your mistakes, the more adaptable you’ll be at managing the fallout.
Behaviour Shifts needed to develop your adaptability for career success
Now let’s look at seven behaviour shifts that will help you develop your adaptability:
1. Observe and Track Changes in your Environment
Make a conscious effort to watch trends. Compare present observations with past ones and look for changes. For instance, you might observe changes in budgets. Or changes in policies, procedures and other operational processes and practices. Or changes in people’s values, attitudes etc What’s different?
2. Embrace Learning
People who are curious and stay current tend to be adaptable. This means you need to embrace learning. Read up about new technologies in your industry sector. Go to seminars on how to cut costs while maintaining efficiency and quality. Learn about process improvement. Connect with colleagues who embrace learning and learn from them, read what they read, etc.
3. Practise Deliberately, not Mindlessly
Experts (compared to novices) take a much more deliberate approach to trying improve their performance. They adopt more specific goals about how they will improve their performance as well as what improvement they’re aiming for.
4. Focus on Improving not Proving
When you approach a new task, focus more on what you can learn from it rather than on performing well, or on avoiding failure. If you see challenges as opportunities to improve, you will be more accepting of failure. And that is a necessary step towards better performance.
5. Find the Positive
Many things in life and in the workplace don’t go as planned. When this happens, focus on the positive. Start by noting down what went well, even if things weren’t a complete success. Consider what you’re able to take away from these situations that you don’t need to change or improve.
6. Ask for Feedback
Request feedback from others on what you did well and how you might improve in future. Positive and constructive feedback can be beneficial for building on the positives and continue to improve.
7. Learn from Others
Consider asking your co-workers how they perform certain tasks and handle certain situations. One of the greatest ways to learn adaptability is to not only observe but actively seek advice from others who excel in this area. Make sure your questions are professional and well thought out.
Think back over the last 14 months. Which of these strategies helped you adapt to the changes that were thrust upon us by the pandemic? Which strategies continue to help you cope with the uncertainty that we’re still living with?
In a world that is going to continue to throw new and unexpected situations at us, the need for adaptability is crucial to future success. The more you can adapt to changing circumstances, the better employee you’ll be.
If you want to expand your skill set, our self-paced online learning programmes are a great way to learn and upskill at your own pace.