Adaptability & flexibility are skills that are highly sought-after by employers. This blog explains exactly what it means to be adaptable, why it’s so valuable in the workplace and how you can develop your adaptability.
Being adaptable and flexible is about your ability to quickly and effectively adjust to changing circumstances.
It means you can switch easily between tasks at work, for example, or adjust your working style according to the people you’re collaborating with.
When you’re adaptable:
- You’re able to roll with the punches
- You’re flexible in your behaviours and attitude
- And, most importantly, you have a positive attitude to change
While some of us are more naturally adaptable than others, it isn’t just about innate ability; adaptability is a skill that you can learn.
Cognitive flexibility can be seen as the engine that powers adaptability: it’s about your ability to switch from one train of thought to another or between concepts.
This means that, when faced with a new piece of information or a new scenario, you’re able to shift your way of thinking to accommodate this change. The quicker and better you can do this, the more responsive you’ll become and the easier it will be to juggle different tasks.
It will also help you to become more agile as you’ll be more prepared to navigate changes and problems when they do arrive.
To be truly adaptable you need to have a willingness to learn. New situations often require you to develop new skills and approaches, so you need to be able to take on the challenge and expand your capabilities accordingly.
A healthy curiosity towards things you don’t know is definitely a plus, but it’s mostly about having the right attitude and believing that, with the right level of effort and dedication, you can develop the attributes you need to successfully manage whatever work, or life, throws at you.
Resourcefulness is about your ability to come up with quick, clever and creative solutions and ideas, by making connections and using tools or resources that others might not think to make or use.
Resourceful people are a big asset to an organisation’s ability to adapt because they can navigate and mitigate potential obstacles with speed and agility, effectively and efficiently preventing delays and allowing the organisation to maintain its course or choose a better one.
Resourcefulness combines creativity and innovation with tenacity – a determination to find a solution by looking at the situation differently from those who have resigned themselves to the circumstances.
The more versatile your skillset, the more likely you are to embrace challenges with confidence, handle a variety of different tasks and successfully adapt to changing circumstances.
But it’s not all about skills; versatility in the way you communicate with others, your working style, your outlook and the perspectives you can bring, your leadership style and how you behave in different team settings all support your adaptability.
Why these skills are important to you and employers
In terms of your everyday performance, adaptability skills help you to be as productive as you can be, allowing you to switch between different tasks more seamlessly and more effectively handle changes whether that’s to your to-do-list, a project you’re working on or your responsibilities at work. As a result, you’ll become a more effective and confident team member and leader.
Looking at the bigger picture, being adaptable is key in supporting your career well-being and development as it pushes you to keep learning and evolve as you go along. It also plays a key role in allowing you to work through changes and challenges, which, in turn, helps you become more resilient.
It’s no wonder then that companies are increasingly looking for candidates with strong adaptability skills as they are the ones that have the potential to grow in their roles, thrive in an ever-changing workplace and help drive innovation.
The increasing speed of technological change that companies are now dealing with also means that having people on board who are able to adapt to new processes and systems has become more important than ever.
Stay tuned for part 2 which will cover how you can develop these skills…
Want to find out more about jobs that suit your skills?
- Go on to the Careers & Enterprise Hub, and under ‘Resources’ click on ‘Labour Market Information’. There, you can ‘explore by skills’ – just click on at least 3 skills, and it’ll show you job roles that match!
- If you click on the job role, it’ll give you more information about average salary, what the role entails etc.