Adaptability means being flexible when things change. An adaptable person is one who is open to new ideas and concepts, to working independently or as part of a team and to carrying out multiple tasks or projects. Someone is regarded as adaptable if they are able to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments.
Adaptability is about:
- Solving problems creatively – Adapting to novel situations or dynamic and changing situations frequently requires finding a solution for new and unfamiliar problems. A creative approach is best to solve the atypical, ill-defined and complex problems that confront today’s work situations and organizations.
- Dealing with uncertain/unpredictable work situations – It may be necessary to demonstrate adaptability in relation to a wide variety of unpredictable and uncertain work situations which can result from many different factors, including such things as formal organizational restructuring, shifting business priorities, reductions or changes in available resources, or joining a new organization or group.
- Learning new tasks, technologies and procedures – You may have to consider new ways to perform a job or learn different skill sets or tasks for a job or new career. Today’s employees are increasingly faced with technical innovation that is forcing them to learn new ways to perform their jobs. Workers can no longer expect to learn one job or one set of skills that will suit the needs of an entire career.
- Interpersonal adaptability – More fluid work environments, characterized by the shift from manufacturing-oriented businesses to service oriented businesses, have made interpersonal adaptability an important skill.
- Cultural adaptability – The globalization of the business environment, coupled with the extent to which workers today change jobs and organizations, requires the ability to perform effectively in different cultures and environments.
- Physically-oriented adaptability – Adapting quickly and effectively to different physical conditions, such as heat, noise, uncomfortable climates and difficult environments, is required in many different jobs, for example, environmental sciences, research jobs, foreign service jobs, law enforcement officers, expedition and travel-related jobs.
How to improve/demonstrate your adaptability:
- Unpredictability – Adjust to, and deal with the unpredictable nature of situations. In situations where there is inherent uncertainty and ambiguity, take reasonable action to prepare for eventualities using a common sense approach.
- Professional development – Plan for, and participate in your own professional development to prepare for anticipated future job requirements. Get informed and keep skilled up! Anticipate future employment needs and adapt to changing job requirements by learning new tasks, technologies, procedures and roles.
- Flexibility – Shift your orientation or focus as efficiently and smoothly as possible when the situation demands. Adjust your interpersonal style to achieve goals whenever necessary; for example, step up to take on a leadership role or act supportively as a team member.
- Effective team membership – Adapt your interpersonal behavior to work effectively with a new team, co-workers, or customers. Be flexible and responsive, be someone who can effectively anticipate and fulfil others, needs..
- Understand and fit in with the culture – Understand the goals and values (formal rules and principles as well as unwritten, informal goals and values that govern behavior) of the organization you wish to work in. Understand the organization’s history (traditions, customs, myths, and rituals that convey cultural knowledge), and politics (formal and informal relationships and power structures within the culture). Successfully integrate into a new culture or environment by fully understanding and willingly behaving in accordance with the accepted customs, values, rules, and structures operating within it.
Adaptability can be affected by difficulties with the following ‘abilities’
(Impairments that may impact on the particular ‘ability’ are shown in brackets)
- Flexibility (autism; Mental Health Difficulties)
- Self Motivation (Mental Health Difficulties)
- Self Organization (ADHD; autism; dyslexia, dyspraxia; Mental Health Difficulties)
Click below to read about the effects of limited abilities on Adaptability as well as adjustments to practice/inclusive strategies.