The importance of organizations and its employees to be adaptive to progress cannot be understated. Just refer to Sears, JC Penney, and Blockbuster or extinct positions like elevator operators, ice delivery, and switchboard operators. It is undeniable that progress and change will always happen. A bright future seems to lie in flexibility and the ability to reinvent yourself or evolve, so you have options. Think of yourself as a collection of skills and not precisely what your job title is or craft.
What can we do?
All kinds of work, when evaluated honestly, is a learning experience. Work can become personal because of the investments we make and challenging because you have to be willing to explore beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. David Bowie once said: “If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area.” This thought can be related to any form of work. You need to be self-aware and explore the possibilities by continuing to learn by asking questions to people within and outside your realm. In doing so, you open yourself up to constant change if improvement is the goal. How you adapt to change is how much growth you potentially can have. This mindset of personal growth will lead to more opportunities.
Planning for the future
It’s impossible to predict precisely the skills that will be needed in the future or even a few years from now. Hence, workers and organizations need to be ready to adapt. Inevitably, much of the responsibility will be on the individual. They will need to adapt to companies change and be willing to acquire new skills and experiences throughout their lifetime, to try new tasks, and even to rethink and retrain mid‑career. Speaking from experience, I have been a photographer, graphic designer, art director, marketing director, and now a change manager. Although related to creativity and communications, many would consider some of these positions career changes. The famous criminal Willie Sutton once asked why he robbed banks. His response was simple: “Because that’s where the money is.” I changed my career because I wanted career growth, and I enjoyed learning different kinds of communications.
Adaptability mindset and support
There are many things that both an organization and individuals can do to make themselves adaptable or flexible. I will concentrate on the individual aspect but first mention how vital leadership is when cultivating this idea. Leadership should be patient and allow employees to try new things and learn from their mistakes. Creating a culture that’s open where employees feel safe to learn is very important.
Do you have an adaptable personality? Well, we all do because change is a part of life. Whether forced or chosen change, how we deal with it may differ from person to person. Most people may resist change, but we ultimately adapt. You just can’t stop progress. Employees should always be in a constant state of seeking knowledge. I’m always surfing the internet to learn about topics I need or want to know. Youtube is a goldmine for any kind of education. Asking for help from experienced colleagues or friends is also a resource. Professional doors are not always open. You sometimes need the key. Why not make that key a skeleton key for more open doors. This infographic can help you focus on the common skill sets needed for adaptability.