Written by Twinkle Tailor, CPA, Prudential Financial
Change is the only constant in today’s world. As such, adaptability is a unique trait that helps people respond to change and be comfortable in the face of uncertainty.
Adaptable people flourish amidst chaos while those who are inflexible flounder. In everyday terms, a person with high adaptability is often described as “flexible” or someone who “goes with the flow.” But is adaptability something people are born with, or can it be learned over time? The answer is that it can be learned. Although a person may not naturally be flexible, the ability to remain flexible in ideas and expectations can be nurtured. This shift in attitude over time can make someone better at adjusting to changes.
Why is it Important to be Adaptable?
Adaptable people are excellent leaders. Leaders have an innate ability to embrace change and adapt to new situations. In today’s ever-changing business environment, an organization’s ability to adapt is a critical competency. Likewise, employees must also be ready to adapt, whether to a new idea, technology or skillset. Organizations are seeking employees who embrace learning and are resilient. These employees relish working for an agile organization that allows their jobs to change to keep pace with ever-changing realities and affords them ongoing opportunities to acquire new skills. Those who never want to stop learning, appreciate the value of listening to others and understand the benefits of constantly evolving are of great value to organizations.
How to Become Adaptable
- Keep calm and confident. A person’s reaction to a change is the first impression of their adaptability. The key is to remain calm and composed. Instead of withdrawing, take time to understand the change and how it will impact you, and create an action plan for how to best adapt to it.
- Engage in positive self-talk. When faced with a change, engaging in positive talk with oneself is a valuable habit. Rather than feeling their blood pressure rising at the thought of change, adaptable people steer the change mindset through self-talk. It also helps in identifying concerns more clearly and recognizing ways to overcome them.
- Acquire new skills. Rapid changes in technology provide people with opportunities to acquire new skills. Make the most out of opportunities to learn something new, even if it includes taking a part-time class. It’s the ‘always learning’ attitude that sets professionals apart in their ability to remain adaptable in the face of change. Increased knowledge and skill will also provide a competitive advantage when opportunities for career advancement present themselves.
- Prepare alternative solutions. Adaptable people are more likely to have a plan B in case plan A fails or is rejected. Demonstrating adaptability means providing alternative solutions to initial suggestions while remaining flexible. Acceptance in the face of rejection makes a person more of a team player, someone who “goes with the flow.”
- Utilize coping mechanisms. The way a person responds to personal and professional setbacks may significantly affect their future success. Extroverts who draw strength and motivation from talking to others should share their feelings with family, friends or their professional network to become more aware of the issue and determine how to embrace it. Introverts may need to spend time alone in a comfortable, relaxing environment to help analyze the situation and find a solution.
- Think ahead. Adaptable people are in control of their work. They are always looking for opportunities to improve. Change is built into their DNA. Whether a new assignment or a personal situation, having the change mindset can help a person think ahead and better prepare for it.
Being adaptable and flexible remains a vital skillset to move ahead and stay ahead in one’s career. Professionals should flex their adaptability muscles often to reap the benefits of growth and success in the future.
Twinkle Tailor, CPA, is a financial analysis manager at Prudential Financial in Newark. She is an MBA Candidate at Rutgers University. Twinkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally printed in May/June 2019 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine