Passport Series: Adaptability

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Last week we introduced OFE’s Passport. To recap, our research at OFE showed there are key soft skills – social and emotional skills – that determine whether a person will be successful in the workplace. The purpose of OFE’s Passport is to intentionally develop these skills with our participants. After the last post, you’ve hopefully had a chance to think about better ways to show your motivation.

This week we’re looking at adaptability, defined as a person’s ability to react constructively to both anticipated and unanticipated changes. Change happens all the time. If we’re lucky we know about it in advance, but often it takes us by surprise. How we react in those moments is critical to our success in the workplace. Scoring high in adaptability means you’re able to interact positively (with others) in the new situation.

So, how can you show you’re adaptable?

  1. Our first suggestion is to stay calm and confident. If you have the right attitude you’ve already won half the battle. Staying composed and sure of your abilities will allow you to make confident decisions in a hurry. Your attitude will also positively impact others around you, which ensures a smoother transition than if everyone had panicked and complained.

    This applies to your job search too. With the job market being so unpredictable, it’s easy to feel frustrated and discouraged when things don’t go according to plan. Staying calm and confident will help with your mental health and keep your mind clear to come up with alternative solutions.
  1. Ask constructive questions. When a manager or supervisor tells you about a change, chances are the decision’s mostly been made. Instead of asking “why” questions, focus on “what” and “when”, and then ask yourself “how”. Thoughtful questions will allow you to get a better understanding of the situation and give you guidelines for what you can control.

    Thoughtful questions for your job search can include:

    – Is my chosen field in demand where I’m living?
    – If not, are there similar jobs or “stepping stone” jobs I can apply to as a way to gain experience and grow my skills?
    – Is further education an option?
  1. The next point is to think creatively. When you let yourself believe there’s only one way to get something done, you won’t get very far. This is why we encourage continuous learning. Exposing yourself to new ideas will open your mind and allow you to connect previously unrelated ideas to come up with new solutions. You may surprise yourself with what you accomplish by growing this skill. Even if your ideas don’t always land, you can take that experience and use it to improve the next one. That’s all part of the learning process!
  1. Lean in to change and be flexible. At this very moment, someone, somewhere, maybe even your co-worker beside you, is proposing some kind of change. As much as we want things to stay the same, they won’t. Getting comfortable with the idea that everything changes is the best way to become adaptable. You found out the company you want to work for is only doing video interviews? Time to upgrade your knowledge of interviewing. The industry you want to work in starts work at 7 AM? Time to find a morning routine. The sooner you become flexible, the less time you’ll be playing catch up.

Author: Nelsa Uson, Employer Liaison

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