Learn and Grow: What is adaptability in the workplace?

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.” – Hellen Keller.

As the world changes around us, so does Yale University. Our workplace and careers are molded by new innovative systems that are installed to improve customer service and efficiency. New managers and employees are joining the workforce with different views and ideas, which means we need to be adaptable and ready to take on any challenge.

What is Adaptability?
Adaptability is a person’s ability to adjust to changes in their environment. When thinking about your career aspirations, changes have a direct effect on how flexible you can be. Practicing adaptability may include how you are able to respond quickly to changes, for example:

  • New managers or co-workers have differing or new ideas for how work can be done. This requires having an open mind as well as sharing your views and ideas.
  • An addition or change of responsibilities due to new systems drastically changes the way the work is done in order to meet compliance issues with policies inside or outside of Yale.
  • A shift in work priorities to meet a business need causes different expectations.
  • Strategies morph in response to unexpected changes like how we work during a global pandemic— how to maintain, improve and/or monitor workloads; how to adjust workspaces to accommodate changes in how work is getting done.
  • The increased use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and online training vs in-person training are new trends that require a changed response.
  • Work processes that increase efficiency, and improve or maintain excellent customer service mean a changed way of operating.

Effective strategies to champion change:

  • Be responsive to new information. It may not be what you expected, so ask questions and do research.
  • As part of change, be open to considering new roles and responsibilities. This may include stretch goals you set with your supervisor, which may be challenging at first, but may increase or improve your skill set.
  • Commit to personal development. Explore training on Microsoft Office (Microsoft Essentials and Microsoft Desktop), public speaking, soft skills, or working with your manager to find possible opportunities to shadow colleagues in their jobs. This shows recruiters and hiring managers that you are comfortable with change and approaching something new and different.
  • Determine what is in your control and what is not. There is no use in wasting energy on things you cannot control, but you can be proactive on things that are in your control or that you may influence.
  • Volunteer to join a team on a new project. This will give you an opportunity to work with diverse groups of people that may have different views. Be responsive and proactive to embrace any changes that may occur during this new project.
  • Suggest or implement improvements to a work process. Demonstrate initiative; show that you can adapt to the changes that will result from the new process.
  • Stay current with what is changing in your industry or area of business. Keep one step ahead.

Change is a natural part of life; therefore, adaptability is a crucial skill. When we accept that nothing stays the same forever, it gives us room to look for new opportunities to grow personally and professionally. Fighting change that you truly have no control over is like trying to keep the sun from rising or setting.  Being actively involved helps you to embrace change by understanding it, being receptive, open and adaptable. Watch the following video, “How to be an adaptable employee during change and uncertainty”.