Change is the new normal. How adaptable are you?

working from home with a desktop computer and phone

Technology transformations are helping us connect and work more flexibly than ever. But a lot has changed in the last few years - not just for candidates, employees and companies hiring, but for all of us in the way we work and live. So how adaptable are you? 

New ways of working

COVID-19 has resulted in some upside for technology teams, accelerating the rate of change and adoption of new technology across most industries in response to lockdowns and restrictions. Many organisations green-lighted digital and technology projects and delivered them in record time, improving the ability to work flexibly and remotely, communicate and connect across teams, and manage knowledge and workflow digitally.

This fast spreading digital work landscape that allows hybrid and remote working is here to stay. For companies like Six Degrees Executive, this is now a “must-have” for our business and our people, to manage and respond to changes in the market.

Digital workplaces provide the advantage of being able to measure and share performance data and results, which can drive collaboration, insight, and innovation. How does your team collaborate? How do they run their meetings? What information is being consumed and shared? How can we improve performance? Where should we focus our effort? Data can be interpreted to create evidence-based insight that fuels efficiencies, performance improvements, and continuous change.

Adapting to change

With change velocity only increasing, the ability to manage change becomes an important skill to have. But it may involve a trip outside your comfort zone: facing new challenges, responding to unanticipated events, problem-solving issues, and developing novel solutions.

By now you are probably wondering how adaptable you are and whether it’s something you can improve (yes, you can).

Just as IQ measures intelligence and EQ assesses emotional intelligence, AQ (Adaptability Quotient) is a way of describing and predicting how well you cope with and successfully manage change. Employers are even assessing adaptability during job interviews to employ people that can be adaptable and thrive in environments of enduring change.

How can you improve your AQ?

While there is no hard and fast recipe for AQ, there are certain skills you can work on to improve your adaptability. Here are some pointers to help you improve your AQ.

1. What’s the problem?

Problem solving is a key skill for adaptability. Whilst it may sound simple, understanding the problem that you are trying to solve is crucial to being able to solve it! How often have you been confronted with a problem and felt that you’re going around and around in circles trying to solve it or not being understood? With increasing complexity and change velocity, the best way to stay on track to solve a problem is by (re-)defining the problem itself.

You will be blown away with the different assumptions being made and variations in perspective held on the same topic. Having complete clarity on what it is you’re trying to achieve and knowing what questions you need to answer will help your ability to problem-solve and navigate change.

Being curious, asking uncomfortable questions, and challenging presumptions and preconceived notions will help you get to the heart of the problem. A good way to approach a problem is by adopting a beginner’s mindset of openness and eagerness where there are many possibilities and solutions.

2. What if? Yes, and?

To be able to approach challenges, find solutions, and adapt to the inevitability of change, you will need to be agile enough to learn fast and absorb new information. AQ is not only about absorbing new information but being able to unlearn information to work out what is still relevant and what is obsolete knowledge. When conjuring up potential solutions, AQ manifests itself when you can picture different possible versions of the future to be able to solve a problem.

One way you can test this is by answering “what if” questions. Being able to answer what if questions (instead of traditional, “tell me about a time when” questions) forces you to simulate possible versions of the future. Practice answering what-ifs to strengthen your vision and develop different scenarios. The way you can manipulate information given a constraint to achieve a goal can demonstrate your adaptability.

Another skill used in brainstorming solutions is the "yes, and..." method where you build on various ideas and actively incorporate the “yes, and” phrase throughout the process. This process should be rewarded to improve adaptability.

Recruiters and hiring managers will ask what-if questions to help draw out your willingness to adapt and change and understand how well you will adapt to potential challenges.

3. What’s first?

Implementing change can be overwhelming, so after clarifying the problem and understanding potential solutions, it’s time to put things in motion. Breaking down solutions into smaller, bite-sized chunks of information, steps or actions will help you prioritise where to start.

Focusing on one step at a time, where you learn or unlearn information, and continue to make progress helps build momentum and keeps you moving forward. And don’t be afraid to stumble or fall over - being able to fail fast, learn and continue on will keep you moving up the AQ ladder.

Part of building AQ involves enjoying the exploration stage, not continuing to do the same things over and over, and actively seeking out new experiences or ‘what might kill you next’. This will likely put you out of your comfort zone of what you know but will also improve your courage to make change. By practicing putting yourself out of your comfort zone, you will start to normalise the fear of failure involved and accept that failure is part of the process and not something to fear.

Having a positive outlook to learning where you believe you can learn and develop intelligence and talent over time will improve your capacity to become more adaptable. It’s important to continue to challenge yourself and put yourself in uncomfortable situations that provide opportunity for growth to flex your AQ muscle and improve your capacity to become more adaptable and be prepared for change.

If you’re looking for more career advice on how to showcase your AQ in an interview, contact our team of recruitment consultants.

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