Man on phone smilingOur soft skills series discusses the importance of various soft skills in the workplace. In this blog post, we're focusing on why adaptability, the ability to adjust to change, is valued by employers and how to assess your own adaptability. Use these tips to improve your adaptability in the workplace and find out why this soft skill needs to be a part of your skillset.

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Soft Skills: Why Adaptability needs to be in Your Wheelhouse

Dec 5, 2019

Man talking on phone and smilingRecently, we've been discussing the importance of various soft skills in the workplace. Today, we're focusing on why adaptability, the ability to adjust to change, is valued by employers and how to assess your own adaptability. Just as culture and technology change over time, so does the workplace. Employers need people who can adjust to evolving situations, changing markets and customer demands. How can you be that person?

How wide is your comfort zone?

When it comes to adapting to change, there may be a range of reactions. Some people are considered "innovators," followed by "early adopters", the "early majority", the "late majority" and then the "laggards". Where do you see yourself on this continuum?  Do you want the newest smartphone or are you ok with one that's a generation or two behind? Knowing where you're most comfortable is the first step to figuring out how adaptable you can be in any setting, including the workplace.

As John C. Maxwell, an author and leadership expert, says "Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." If you'd like to improve your own adaptability, here are some tips to consider.

  1. Listen with an open mind. When you listen, try to understand what is going on without judging. You want to gather as much information as you can to guide what your next steps need to be. Imagine that a coworker offers a suggestion to help you at work. Listening to their perspective with an open mind and incorporating their feedback shows that you are adaptable.
  2. Seek multiple perspectives. We all have a tendency to talk to the people who think or act or look like us. When we do that, we can miss important pieces of information that can change our opinion and outlook. Ask a coworker you don't usually work with for an opinion on one of your projects to see if there's an opportunity to make your project better.
  3. Plan for the unexpected. Very few interactions or projects go exactly as planned. Think about what might happen to derail a conversation or a task and how you'll react if it does. Being ready to adjust is key. Imagine you have to take a sick day. Have you trained someone to take your place for a day? That preparation shows your flexibility.
  4. Be willing to learn new skills. Maybe your employer implements a new IT system or buys a new piece of equipment that you don't know how to operate. Being adaptable enables you to have a positive attitude toward taking on the new challenge.
  5. Consider how a task will affect your health. Will you require an accommodation to help manage your health while accomplishing work tasks? Requesting accommodations to complete assignments demonstrates adaptability by showing your willingness to participate to the best of your ability.

Want to read about soft skills?

Check out our blog posts to learn more about other soft skills that can help you succeed in the workplace:

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Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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