How to demonstrate adaptability and flexibility at work
Updated 9 March 2023
Adaptability and flexibility are fundamental workplace skills that benefit any employee, regardless of their level or field. Now more than ever, organisations value individuals who can easily adapt to change, as adaptability and flexibility can vastly improve career performance and progress. Individuals who can show their adaptability gain a competitive edge in the job market because they can develop a wide range of additional skills, such as communication and teamwork. In this article, we review what it means to be flexible and adaptable at work, including the importance of the two and a few examples.
What are adaptability and flexibility?
Adaptability and flexibility are both important social skills to have in the workplace. While they are similar concepts, they are two different things. When someone is adaptable, they have a willingness to change to match different conditions. In other words, such people are always ready to adjust to various roles, willing to learn new technical skills and eager to attempt to overcome challenges they've never tried. In fast-paced work environments, adaptability is an important skill.
When someone is flexible, they can easily adapt to various situations and respond well to new environments. Employees who are flexible can do well in all kinds of roles and typically possess resilience, which can help them withstand sudden changes or speedily recover from tough conditions even more. People who are resilient often enjoy change and thrive in turbulent conditions at work. Resilience is an important skill to have in a workplace that faces change on a regular basis.
Related: Important workplace social skills
Why are adaptability and flexibility important?
No matter what organisation or industry, one thing that is always certain is change. Market conditions are always changing, and the sign of a good business is its ability to respond to these changes. From technological advancements to unexpected events, change is a constant factor. Therefore, businesses are always looking for resourceful and enterprising individuals who can easily adapt to these changes in the best possible way.
It is necessary to show adaptability and flexibility in some way. When things don't go according to plan or when you're starting a new career path, showing these skills can help to boost success. For example, Generation Z often displays their adaptability, thanks to their tech-savvy background. As workplaces are constantly digitising their processes, changing their work environments and adjusting to industry changes, having an adaptable workforce is incredibly important.
Related: All about Generation Z
Key adaptability skills
There are various qualities that may be essential for being adaptable. If you want to improve your adaptability, here are a few key skills to master:
Active listening and clear communication skills are necessary for being adaptable at work. When changes arise in the workplace, individuals can ask for clarification and find the resources they need. Communicating and listening well shows that you're attentive to change and ready to embrace it.
Of course, problem-solving is necessary for finding solutions to problems and knowing how to approach different scenarios. A major part of adaptability and flexibility is being able to resolve difficult situations.
A significant part of being adaptable involves working with different people in a range of environments. Having strong interpersonal skills allows you to interact with diverse people in the most effective way, while avoiding miscommunications or conflicts.
In addition to good interpersonal skills, it's important for adaptable individuals to be able to work well in teams. Work conditions often involve new teamwork dynamics with people that have different skills and backgrounds. A vital adaptability skill is being able to work in a diverse team and respond positively to different teamwork environments.
Creativity and strategic thinking
Adaptability and flexibility are all about responding to the unknown. Being able to think strategically and respond creatively to different scenarios and challenges is an important skill. Individuals who can come up with creative and well-planned solutions to new situations have strong levels of adaptability.
Organisation and preparation
Being organised makes it a lot easier to be adaptable and flexible. Individuals who are always in command of their responsibilities and work in a highly organised environment are in a much stronger position to adapt to change. Preparing yourself for change is one of the most important steps towards responding to it swiftly.
Best ways to demonstrate adaptability and flexibility at work
Knowing how to be flexible and adaptable at work can help you perform better in any kind of role. Here are a few excellent ways to demonstrate these skills:
Change your mindset
The best way to start improving your flexibility and adaptability is to have the right mindset. Try to have the mentality of embracing change and think of it as a positive thing. Instead of worrying about situations that could happen, focus on what you have under your control. This perspective can put you in a much better position to deal with change when it happens.
Take on new responsibilities
If you want to demonstrate adaptability and flexibility at work, one of the best strategies is to take on new responsibilities. Think about tasks that are different from your usual role, and volunteer to take them on. This shows that you're willing to adapt to new roles and responsibilities. You can learn new skills and improve your level of flexibility. Make sure that you understand and can handle whatever new responsibilities you choose to take on.
Be aware of changes
Being aware of changes in your work environment helps demonstrate better adaptability. By staying ahead of company-wide changes and developments, you can be in a better position to quickly respond to adjustments in your role. This can include being aware of budget changes, policy adjustments or any new operational processes.
Setting personal goals is a great way to continue developing your flexibility and adaptability. Create objectives that push you and keep you working towards completing new and challenging tasks. By constantly striving towards goals and improving your personal development, you can learn valuable adaptability skills. This can also involve upskilling yourself through courses, joining new social circles and putting yourself into new environments.
Ask for feedback
Working on new skills is important for adaptability, but focussing on improving your weaknesses is even more crucial. A great way to do this is to ask managers for feedback to identify areas that you can improve. This helps you develop and improve on your weaknesses, which makes you more flexible. It also shows management your willingness to grow and advance your skills.
Work with new people
Finding ways to work with people you've never worked with before is an excellent way to improve your adaptability. If there are any tasks that require external help, offer to take them on so that you can immerse yourself in teamwork. You can also try to socialise with other teams and departments at work. This can help you find new opportunities for teamwork, collaboration and displays of your adaptability.
Related: How to be flexible at work
Common examples of being adaptable and flexible at work
Being adaptable and flexible in the workplace is invaluable. No matter what your role or industry is, these are beneficial skills for everyone. Following the strategies below can better prepare you to respond to and manage change successfully. Here are a few examples with tips to improve adaptability and flexibility in the workplace:
If opportunities come up for tasks that are new to you, accept them to show your creative abilities.
If there are changes to processes and policies at work, get clarification on them and communicate with managers about them to help you perform better.
Set a goal to contribute more to team meetings if you struggle with sharing ideas with colleagues. This is one example of how you can use goals to develop adaptability skills.
Organise all your work in case there are any transitions in your job. If these changes come up, you're more likely to be prepared for them.
If you want to advance within your role, learn new skills and set personal goals. Once you manage to upskill yourself, offer to take on new responsibilities that these skills relate to.
Acknowledge changes in the workplace and watch for any that might affect you. As soon as you discover a new shift, start to think about how you can adapt your role to match this.
Explore more articles
- What is a healthcare consultant? (And how to become one)
- How To Become A Jeweller: a Step-by-Step Guide
- Why finance is a good career path (plus potential jobs)
- What is a staff nurse in the UK? (With duties and skills)
- How to become an IT technician (with salary information)
- How To Become A Farm Worker (Plus Duties and Salary)
- How To Write a Job Application Email Subject Line
- How To Become A Security Architect in 5 Steps (Plus Salary)
- 17 easy jobs for 60-year-olds (with salaries and duties)
- How to become a marketing consultant (Definition and skills)
- 12 physical jobs (With salaries, duties and requirements)
- 8 of the best high paying art jobs (With duties and salary)