Learn how to cultivate an adaptive mindset with workers, and how to tell when workers do (or don’t) have it.
- The capabilities of workers in a constantly changing environment need to be completely different from those in less turbulent times. When we were young many of us learned a trade or earned a degree and followed what I call the old rules of work, finding work and sticking to it for years or even decades and we bundled together all of the various pieces of work, the skills that were needed, the work environment, the people environment and so on and we called that a job.
Yet for many people that world is disappearing. People change jobs, sometimes jumping into completely different fields. Jobs change and people need to constantly change with them. Fewer and fewer careers are static and as a result workers need to learn often without help from anyone else how to constantly adapt to those changes. Now, the culprit is frequently technology. In a world that's increasingly defined by the technologies we use and with a variety of work increasingly being performed by software and robots, the bundle of components we once called a job is being rapidly pulled apart.
The only way that workers can navigate a world of disruptive change is by being adaptive and by having adaptive managers who can help them to continually solve new problems as the world rapidly morphs around them. You can imagine the skillset for say guiding a boat through rapids is completely different from what's needed to steer through calm waters and since the future is always going to be unpredictable, the only way you'll do that is by helping workers to be more adaptive otherwise you're far more likely to find the boat will get caught on the rocks or even dumped into the maelstrom if the workers you manage can't keep up.
Now, why do I call people workers instead of employees? To help achieve the goals of your work group, you're likely to enlist the help of a variety od people in different roles. Full-time employees for sure but also part-time permanent, part-time temporary, full-time temporary, contractors, partners, service agencies and so on. Some people will work right in front of you and some may work around the corner or even around the world. Inevitably you'll be managing what I call a portfolio of workers and only some of them might be what you'll think of as employees.
The key characteristic to look for in adaptive workers is an adaptive mindset. Is there someone on your team who continually looks for ways to improve the work that the team does? Does a particular team member constantly come up with new ideas to solve critical problems? Is someone embracing change, cheerly accepting new challenges? That kind of attitude shows an adaptive mindset but if you have team members who are slow to adapt to change, who continually question why things need to change, who may even sabotage your attempts to solve problems in new ways well, you have a golden opportunity to help them learn a new set of techniques for becoming more adaptive.
- Characteristics of adaptive workers
- How to be an adaptive manager
- Honing self-management skills
- Developing proactive workers
- Importance of goals in adaptive work
- Developing and supporting remote workers
- Empowering adaptive workers to solve problems
- Collaboration and adaptive teams