You can help workers become more adaptive by guiding them to understand what self-management skills are and how they work. Learn how to help develop these skills—including stress management in an adaptive environment—and when to ask for help.
- Our self-management skills are those skills that often determine the difference between success, and well, less than success in adaptive situations. Self- management skills are those transferrable skills that we point at ourselves. They're often called traits but that can be a little misleading. Traits makes it sound like they're unchangeable, things that are simply facts about ourselves, like personality traits. But self-management skills can be developed and honed just like any other skill.
Now, we all know the model of a human being with virtually no self-management skills. It's called a newborn baby. We come into this world with zero ability to manage ourselves. We can't do much of anything without help from others. And at the other end of the spectrum, imagine an adult who is perfect at self-management, someone who's always on time, never loses they're temper, unless they make a conscious decision to, always does what they commit to, accomplishes every task in the time they've allocated for it, and so on. Well, that person would be pretty annoying, wouldn't they? The truth is, even though there are some people who are very mature in the skills they use to manage themselves, we're all somewhere along the spectrum of developing and improving a variety of self-management skills.
And some of us will always be better at specific skills than others. You can help workers become more adaptive by guiding them to understand what self-management skills are, and what it looks like when our most important self-management skills are working well for us. You can also help them determine when certain self-management skills aren't as well developed for a given situation. And you can encourage them to practice improving those skills. For example, time management is a pretty mechanical set of self-management skills.
There's often an underlying psychology where a worker isn't completely aware that they continually cut their timing too close. But they either feel there isn't enough of a penalty for being late, or they can wriggle their way out of the situations they've created by being late. Open and honest dialogue from a manager, and encouraging the worker to accept the responsibility to solve the time-management issue, either on their own or through a course, tackles the issue straight on. It also gives the worker the opportunity to develop a more mature response, to managing their time.
Where even our best self-management skills often breakdown is under stress. When we feel pressure, when we don't feel we have support, when we don't believe we have the time or resources to do something well, any or all of these pressures can contribute to a deterioration of our self-management skills. That's the major reason that stress-reduction techniques can be so important for workers who are attempting to use their self-management skills to adapt to constant change.
Encouraging workers to try everything from breathing exercises to yoga, to group relaxation techniques can not only help workers to deal with stress when it's happening, they can avoid feeling stressed by proactively using those kinds of techniques. And these in themselves are self-management skills. But perhaps the most important self-management skill in a constantly changing environment is the ability to ask for help. Workers who undergo rapid change need to know that they'll rarely be in situations where they're skills and knowledges are perfect for the situation at hand.
Feeling that you're out of your depth is a perfectly appropriate response, but it's critical to have the maturity to know when you need some assistance. And of course, as a manager of adaptive workers it's critical that you're the one to offer that assistance to help ensure that adaptive workers can be successful under those stressful conditions.
- 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