The rapid pace of change isn't going to slow down any time soon. Learn about the skills your workers are going to need most to thrive in disruptive times.
- Your main goal as a manager in a time of constant change is to help create adaptive workers. Only by helping to prepare your team for a world where work is increasingly unbundled can you ensure they'll be able to adapt on an ongoing basis. Sure, there are going to continue to be jobs that are static and that won't require constant adaptation. But there's going to be fewer and fewer of those in the future. Look at what's already happened to positions like travel agents, cab drivers, media buyers.
The same changes will happen to everyone from truck drivers to graphic designers. If we don't start preparing workers now for constant change, we won't be able to solve the problems of today, much less the challenges of tomorrow. So adaptive workers need four critical Self-Management Skills. They need to be proactive, they need to be opportunistic, they need to be networked, and they need to be self-aware. So first, workers need to be proactive and have what I call agency, the belief that they're empowered to take action.
That means a willingness to take risks and to accept that not all risks work out. As an adaptive manager, you can help your team members to become more proactive by continually giving them opportunities to take risks and to help them overcome the inevitable missteps. Proactive workers also try to plan ahead whenever possible and to anticipate new challenges and opportunities. They try to avoid being blindsided by change and work to avoid problems that can come from inaction. Second, adaptive workers need to be opportunistic.
Now that may sound contradictory. How can they be both proactive and what seems to be reactive? Not all change can be anticipated. There's a quote that's been attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger. "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." In a rapidly changing world, opportunity may come out of the blue. If you're not willing to take advantage of new opportunities or even to recognize them when they appear, you'll miss a range of chances to do something new. Third, to be truly adaptive, you have to be networked.
In a slower moving world, we may not have needed to maintain connections with a broad range of people. But the studies of a Johns Hopkin researcher, Mark Granovetter, reinforces what's known as the strength of weak ties. Valuable connections come through people who are at what we might think of as the edge of our networks, not the core. It's no longer sufficient just to keep your head down on the work you do. Instead, it's critical to maintain a broad set of connections who can potentially be the source of new opportunities and whom you can help as well.
Finally, truly adaptive workers need to be self-aware. Only by knowing what makes each of us unique, including the skills and knowledges we most love to use, can we continually seek and perform the work we're best at. If you can't list your own skills and knowledges in the order of how much you love using them, you probably won't know what you're capable of. But being adaptive means being able to constantly update your knowledge about yourself and to proactively seek the work you can do the best.
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- Dealing with disruptive change and the new rules of work
- Establishing a new contract with workers
- Rethinking job qualifications
- Hiring for diversity and inclusion
- Identifying key skills for adaptive workers
- Helping your team become lifelong learners
- Leveraging automation for your team
- Becoming an adaptive manager
- Making human resources a partner
- Recognizing when your adaptive strategy is working