Adaptability, An Organizational Superpower and Employee Super Skil

Open Sourced Workplace with host Steve Todd

An Interview with AQ Certified Practioner Ira S Wolfe

The world is changing at a dizzying pace, and the organizations that hire and train adaptable employees are the ones that will lead through these changes. Ira Wolfe sat down with Open Sourced Workplace host Steve Todd to discuss the importance of adaptability, how to assess it, and how to get started improving it. An innovative assessment developed by AQai can help employees and organizations quantify their adaptability quotient and develop road maps to boost AQ intelligence. Just like any other skill, adaptability can be learned. With smart tools and intentional training, anyone can improve their ability to adapt to the ever-changing world.

Show Notes

Generation Z is expected to hold an average of 17 different jobs throughout their career in 5 industries. Careers won’t be a series of jobs, but a portfolio of skills. With this shift in how careers are defined and traveled, there is a new skill that organizations require more than anything else: adaptability. Ira Wolfe joined the Open Sourced Workplace with host Steve Todd to discuss adaptability and how it can enhance your organization.

What is adaptability? [15:28]

[15:49] “Adaptability is the capacity to change your behavior and your response in the face of uncertainty.”

Adaptability is the new competitive edge (according to Harvard Business Review.) It is the way to keep your organization ahead of your competition. It is a skill that helps employees respond to an uncertain world. In a world that is experiencing dizzying changes, this skill will be an essential resource for organizations moving into the future.

But adaptability is not just responding to an environment. Rather, it is the skill to make sense of an uncertain world in order to grow and thrive in that environment and get the best results out of it. In a recent AQ Global Survey, 1 in 3 people score low on adaptability, but only 1 in 4  score high. The good news for the three-quarters of people who struggle with adaptability is that it is a skill that can be learned and improved.

Recognizing the importance of adaptability is not enough. We need a way to measure it. This is where the adaptability quotient, or AQ, comes into play. Rather than seeing adaptability as hardwired into employees, AQai views it as a skill that can be assessed and improved.

Assessing adaptability [21:25]

Viewing AQ as a skill rather than a trait allows employers to use assessments like AQai to build an individualized roadmap to improving adaptability. This assessment is built on the ACE model of adaptability, which evaluates the core pillars of ability, character, and environment. Within these pillars there are fifteen dimensions, each of which plays an important role in overall adaptability. 

By breaking up adaptability into domains, employers can now assess talent for strengths and weaknesses in adaptability. This allows for intentional training to boost specific dimensions in order to improve overall adaptability. 

For instance, one domain is resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Improvements in this dimension have the greatest impact on adaptability out of all fifteen dimensions. Targeting improvements to adaptability by using an AQ assessment helps organizations effectively target improvements. 

Unlearn Ability and how it can boost adaptability [27:33]

Unlearning is the ability to push unneeded information to the side so it doesn’t affect your performance going forwards. It is not simply dumping knowledge out of your brain, but rather being willing to let old knowledge go to embrace new models.

Unlearning is extremely important at this moment, too. For example, teachers who have always relied on in-person classes are having to unlearn all that they knew that prevented them from embracing virtual learning. Managers had to learn how to manage remotely rather than manage by walking around. They must retain the essentials of teaching and managing, but be willing to let go of their old knowledge that face to face class and supervision are essential in order to embrace a new normal.

Improving adaptability [32:50]

The first step in getting better at any skill is to figure out where you are. To improve adaptability, the journey starters with an assessment like AQai

After you have identified your strengths and your weaknesses in adaptability, the next step is to determine which dimensions need your attention first. You may choose to work on high-reward domains like resilience, or you may already know where your biggest weaknesses are and choose to start there. 

One important element of adaptability is the environment you are working in. In order to improve adaptability, you should also examine how well you are being supported by your environment. The environment you are working in can impact your adaptability by improving or harming your mental health, your ability to get support when you need, and your ability to connect with people with different perspectives. Even though elements of your environment may be out of your control, this pillar of adaptability is often overlooked.

The best thing to do to improve resilience is to improve the team support you have. This might mean working to make your work-based team better, or it might mean creating a team from scratch to get support. Being able to work as a part of a supportive team can improve your resilience, and this will be a good way to start improving your AQ.