Ever since COVID-19, office professionals have had to adapt to how and where they perform their work and how they continue to support their managers, supervisors and co-workers. Offices all around us have implemented changes in how they do business and how they support their customers and these changes require employees to be more adaptable and flexible than ever. While adaptability has always been an important soft skill to possess, employers and employees alike are discovering that adaptability is now the most important skill to possess.
WHAT IS ADAPTABILITY?
Adaptability for the administrative professional means that you are open and willing to take on new responsibility at the office, learn new things as required and make the necessary adjustments to these changes in the workplace. While the ability to adapt is a very difficult quality for many people to meet, the dynamics of the work place today is constantly changing, making it very important to understand what it means to be adaptable and flexible.
What does Adaptability Mean in the Workplace?
Adaptability is a sought-after soft skill in the 21st Century workplace as it shows that the administrative professional can adapt to new technology trends and ever-changing company processes and customer needs. Adaptability rates right up there along with other highly desirable hard and soft skills and some employers state that people who are highly adaptable are actually considered more valuable employees than those who are highly skilled but less adaptable.
WHY BE ADAPTABLE?
The ability to compromise and adapt to change will be key to your success as an administrative professional in the 21st Century. There are many reasons why you may need to be open to change as an administrative professional in a busy office environment. Holding on to old habits and ways of doing things can cause reduced productivity and revenue for your company, especially in these times of COVID-19. Some changes that may come your way are:
- New Technology – New technology, such as having to learn a new tool such as Zoom or MS Teams for remote meetings, remote access to your company network, shared drives, the introduction of a new electronic filing system like your company moving to cloud based storage system .
- New Software – Upgrades to a new version of Microsoft Office software or a possible move to an open source version such as Libre Office, Open Office or even Google docs.
- Organizational Changes – Being able to demonstrate openness to new organizational changes, structures, office procedures and technology is key. You may need to be willing to take on new roles or learn new skills as your employers needs change.
- New Processes and Procedures – The changes you encounter in technology, business and people will require changes in your daily work processes and office procedures. Many office professionals have found themselves working remotely for the very first time and having to quickly adapt to new ways of doing things, often times without a lot of supervision.
BENEFITS OF BEING ADAPTABLE
There are so many benefits to becoming adaptable and flexible and one of them is that you will become a better Administrative Professional. Being adaptable and willing to compromise will be your key to success as an Administrative Professional. Get to know your co-workers, team, be flexible, and stay on top of the details. Here are some of the benefits you will derive by being adaptable:
- Highly valued – If you are adaptable and willing to flex and change, you will be more highly valued at work.
- Better Work/Life Balance – Both work and family are important in our lives and both often compete for our time. If you are flexible and willing to adapt to change, you will find you are better able to manage your work and family life. Since COVID-19, many adaptable employees are now experiencing a much more balanced work life at home, allowing them more time to focus on other priorities.
- You’ll become a more valued employee – If you are flexible and willing to adapt to changing company needs such as taking on a new role and being willing to help others, you will become an indispensable employee or team member that others will want to work with and collaborate with. Everybody likes a person who can change their mind and become flexible when needed. People will want you on their staff because they know you are willing to adapt, flex and change.
- Become more productive – you will be able to put in more positive work and get results by being productive. Your chances of retaining your employment and getting a promotion is higher if you are a flexible employee because a lot of individuals lack these skills.
- More Confidence – If you are willing to accept that situations will change and will not always stay the same, your confidence will improve, and you will be able to complete the job better, despite the fact that you’ve had to adapt.
- Optimistic – When you are optimistic, you will be open to looking at alternative solutions when yours or others ideas don’t work out the way you planned. Be open to switching to a different strategy if your initial idea is unsuccessful and be willing to collaborate with other team members or employees when coming up with a different plan.
- You’ll learn to embrace change better in all forms of your life. For the administrative professional, the ability to adjust to change is a very necessary skill. While change can be scary for some, learning how to embrace change is one thing that will set you apart from others Letting go of old ideas and ways of doing things and learning how to adapt and be flexible will benefit you in you in all aspects of your life.
ADAPTABILITY IN THE WORKPLACE EXAMPLES
As an administrative professional, here are some examples of how you can demonstrate flexibility and adaptability in the workplace:
- Be willing to take on a new role or tasks or do a co-workers tasks when needed or required. With many managers and executives still working from home, booking flights, travel and managing complex calendars may disappear for a while, opening up your time for other responsibilities.
- Be open to change and others perspectives. Be mindful that there is more than one way to look at something so try to be open to alternative solutions by being able to switch to a different strategy or solution when an initially selected one is unsuccessful. It’s important to realize that not everyone sees things the way you do so understanding things from more than just your own perspective can have a real positive effect on your adaptability. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your own way of thinking or plans, it just allows you to see others point of view as well as your own.
- Improve your coping skills – Adaptability and Flexibility has a lot to do with coping so if you are able to teach yourself not to get overly emotional, then you are actually improving your coping skills. Your levels of stress and anxiety can really limit your ability to be adaptable. Stay calm and apply stress management techniques like doing exercise, watching a movie, reading a book or going for a walk to manage situations involving stress or change.
- Remove Expectations – If you have fixed expectations, it can limit your ability to be adaptable and will get in the way of your being able to adapt to new situations. Be willing to accept the unexpected. whether that may be suddenly finding yourself working remotely, the loss of a co-worker where you have to take on more work or a sudden reorganization of your department.
- Demonstrate confidence – Believe in your own ability, skills and experience to get the job done when being asked to take on new or more responsibility, even when you’ve had to adapt or flex.
- Demonstrate flexibility in these times of change and maintain a positive attitude regardless of changes in working conditions. Resist the temptation to make up excuses by saying statements like ” I can’t do it, that’s how it’s always been done, I’ve already decided on it or it’s too difficult” as this can limit your chance of adapting to new situations
- Ask questions – Ask relevant questions to your supervisor/manager to ensure that you understand what is required of you and also to better understand someone else’s perspective.
- Move out of your Comfort Zone – For example, if you have an idea of how something could be done better while working remotely but you choose not to bring this to your supervisor’s attention, this is a sign that you are staying in your comfort zone. On the other hand, if you bring this to the attention of your supervisor and other co-workers, you are stepping out of your comfort zone. Moving out of your comfort zone requires change but sometimes it’s beneficial to embrace change and move beyond your comfort zone to allow yourself to grow and develop. Be willing to make mistakes and accept the fact that other people make mistakes too.
- Take Responsibility but don’t own everything. Just because you’re adaptable doesn’t mean you will be responsible for everything that comes along. Whether at home, at work or on a team, allow others to contribute and make sure everyone takes their fair share of the responsibility, while at the same time sharing in the rewards when due.
We all have plans and routines that we follow and get used to but someone who is adaptable is able to pull themselves away from their routine chores and respond willingly to the changing circumstances facing them. They take things in their stride, tend to go with the flow and are very flexible People who are not so adaptable tend to be more comfortable with routine and structure and will often experience frustration when circumstances change. Like any skill, being adaptable and flexible can be learned but it does take practice. Stay focused on getting the job done by being accommodating to others during these difficult times and try to remain positive.
To improve your office skills and learn more about being adaptable and other valuable soft skills, take the Soft Skills Training for Administrative Professionals course on officeskills.org.