For both individuals and businesses facing the uncertain situations we often find ourselves in, the ability to ADAPT to change is incredibly important. Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Now more than ever before, leaders globally are facing change and complexity. And the pandemic has presented us all with new challenges, new circumstances, and new uncertainties. Moreover, jobs have been morphing, expanding, shrinking, and disappearing. Additionally, co-workers, teammates, and technology are all changing rapidly.
We seem to be turning a corner with vaccines. Businesses are gradually shifting back to in-person work. There will be a new set of norms to adapt to and challenges to overcome.
Nonetheless, virus or not, change is a certainty of life. And adaptability is a requirement. That is because change is always going to be constant and inevitable. With that, leaders must be flexible and adaptable to succeed and grow.
How Well Do You Adapt to Change?
Consider your own personal approach to change. How do you respond when adapting to change? Do you:
- Accept the change as positive?
- See the change as an opportunity?
- Adapt plans as necessary?
- Quickly master new technology, vocabulary, operating rules?
- Lead the change by example?
- Consider other people’s concerns?
- Sort out your strengths and weaknesses accurately?
- Admit personal mistakes, learn from them, and move on?
- Remain optimistic?
If few or none of these responses describe you, you’re not alone. Many of us get stuck, have a hard time letting go, or simply don’t know how to proceed in unchartered waters.
Consider using the A.D.A.P.T. Model for your team to navigate change in their professional and personal lives.
A | Acceptance
When change happens to people it is possible that our energy gets focused on non-productive feelings and behaviours. Especially, change that feels outside of our control.
That said, the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross change curve suggests people go through different stages when faced with change. These 5 stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. When Kubler-Ross wrote about these stages it was in the context of grief.
Additionally, she explained that these are normal reactions we have to tragic news. In fact, she called them coping mechanisms that we need to move through to manage change. We don’t move through the stages one at a time. Nor is it in a neat and linear manner. Fundamentally, we can occupy different stages at different times. Moreover, we can even move back to stages we have been in before.
The Kubler-Ross change curve is a useful model to help us understand our own response to change. And that our energy can be more proactively focused once we have acknowledged and accepted the reality of the situation. It is primarily when we move into acceptance that we can start to look forward. And then we are able to let go of the unhelpful feelings or behaviours of the past.
D | Determine
Our colleagues and customers and those around us will still have needs. It’s just that those needs will most likely have changed. Perhaps they won’t be in a position to talk right now. But that doesn’t mean they won’t need our insight, contacts and experience. This is the time to determine what people now want and need. And also, a time to be determined to help where possible.
- how the landscape you are operating in has changed
- what it is that colleagues, customers and those around you now need
- how your unique strengths and capabilities can deliver those new needs
Even those industries experiencing growth in the current climate are still also experiencing change. In our How to ADAPT to Change Workshops, we are constantly encouraging people to explore how they can create and communicate differential value. That is, for their customers and those around them. Now is the time for people to demonstrate their value. That is, ‘how do I effectively communictate?’ and ‘how do I help?’.
A – Anticipate
The pandemic has taught us that change can come faster and hit harder than we ever imagined. If change-readiness wasn’t already a subject for discussion in your business, it certainly will be going forward.
Remember the classic book ‘Who Moved my Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson? A parable that centres around four characters living inside a maze.
That is, two mice, Sniff and Scurry. But also, two small humans, Hem and Haw. Using different methods, both pairs locate a daily pile of cheese inside the maze. The cheese represents happiness in its every form. The two mice locate the cheese by getting straight on with the task and applying trial and error. Meanwhile, the two humans apply much greater thought and analytics to the situation but still locate the cheese. Over time the mice and the humans grow to realise that the cheese can always be found at Cheese Station C.
The mice continue their practice of getting up early sniffing around and running towards the cheese. Whereas the humans begin to take the cheese for granted and get lazier in their approach. When the cheese disappears one day, the mice quickly adapt and find their way to a new source of cheese. Meanwhile the humans … we won’t tell you how it ends for the humans. But, suffice to say, the book provides an interesting lesson in ADAPTability. A must-read for those transitioning through change management.
So, if like the mice you are busy making changes to adapt to this new situation, just be careful to avoid metaphorically painting yourselves into a corner. This experience has taught us that we must ideally anticipate change. And whilst it is unrealistic to perfectly anticipate unexpected change, at least anticipate the possibility of change. That is, so we can adapt again and again.
P | Proactivity
Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. One of the most important things you choose is your mindset. Your language is a good indicator of how you see yourself.
A proactive person uses proactive language such as “I can, I will, I prefer.” A reactive person uses reactive language for instance “I can’t, I have to, if only.” Proactive people recognise that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behaviour. They know they choose their behaviour. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do, they believe they have no choice.
It will come as no surprise how important proactivity and positivity is to achieving effective outcomes. You only have to look at the research from studies on the placebo effect to see this.
Focusing on what you can do, rather than what you can’t and looking for new and innovative ways of doing things is key. Now is most definitely a time for choosing a helpful response. And also for encouraging yourself and others to think creatively. As well as knowing how to apply problem-solving skills. Now is the time to proactively REFRAME your language, behaviour and mindset.
T | Test and Learn
As with the mice in ‘Who Moved my Cheese?’, the process of testing, learning from that and then re-testing is critical to success. We need to learn to fail fast in times of change.
That is, if something’s not working, move on and try something different. If we spend our time over-analysing, drawing up lengthy detailed plans, we won’t be as successful, simple as that.
As human beings, we naturally move towards familiar states and ways of doing things. Doing something differently requires more effort and greater risk. However, in times such as these, the risk of standing still and doing things the way we’ve always done them is far greater. ADAPT, GROW and KEEP MOVING FORWARD to succeed!
All your training is tailored to your team and can be delivered virtually or F2F Onsite.
Gather your team and we will take care of the rest – learning and laughs included.
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