Author: Jason Walker, Board Director and MD, Hays New Zealand
If your next career goal is to become a people manager, then there’s one crucial skill you need to develop: adaptability.
The best manager will shift and flex in response to the changing environment around them and, crucially, the different motivations of the individuals they lead. In short, they are a chameleon who can adapt to suit the situation at hand.
For instance, they’ll look at the rapid changes occurring in today’s world of work with an open mind, consider and experiment with new ways of performing tasks and motivate their team to adapt and grow accordingly to remain successful.
They’ll juggle multiple responsibilities effectively and won’t drop the ball when priorities change suddenly.
They’ll adapt their leadership style for each team member according to what works best for them. For example, one team member may value regular feedback and direction but another may consider this to be micromanagement.
The best people managers also adapt development plans to suit the needs and goals of the individuals in their team. For example, an employee who wants to grow their skills in a particular area could be offered a relevant stretch opportunity while a poor performer may need one-on-one coaching.
How to demonstrate adaptability
A recent survey of ours shows that half of skilled professional workers have left a job wholly or partly to get away from their manager.
Perhaps this is why employers are now paying far more attention to who they promote into people management roles. They are assessing top performers to determine if they have the necessary soft skills to lead.
So how can you demonstrate the adaptability required to manage? Here are our tips:
Adjust to change
Whether organisational, technological or skills-based, change is inevitable. Next time something new is proposed or put forward, embrace it, shift the way you work accordingly, and then help others in your team to do the same. As my colleague Nick Deligiannis rightly says in this blog, you must show you can move out of your comfort zone and see change as an opportunity for growth and innovation.
Be emotionally intelligent
Understand your emotional response to change, problems and stress. If necessary, work on improving your emotional intelligence (EQ) so you remain calm and poised in these situations. If you see someone else struggling, be helpful and empathetic. As my colleague Michael Jones outlined in a previous blog, don’t forget to tap into positive emotions. For instance, could you give a colleague an inspiring pep-talk to help them see the positives that can result from adapting to change?
Identify and bridge skill gaps
Be aware and responsive to changes occurring in your industry or sector. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups, attend industry events and networking functions, tune into webinars and podcasts and keep an eye on what the competition. This will help you stay on top of current trends and then adapt by plugging any resulting skill or knowledge gaps.
Respect the ideas of others
More workplaces are embracing diversity of thought and collaboration to encourage employees to share ideas. As Nick Deligiannis writes in this blog, show you can adapt by embracing the ideas of others and, in cases where you may not agree with a colleague’s opinion, keep the resulting debate on-task and professional, never personal. Never put a fellow employee down for speaking her or his mind.
Don’t give up
If your first solution to a problem is turned down by your manager, come up with an alternative. Don’t dwell on the rejection of your idea or become resentful – there could be many reasons you haven’t considered as to why it was not viable. Instead, accept the decision and go back to the drawing board to create an even better course of action.
Thank you for reading! For more useful advice and insights about the world of work, visit our dedicated blog page here or click on one of the links below.
- Networking for career success
- 4 ways to get more done and feel less overwhelmed
- Hays and Manchester City's strategic partnership
- Market intelligence: All the latest market reports from Hays