Building a Culture of Adaptability

Welcome to my third post of the Building Resilient Teams series. To me, you need high trust and high engagement to have a resilient team trust and engagement are what build capacity for resilience. Adaptability, however, is how resilience is actually enabled. Adaptability is the ability to recognize when things aren’t working, change to new directions, come up with new ideas, and know when to double down and when to move on.

A team with a culture of adaptability knows how to do good work but also knows when it’s time to change the methods. A team with a culture of adaptability can predict and better prepare for challenges, take things in stride, and come up with innovative solutions that become future best practices.

Big Picture Focus

A team that lacks adaptability sticks to the way things have always been done, often because they are bogged down in details. When we are bogged down in details, we can’t see that a process is now outdated or redundant and we can’t see that a strategy will cause more problems than it will solve.

Maintaining a big picture focus is about two main things: staying focused on the mission or desired outcome and staying aligned with our values.

If we are focused on the mission or desired outcome, we may see that as long as we still get the job done, some of the steps along the way were redundant. If we are focused on the mission or desired outcome, we can come up with a new way to get there when an obstacle prevents us with following the plan we initially created.

If we stay aligned to our values we can be proud of each step we take along the way. If we stay aligned to our values, some decisions are made clearer.

Build a Learning Mindset

A learning mindset is curious. A learning mindset enjoys research and trial and error. A learning mindset makes mistakes, has failures and setbacks. When a learning mindset has mistakes, failures and setbacks, it mines those experiences for what they can learn so they can make better decisions next time.

It’s not about celebrating failures or trying to make us more comfortable with the feeling of failures. A learning mindset is about celebrating the learning that happened and acknowledging that learning is sometimes uncomfortable. We try. We make mistakes. We learn. We try better.

Check In With Yourself and Others

Checking in with yourself and with the members of your team is about seeing how you are doing in stressful situations or times where you or your team needs greater adaptability and seeing what you or your team needs to make that happen.

A burnt out, drained or disengaged team can’t see new opportunities or strategies. Over-reliance on certain team members adaptability can burn them out. This is about using your resources well.

When we get in a rhythm, we sometimes forget to look up and look around. What tools does you or your team need? What skills do they need to learn? What obstacles are they having that are avoidable? Are there problems that some team members solved but didn’t share with other team members?

Make this a regular thing. Build the habit so you and your team are comfortable speaking up if they have unmet needs that hinder their performance and adaptability.

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