“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” -Kakuzo Okakaura
Our world is unpredictable, so it’s important to be adaptable. This is especially true in the workplace, where the bigger the business, the harder it is to restructure or change the workflow. That’s why many leaders struggle when it comes to helping their teams learn to become more flexible.
Our software development firm has gone through a number of organizational changes and worked with multiple client teams of different sizes throughout the years. We’ve collected some knowledge on becoming more adaptable. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learned.
Set concrete goals
It may seem counterintuitive, but to become more flexible, you should set clearly defined business objectives. When you have a stable goal, it’s easier to adjust and modify the work process around it based on your current situation.
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A solid common mission can help your team become more flexible. Even in times of uncertainty, at least they will know what direction to move in.
For example, one of our team’s main goals is to grow our customer base. During the quarantine, our need to grow customers outweighed our need to hire, so recruiters at our company searched not just for candidates but for potential clients, too. Thus, staff members adapted to the new reality by using their existing skills for a different task.
Let your team members do their job
After you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to distribute the tasks and let everyone do their job. It’s been proven many times that when an employee is given more independence, they feel more responsible for their progress.
In many cases, you’ll need team leaders to oversee the work of others. But there is a big difference between leadership and micromanagement. Independence and shared responsibility are key, especially when your goal is to build flexible teams. To get there, you may need to change your view on workplace hierarchy.
Rather than command and control, what teams really need from leaders and executives is effective communication, especially during times of change.
Rather than command and control, what teams really need from leaders and executives is effective communication, especially during times of change. Team members can’t work productively without feedback and validation from a trusted figure.
If a particular employee is resisting change at all costs, try letting the rest of the team talk it out with that individual. Directions from even the most approachable boss can feel like pressure during hard times. For that reason, leaders should sometimes step back so staff members can listen to one another and work on the process of accepting change.
Pay attention to the team's feedback
Listening to your staff members and asking their opinion on various situations or issues is truly invaluable. Many useful insights that help leaders make the right decisions come from the employees who are on the front lines, working with customers and partners every day.
Many useful insights that help leaders make the right decisions come from the employees who are on the front lines, working with customers and partners every day.
I recently conducted a Q&A session with our entire company, where employees could ask work-related questions and share their feedback in an open forum. As a result, everyone – myself included – received valuable information and came away with ideas about how to be more flexible and productive.
Use technology to build team productivity and flexibility
Technology and innovation have changed, even revolutionized, the workplace. New tools help teams achieve more and be more prepared for any turn of events.
Task-tracking applications, CRM software, data management tools, and other means are essential to make your team more flexible. Be creative – look for new ways they can make your team more adaptable. Also consider e-learning platforms, which can assist your team in acquiring new skills that help ease change.
There are many solutions available that you can adjust and customize for your requirements – even if your needs are extremely specific.
Being adaptable has become a necessity in today’s turbulent world. Start with a clear understanding of your company’s direction and expect change resistance along the way. Most importantly, don’t shy away from change and uncertainty – it’s often an amazing catalyst for growth.
[ Are you leading culture change? Get the free eBook, Organize for Innovation, by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst. ]
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As our software development firm grew, we learned how to become more adaptable. One example: During the quarantine, recruiters at our company searched not just for candidates but for potential clients
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