What’s the antidote to disruption and uncertainty in the workplace?

Photo: Kati Moum – Unsplash

There are a growing number of threats that put people’s livelihoods in danger. Besides the current pandemic, there’s the ongoing economic downturn that’s caused companies to downsize and restructure their operations. The imminent implementation of automation has accelerated.  Organizations need to maximize available technologies to ease workflow and comply with safe distancing measures. On top of that, immigration policies in many countries threaten both locals and foreign talents alike. How do you ensure the future of your career and keep yourself on the job with these risks looming by the day?

The inspiration for my answer is from a Psychologist that I follow online, Julia Kristina. Although the themes of her videos are focused on personal coaching, I felt one particular episode ” How mentally strong people deal with uncertainty” is very apt in the workplace. That answer is being adaptable. 

In business and organizational management, adaptability means the ability to learn new skills and behaviors, and to make changes in response to a circumstance. By being adaptable, you open yourself up to new ideas and ways of working, you are able to accept changes, and you bounce back from challenges at a faster rate. When you exhibit this soft skill, you add value to your organization in supporting its transformation. Further, you create doors of opportunities for yourself like new projects or tasks which adds to your portfolio and makes you more “marketable”.

How do you develop and apply adaptability in your career and the workplace? You can start with the following: 

Anticipate the changes and position yourself to thrive in it – With the potential disruptions listed above, don’t think that your industry will not be affected. Keep yourself updated on what the future of your industry will be like, and equip yourself to take part in those changes.  

Learn new skills – After anticipating the changes, find out what new skills will be required in your job function. Search for free resources online or in-person setting to learn about these skills. If there are opportunities to be sponsored by your government or employer, make use of that resource as well.

Think outside the box and try something new– Just because you’re used to a certain way of doing things doesn’t mean there can’t be another way to do it, right? If your boss or colleague gives a work tip or suggestions for improvement, don’t immediately brush it off just because it doesn’t align with your beliefs. Keep your mind open to their recommendations and try doing it a few times. Adapt it if it works for you. On the other hand if a process is not delivering good results anymore, explore new methods and test it out.

Listen to experts and industry peers – Most workplaces seems to be a bubble that employees don’t know that their work processes are outdated. A simple solution is to participate in discussions or events related to your job field or industry. There’s no shortage of webinars and online events to choose from nowadays. Make sure you attend those that add value and are worth your time. Most importantly, be receptive to new concepts that they share and try them out in your workplace.

If a new assignment is given to you, say yes first – I have seen this as an inspirational message on LinkedIn, and I agree with this to some extent. The arrival of these disruptions require you to dive in head-on. “Test run” your ability to adapt to situations by engaging in activities that take you out of your comfort zone. You’d be surprised at how you can outdo yourself.  

When a dreaded event comes, ask yourself: Now what? – This is echoing what Julia Kristina said in her video. If a workplace change, challenge, or job loss happens to you, counter the negative emotions by asking yourself what you’re going to do. This is not a rhetorical question but a call to action; something that propels you to force. “So this has happened, It was beyond my control and I can’t do anything more. How do I move forward and be in a better situation? What can / should I do to address my immediate concerns? What are my resources to do that? Are there people that can help me?”. No one else can make the situation better for you but yourself. 

Disruptions and changes are now part and parcel of the workplace. Gone are the days when people can sit back, relax, and keep the status quo. Those that did suffered its consequences. Now more than ever, it’s no longer a “good to have” trait to be flexible, but an imperative to thrive, to be relevant and employable. 

PS: I’ve a new domain name! http://www.halfreformed.com


How mentally strong people deal with uncertainty video by Julia Kristina: 

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