Is Adaptability The Key to Engagement at Work?
Interviews have been scarce this week due to my son being sick and me having to reschedule. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking or reading about engagement, and what makes us love to work when I’ve found a spare moment.
This week a colleague of mine sent me an article by Dr. Richard Clayton about disengagement and psychological safety at work. In the article, Dr. Clayton explains that we have a preferred view of ourselves that we like to display when we work. If we are unable to display this version of ourselves, we become disengaged. When we disengage, we feel incongruity with our surroundings, and we don’t give our best selves at work.
Dr. Clayton goes on to explain that this type of disengagement happens frequently when organizational cultures are ever-changing, and suggests that leaders need to prepare employees for times of flux by creating safe environments. He discusses the typical psychometric testing model organizations use to ‘fit’ employees to culture and rightly points out that this is contributing to the disengagement (and anxiety) among those people when they feel they no longer ‘fit’ the new culture.
Given the constant flux, he explains that the most critical personality trait required for people in today’s workplaces is not one that fits the culture as it is currently, but one that fits every culture that is in a state of change – adaptability.
I agree that adaptability is vital in times of change, but not if it means settling for what’s presented to you when it’s not the right path for your needs. Leaders and managers need to be equipped to support people not only to fit into change but to move out of it if it’s the best option for that person. Also, as individuals, we need to understand our own needs better, so we’re aware of when it’s time to follow our own new path.
I’m seeing this choice presented to people who love to work time and time again. Each person makes a different choice, but they are aware of their choice, and the one they make is the one that’s best for their needs.
I’d argue that although adaptability is a vital trait in states of constant change, so are resilience, bravery (to be able to speak up for what you need), and the personal resources to create your own psychological safety by understanding what matters to you and whether the new culture is a good fit for your needs.
Adaptability is vital in a changing climate, but adapting to your new space or deciding to leave that space is a choice that’s personal to you, and only you will know the best option.
If you’re someone who loves your work, or you know someone else who does, check out the Red Ponder #LoveToWork projects and let me know if you’d like to take part! I’d love to hear from you!