Last year demonstrated the need to have adaptability as one of your key traits. The Covid-19 Pandemic swept across the world, rendering many to be lost in limbo. Changes in how people work and think, something once thought impossible became a norm. Of the many, virtualisation has seen itself becoming a valuable factor in the current economy. Needless to say, companies like Zoom and Amazon, who benefitted from the crisis managed to propel to greater heights. While airline companies found themselves suffering at the onset, their ability to adapt to their environment allowed them to think of innovative practices to sustain their business. Likewise, governments that have effectively curtailed the detrimental impacts of the crisis have also found itself being rewarded in its elections and the swift recovery of its economy. Effectively, these companies managed to do so because they could adapt to changing environments. We all could take a page out of their playbook. Here are three effective methods you can undertake to deal with changing environments.
1. Draft plans
If you do not have a plan, then you are planning to fail. This is the first step any leader should undertake before they can scale to greater heights. People who often move about with spontaneity (and no clear goal or plan) might find themselves stuck in sticky situations and not having a solution to deal with it.
Mind Maps have found themselves to be one of the greatest educational tools the world has to offer. The reason for this is simple. It is able to facilitate a flow of thoughts that is fluid and deconstructed. It allows for people to easily absorb small bits of information before consolidating them at the end. Essentially, it is a pseudo-checklist of knowledge where you can backtrack anytime. As leaders, being exposed to new environments can be inundating and thoughts often become fragmented. The issue with having fragmented thoughts renders you to be confused, and lost. Creating a plan, with your thoughts on pen and paper gives you better flow and a better understanding of what might happen and what you should do.
The key things that leaders should observe when crafting a plan is the behaviours of the people they are working with, and how they are reacting to them. Being able to analyse a person’s behaviour allows you to strategise how to communicate with them better and using the business climate to your advantage.
Ultimately, being able to understand the changes in your environment in depth gives you a broader perspective in crafting plans to deal with any situation.
2. Acknowledge shortcomings of yours and those around you and work around them to your advantage
The environment you are in might have changed, but what’s next?
Sometimes when people take a moment of introspection, they realise that perhaps they are not the perfect figures they thought they are. I’m not talking about physical features, but your skill sets and non-verbal behaviour. You might find yourself to be a micromanager, an introvert or even someone who is both. The possibilities of your shortcomings are endless. This is the same for the people who you work with. They are imperfect creatures as well. Except for some people, including you and me, we often have trouble acknowledging our flaws because God forbid we are not good at everything! In actuality, if being an imperfect being is truly disastrous, then civilisation would have ended a long time ago.
I remember interacting with a bunch of Primary School Children who shared how plants grow. The fundamentals of sunlight and water are necessary in allowing for the production of food and the transporting of nutrients. If there are none, the likelihood of the seed or sapling dying is high. They explained that when a plant doesn’t find the water it needs, it grows its roots further in search of it. Same goes for sunlight. A plant will grow towards an opening where it is in the best position to achieve sunlight, even if it's just a crack in a wall. Plants like these also tend to be stronger than those who have an unobstructed release of water and sunlight. This idea is something that can be translated in our everyday lives. When we come across a brick wall, good leaders do not wallow in self-pity or admit defeat. They push harder to make the best of what they have. If anything, they work around it and get stronger. This proverbial room we are trapped in are the shortcomings of ourselves and those around us. They are obstacles that obstruct us from reaching our maximum potential, yet are also important factors in allowing us to build greater strategies and skills in the future.
Being first able to acknowledge that you do not have the same luxury (water and sunlight) as the others gives you a heightened perspective and is the impetus to better yourself. As famous mathematical statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb put it: “The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.” If you do not adapt, you risk being eliminated.
3. Keep an open mind; Do not resist
If your fear is being replaced, then it might be irrationality and paranoia, but there is also some logic behind it.
When change comes our way, it brings along dissatisfaction and frustration. Being in a foreign environment generates a lot of uncertainty, and you think you are beginning to lose your grip on your skills and power. When we throw other negative emotions into the mix, we lose our pragmatism. Being rational is important in a leader. While life in the office can get competitive and leaders are not immune to being replaced, a good leader understands that a team is only as strong as its weakest link.
That said, the largest resistor is not to technical changes, but to social change. Being thrown into a foreign environment renders your original way of communicating obsolete. You are tasked to face new people, and even a new way of operation and there is no one to guide you. This makes a large proportion of the population less willing to adapt, and many find themselves burnt out.
To deal with this, it is important to remain rational in your decision-making. Regardless of your position, it is important that you attempt to correct mistakes in productivity in your new environment. Essentially, you are bringing along your good practices to enhance the efficiency of your current workplace.
But trying to invoke change in a period of transition is not the same as actually implementing it. Most get disheartened when their efforts do not bear any fruit. They are in fact less willing to do so in the future. In situations like these, it is important to do as the Romans do. Change does not happen overnight, and you should not expect mass changes to commence the moment you decree.
Ultimately making an effort to keep an open mind warrants your own mind to interpret change as less frightening. It prevents you from getting the jitters, and keeps you excited for what’s to come.