Skills for Adaptable Employees: Types & Development

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Employees who want to be adaptive must possess a trio of important skills. In this lesson, you'll learn more about knowledge, transferable skills, and self-management skills and how they can be developed.

Adaptable Employees

Janice leads a team of six in her role as a manager at Crosley Manufacturing. Recently, the company has restructured its work teams and Janice is inheriting two additional workers who need to be integrated into her existing group. She quickly determines that these new employees need some help in becoming more adaptable. Adaptability in the workplace refers to employees' ability to not resist change, but rather, anticipate it and even embrace it.

Janice needs to identify the key skills these new employees are missing, so she can help them develop into the type of employees that will be a good fit for her existing team. Let's take a closer look at what Janice came up with.

Key Skills Checklist

The first skill Janice identified as key for adaptable employees is knowledge. Just like it sounds, knowledge is simply possessing information necessary for a particular field of work. You may be really good at filing, but if the job you're doing requires an intimate understanding of stamping on an assembly line, filing knowledge won't do you much good. Having the knowledge and expertise relevant to the job you're doing is, then, critically important.

Transferable skills was the next thing Janice realized was lacking. Transferable skills refers to the traits and characteristics you possess that you can apply to any situation. Strong interpersonal communications would be a good example of a skill you can transfer to any situation. Willingness to learn, strategic thinking, problem solving, and creativity are other examples of transferable skills that are vital for adaptable employees.

The last skill on Janice's adaptability checklist is self-management skills. Self-management is - you guessed it - how you manage yourself while completing work tasks. Do you have good time-management skills? Do you set goals and achieve them? Again, this category of skill can be applicable in any work environment or even your personal life.

Honing Key Skills

So, now that Janice has identified the skills she needs in her team members, how does she go about honing these skills in her new workers?

Building knowledge is probably the easiest place to start. This can be achieved with on- or offsite training through formal courses, workshops, or seminars relevant to the employee's job. Acquiring a workplace coaching program where a coach works through setting goals and ways to achieve them may also be a good fit. Another option is to find a mentor for an employee, someone who already has the skills you want infused in your workers.

Honing transferable skills requires a more hands-on approach for the employee. To help develop leadership abilities, for example, give employees projects - small, at first - that they can lead and learn from. Give employees control over their work. Encourage them to speak up in meetings. Talk to them about volunteer opportunities or participating in additional projects that will give them a chance to grow. This can be accomplished through informal conversations or even a more formal coaching environment.

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