Organizations are experiencing complex and changing environments that highlight the importance of improved flexibility and adaptation. Increased competition, evolving economies, innovation and technological advancements are the many attributes that enable businesses to adapt and evolve.
This rapid and changing workplace environment means growing pressure on employees to be adaptable, flexible and tolerant of uncertainty to perform efficiently in the ever-changing and evolving workplace. This ability to effectively adapt to a changing work environment is known as individual adaptability.
Your dispositional tendency to make active attempts to adjust yourself to fit new tasks and new environments are essential in ensuring you are successful.
Ployhart and Bliese developed an individual adaptability theory called “I-Adapt.” Their theory defined adaptability as “an individual’s ability, skill, disposition, willingness, and/or motivation, to change or fit different tasks, social, and environmental features”.
The first aspect of cognitive adaptability is your awareness and interpretation of your surroundings. To become sensitive to change means that you must become aware of the fact that your environment is constantly changing and therefore, recognize that some level of response is required to adapt to the changing environment. Hence, being sensitive to your changing environment is like being in constant communication with your environment.
This refers to your ability to consider new ideas and solutions, alter the perception of situations and models, and think about things differently. Hence, cognitive flexibility is related to openness, innovation and creativity. You can only adjust better to a changing work environment; new task demands or situations when you think flexibly.
Focused attention is not just capable of predicting adaptive performance in a high task environment; but in other situations, as well. Studying employees’ adaptation to new work roles, Niessen, Binnewies, and Rank (2010) found that employees learned the new work role faster and performed better when they were able to disengage themselves from their old work role and routines, and focused on the demands of the new job.
What their study shows is that you can’t hold onto the past and make an impact in the future. Therefore, to make the desired change and to adapt effectively, you must focus on a new situation instead of holding on to the old one.
Stop dwelling on the past. Without those mistakes, you wouldn’t know how to move forward now. Respect the lesson.– Royale L’radin
It involves a set of adaptive cognitions, attitudes, or beliefs relevant for dealing with new or changing situations. Various researchers have identified optimism, hope, self-esteem, resilience, openness, personal control, and propensity to learn as criteria for individual adjustment to stressful life events.
Resilience refers to the psychological capability to “bounce back” from negative emotional experiences associated with adversity, uncertainty, and threat. Life has its phases, and sometimes you are faced with difficult decisions or situations. However, the key to remaining effectively adaptable is to remain resilient.
These are believed to be the driving force behind affective adaptability. Therefore, you can benefit from positive emotions in several areas; from improved creativity and problem solving to increased well-being, positive emotions tend to play an important role in healing processes because they can mitigate the influence of negative emotions by quieting or undoing the autonomic arousal induced by negative emotions.
Emotion regulation refers to the mechanisms by which we control our feelings and how we express them when we have them. People can manage their feelings using a variety of techniques, which are classified as either antecedent-focused or response-focused strategies.
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