I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Adaptability to your career.
In this series, you get one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current job and your strengths.
– If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.
– If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.
You’ll get three layers to chew on:
1. Career Branding
2. Red Flag Situations At Work
3. Fresh Application Ideas
Career Branding When Adaptability Is Your Strength
You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.
Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. So many of us work on remote teams. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.
Here are a bunch of Adaptability-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:
- Early adopter
- Goes With Flow
- Thrives Under Pressure
- Enjoys Change
- First Responder
- In the Moment
Red Flag Situations For Adaptability
These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Adaptability. They could even make you want to quit the team if they get really bad. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might become detached or disengaged at work.
Here are two Red flags for Adaptability:
- Old Faithful. Just in case you’re not familiar, Old Faithful is a natural geyser. It sprays 100 ft in the air. It happens over and over again – over a dozen times a day. It’s in Yellowstone National Park, where Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho come together. If you lead through Adaptability, you might like to see Old Faithful, but you wouldn’t want to be Old Faithful. Mundane work, predictability and routine will likely bore you to tears. Repetitive work is not fun when you lead through Adaptability because you draw excitement from changes in the moment. Here’s a coping strategy: if you’re in a role where you do something similar over and over, search for the unique surprise inside of it. For example, if you do customer inquiries over and over, focus on the element that makes this person’s question unique. Focus on being fully present with the other person. Those two elements (the change/surprise part, and the right-here-right-now part) can help you find threads of motivation.
- Rich in tradition. Many companies are proud to represent years of tradition and history. If your company is heavily focused on the past, it might feel like stagnation to someone who leads through Adaptability. The stuck feeling of “same old, same old” can be frustrating for Adaptability. Even if you work for a cutting edge company that puts a heavy emphasis on lessons-learned meetings or post mortem processes, you might still feel the drain of not being able to live in the here-and-now. Every rehashing of the past can feel like an anchor in the water when you’re trying to drive a speedboat.
3 Fresh Application Ideas for Adaptability
These are ways to apply the talent theme of Adaptability at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.
For someone who leads through Adaptability, put this talent to good use with one of these options:
- Unexpected Detours. If you manage someone who leads through Adaptability, they revel in change. They’ll likely have a fun work day when they can take immediate action and work things out “on the fly.” They make people feel seen and heard during changes that are difficult for people to adopt. So pull them in to help you implement change that involves the buy-in of other people. When balls get dropped (even by others), you won’t see this person sulking on the sidelines. You’ll see productive progress. So next time you have unexpected changes at work or in your industry, think of people on your team who lead through Adaptability. Their ability to be amiable to change (on both the people and process side) can be a huge help to the team.
- Urgent Pressures. If your team works under urgent pressures, surprises, and emergencies, think of those who lead through Adaptability. Challenge them to fine-tune their responsiveness. For example, if the job demands unanticipated travel, see if they can learn to pack and leave in under 30 minutes. Also take advantage of their demeanor as a calm and reassuring person. When other teammates are upset by daily events, someone with the Adaptability talent can often help the team find productive ways to relieve stress and make progress. They can have the influence that moves teammates to acceptance rather than resistance.
Never The Same Day Twice. Avoid assigning work that requires structure and predictability from someone who leads through Adaptability. As much as you can, avoid asking them to work on a project where they’re required to follow the same operating procedures every day (or where there are lots of rules and controls). These responsibilities will be frustrating. Look for projects or roles with constantly changing circumstances. Call on them when you need to respond to constantly-differing requests of customers, guests, patients, etc.
Here’s Your Personal Branding Homework
- Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the About section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
- Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
- And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. If you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.