Be like nature – select for adaptability

Something doesn’t add up

Nobody in the history of recruitment has ever put ‘doesn’t adapt well to change’ on their CV, even though the human brain is hard-wired to resist change. Too many people lack the counter-intuitive skills required to overcome that primal instinct to perceive all change as the Big Bad Wolf, even when it’s Grandma. And yet on paper, everyone it seems, is a champion of change.

From facts to feelings

It’s no accident then that recruiters have finely honed olfactory organs that can sniff out gilded lilies at twenty paces. But even then, proof of delivering a specific change initiative isn’t necessarily proof of championing a culture that can adapt to any change. So to help identify the latter, there is another approach.

It’s easy to exaggerate what you’ve changed, but it’s much harder to bend the truth about how you think and feel about change itself. There are a few searching questions that can quickly throw light on a candidate’s Adaptability Intelligence, such as:

a) How vulnerable have you been with your colleagues about any fears, anxieties, and self-doubts you’ve had about the change challenges you’ve faced?
Because vulnerability builds trust, and trust underpins everything.

b) Describe how you’ve coached others to become more open-minded to the idea of change?
Because to build an organisational culture that is adaptable, everyone needs to be adaptable, not just the C-suite.

c) To what extent are you driven by the personal benefits (such as more freedom) that can accrue from embracing change?
Because such self-motivation will in turn deliver the strategy more quickly and more completely.

What’s 8 billion divided by 3?

People’s relationship with change falls into one of three categories:
1) Resist first, ask questions later. Then ignore the answers and resist some more anyway.
2) Passively succumb. This provides diplomatic immunity from commitment, enabling the deployment of both ‘I didn’t want this’ and ‘I didn’t stop this’, depending on the audience.
3) Embrace. Because change is the best chance we have in life to find out what we’re really capable of.

Here’s the key takeaway

Recruiters need to be satisfied that candidates have actually done what they claim, of course. But, in the spirit of Drucker’s ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’, what’s at least as important is confirming that people’s achievements are the result of an adaptable mindset. That’s because it’s possible for people to claim the battle when in fact they had fought against the need to fight. And it’s possible to have fought the battle without conviction, somehow winning in spite of – rather than because of – themselves.

But only those who can demonstrate they are adaptable to change should be credited with victory. Because they will win not just the organisation’s battles, but its future.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch, and I look forward to connecting with you soon!