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The Key To Change: Adaptability

The world is a constantly changing place, especially in the business world. Many of us are currently facing some of the biggest changes yet with the bettering state of the pandemic. Change is a scary thing, and consistency is comforting, but adaptability is the key to handling it well in any job field.

Current Change

Focusing specifically on changes due to the pandemic, many environmental, technological, and emotional changes have shaped the current and future business environments. According to Forbes “Top 10 Changes To The Business World Caused By Coronavirus” by Betsy Atkins, some of the changes you may have experienced are the continuation of remote work environments, the acceleration of digital transformation (offline to online) and an increase in shared and accessible information. A digitized work environment is something all students have been living with, and there are definitely pros and cons. Adapting to an asynchronous schedule, or a more relaxed sleeping schedule, was difficult for many at first but is now the norm. Apart from obvious adjustments, there have been many social and business trends that are making dire impacts. One trend has been “​​the dominance of giant corporations and the demise of small businesses”, leading to an unfortunate long-term decline in small business growth (Yeganeh, 2021).

In preparation for the rest of 2021, many students are getting ready to return to the classroom. Some positive business trends to look out for in the rest of this year include business model innovation to increase survival and adaptability to change, increased virtual interfaces, more localized manufacturing and selling, and more focus on sustainability and social engagement (Marr, 2020).

How can we handle change?

Now all these changes, both positive and negative, are no doubt overwhelming. How can you become more adaptable to change? Change can be difficult, no matter how drastic or small it is. One of the most important aspects of handling change well is acknowledging it and knowing that even good change can be stressful (Sarkis, 2017). Lifestyle adjustments can help, such as regular sleep, exercise, and taking breaks, but those tasks may not be possible when change and stress are at their peak. A more realistic approach may be becoming proactive as opposed to reactive, which means that if you are aware something like a big change is approaching, try to prepare yourself ahead of time in a way you know helps you feel better in the moment of change (Sarkis, 2017). This may look like booking an appointment, organizing your calendar, or spending time with people who make you happy.

The Complexity of Adaptation

Do not be discouraged if these tips do not work for you, adaptability is no easy skill. In fact, it is very complex and there are even researched theories and leadership styles that all aim to understand and create it. In an article titled “Business Innovation Through Holistic Leadership-Developing Organizational Adaptability”, Mitsuru Kodama discusses the concept of holistic leadership, and the contrast between adaptability and innovation. While organizational innovation is learning through exploration like learning new skills, discovering, and gaining knowledge, adaptability is more about exploitation. Exploitation entails the use of existing knowledge and skills to solve problems in current times using aspects like screening, efficiency and execution.

Becoming adaptable takes time and experience, so take it slow and do what works for you with changes in school or work. If you need help, please check out Ryerson’s Mental Health and Wellbeing resources.

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