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By on May 27, 2014

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Lizard - Adaptable

One of the realities associated with today’s fast-paced workday world is the necessity to multi-task in order to maintain ones edge in the workplace. Yes and I did say necessity! As I continue with my series on Competency Modeling and Behavioral Interviewing related to Performance Evaluation on the job, I wish to elaborate on what is becoming a very valuable commodity in Corporate America.

I’ll define Adaptability as it pertains to the day-to-day routine and comment on just how a skilled interviewer will attempt to rate your past performance in this category. I’ll provide examples of some pointed questions used to determine that rating. Then offer responses that will assure high marks, and assuming success in the form of landing the career you really want, present game plan suggestions to improve your quest to score all “fives” in your next official performance evaluation.

If you consider the many challenges facing the landscape of today’s business with tremendous competition and the demand for “A” players in such an environment you can understand just how critical the competency is.

The Importance of Being Adaptable

To define it then becomes integral to an interviewer and interviewee alike. What are company’s looking for in an adaptable individual? One who can cope with the daily challenges positively; possess an optimistic attitude about reaction to many demands, shifting agendas, ambiguity and constant change. And someone who displays resilience in the face of constraints, frustrations or adversity is optimal.

Be alert for questions like; “chronicle a time when you were confronted with numerous demands and shifting priorities. And just how did you adjust and tackle these demands?”

A winning response might be; “while finalizing plans for the 2013 million dollar club meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico the CEO decided to switch the venue to another location on the island which prompted me to rearrange several activities and negotiate the change with minimal damage to the bottom line. Due to my resources and experience in the field I was able to redirect my efforts toward upgrading the quality and actually reducing the cost of the event resulting in what the CEO called “the most successful Club the company has ever sponsored.”

“Describe a scenario where you learned from and overcame adversity.” Try “while supporting the New York sales division as the Human Resources Manager I was asked to conduct interview training for all District and Area Managers by the Vice President. I sent an e-mail to all concerned asking what they would care to learn at the meeting…oops big mistake! You see they already had all the answers because, well after all they were sales managers in the largest division of an $8 Billion company and there was nothing I could teach them about interviewing…they responded pounding their collective chests! The solution was in the numbers. Once I researched the attrition rate and ran a “cost of attrition” number by the VP, I was warmly greeted to the session and eventually credited with improving retention significantly.” That’s being succinct and on-point addressing the question.

“Discuss a situation when a deadline caused you to reassess the time and resources needed to complete the task. And realizing you didn’t have enough of either how did you reconcile and ultimately fix it?” Over-committing in this day and time is commonplace. Competitors occasionally sign on for the impossible in order to climb the corporate ladder. This one is simple to me. “I approached my boss behind close doors and we concluded that to meet the deadline we needed more resources. We found them and successfully completed the project on-time and under budget. Result…a TEAM win!”

“Ever feel out of control? You just have too many things going on at once. How did you deal with that and what was the result? “Seems like an every day occurrence. I realize I need to respond to all stimuli in my role as Endoscopy Nurse Manager. But I’ve learned to focus and prioritize, delegate if possible and manage the critical needs in the department. Certainly the patient care piece is paramount, sometimes ahead of the Doctor’s whims, and receives my full attention. The result is a service oriented department dedicated to customer satisfaction.”

So how can one perform on the job and receive the highest score possible (5) on a yearly evaluation? Foremost is the ability to accept criticism and refrain from acting defensively. We can all benefit from this tactic.

Again in this supersonic age one needs to overcome adversity immediately, rebound from failure quickly and rise to the occasion in swift fashion the more challenging the situation. I find the more competitive the individual the more likely they are to bounce back. The football analogy here is to get up immediately after being knocked down and get back to the huddle ready to reverse fortunes on the next play.

As comfortably and effortlessly you can shift gears and recommit while responding to changes will bode well for you.

“Never let ‘em see you sweat.” Act calmly in the face of vague commands and circumstances. When taking direction from a person to whom you report, but realize the error in their ways, stay cool and focus on the end game.

Hard to do but continue to toil usefully through the stresses and pressures of the work flow. Extremely difficult to pull off especially when it is common to be faced with accomplishing two or three jobs due to downsizing.

And of course adapt smoothly to change. Easier said than done, but if you can just fathom that sometimes businesses change for the sake of change and can rationalize that attempting to stem the tide could get you sunk, you’re more than half way there.

Photo Credit: Tacluda

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