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Building a culture of adaptability – how to keep your business thriving in a rapidly changing world

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said: the only constant in life is change. With the whole world trying to make sense of the changes brought by the pandemic, these words echo stronger than ever, and they most definitely apply to the business landscape as well. In the rapidly changing and highly unpredictable business environment of today, companies big and small only have two options: they can either adapt to change or die.

Since living with a sense of impending doom is not a viable option for business owners and entrepreneurs, building greater resilience and adaptability remains the only prospect worth considering. Achieving this goal is a lot easier when these two elements are embedded within the business culture. 

As an entrepreneur, building a culture of adaptability in your company can help you navigate the challenges you may face in the future and thrive even in times of uncertainty and crisis. But how does one set the foundation for an adaptable business to begin with? While there’s no secret recipe behind it, there are a few expert-recommended strategies that can help you prepare for the unknown and fortify your business.  

Lead by example

Another famous quote, this time attributed to Gandhi, says be the change you wish to see in the world. In the business world, this saying can be adapted to be the change you wish to see in your company. Therefore, if you want to build a culture of adaptability and resilience in your business, you have to show resilience and adaptability yourself, so others can learn from you and follow your example.

If you’re going to talk the talk, you should also walk the walk. You can demonstrate flexibility and adaptability by creating a safe environment in your business where everyone is welcome to share their innovative ideas, provide honest feedback without being judgmental, and accept failure as a normal part of the process. If you can do that, you can be sure that your staff members will be a lot more open to change in any form it comes. 

Hire adaptable people 

The values and beliefs of the people that work in your company have a direct impact on company culture. Instead of hiring people with a completely different vision from yours, then trying to change their mindset, you should focus on finding individuals who are already adaptable and flexible.   

This is especially important when looking for candidates to fill in leadership positions. In the past couple of years, executives had to adapt to the pandemic and the hybrid work model it imposed to keep businesses afloat. They couldn’t have done that if they wouldn’t have been flexible and willing to embrace change. These are the kind of people you want to have in your company if you hope to build a culture of adaptability. 

Don’t be afraid of failure  

Adapting to change is never an easy or linear process. It’s bound to bring many ups and downs, and a whole series of setbacks before one can finally find a balance. This means a lot of things will go wrong as you’re trying to change your ways by implementing new strategies or reacting to the influence of external factors. 

You have to acknowledge the need to go through a trial-and-error process at times and let your employees know it’s ok to make mistakes. Fear of failure is detrimental to business growth. Instead, you should use your failures as a tool to encourage your team members to find better solutions for the problems you’ve identified and support continuous learning.

Look for opportunities to innovate 

Just because things are going great in your company doesn’t mean they can’t go better. There’s a lot of room for improvement, in any industry and business. Change shouldn’t always be driven by an external force or an event that you couldn’t foresee or control. Sometimes it has to come from within, powered by the desire to innovate and evolve.  

Therefore, it’s better to be proactive rather than have a reactive approach. Strive to find opportunities to bring innovation and ingenious solutions to the table. So, when the time comes to make a change, you’ll already have the tools and the know-how that will put you one step ahead of the competition.

Foster a growth mindset 

Change often has a negative connotation attached to it. Many people perceive it as something that they need to do, not something that they want to do. That’s not the kind of mindset you should build your company around if you want to ensure adaptability. 

You should think of change as an opportunity to grow and evolve, not an obstacle that you have to overcome. When a new challenge comes your way, ask yourself what you can learn and gain from it. The issues you encounter along the way can be blessings in disguise that might bring benefits to your business, so try to use them to your advantage.  

Encourage continuous development 

As the business landscape continues to evolve and change, you have to keep pace with it. That’s a lot easier when you have skilled individuals in your company who can tackle these changes and keep your business running smoothly in all circumstances.

Apart from building a diverse team, with people from different backgrounds possessing a variety of skills and abilities relevant to your business, you should also invest in training and education. Employees should be encouraged to grow with the organization and expand their knowledge and skillset over time to improve their adaptability. The more they learn, the better equipped they’ll be to handle change and disruptions.  

Keep in mind that making your business more resilient and adaptable by building your company culture around these values is not going to happen overnight and it’s not a one-time-only effort. All the strategies mentioned above have to be implemented over the course of time and be revisited when need be in order to achieve long-lasting results. 

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