Skills for Success: Adaptability

The Government of Canada recognizes that adapting to change, both planned and unplanned, is a valuable skill in the modern workforce. The Skills for Success framework (previously called Essential Skills) consists of nine skills. The skill of adaptability helps people deal effectively with change, learn new skills and behaviours when needed, stay focused on responsibilities and goals, and not give up when situations are difficult. Adaptability means, “your ability to achieve or adjust goals and behaviours when expected or unexpected change occurs, by planning, staying focused, persisting, and overcoming setbacks.” With the right resources, we can learn how to apply these skills in our everyday lives. To help support this essential skill, we have gathered resources on adaptability.

“Adaptability is the skill of feeling okay when you have to change how you think or act. To adapt is to be okay with change.” – ABC Life Literacy Canada

The video below offers an introduction to adaptability.

Adaptability tips

Change in the workplace is now a given. Here are some tips to improve your adaptability skills (adapted from Learn and Grow: What is adaptability in the workplace?):

  • Be responsive to new information. It may not be what you expected, so ask questions and do some research.
  • Commit to personal development. Explore opportunities for further training such as the latest technology tools, public speaking or other soft skills. Work with your manager to find possible opportunities to shadow colleagues in their jobs.
  • Determine what is in your control and what is not. When unexpected change happens, don’t waste your energy on things you cannot control. However, you can be proactive on things that are in your control or that you may influence. Put your focus on what you can control.
  • Suggest or implement improvements to a process. Demonstrate initiative; show that you can adapt to the changes that will result from the new process.

Keep in mind that some neurodiverse learners, such as those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), may struggle with adaptability. For more about teaching adaptability, check out the resources below.


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