“Adaptability is an essential quality for successful leaders. Without it, you could remain too rigid and not allow yourself to get ahead of the curve or shift when you notice that what you are doing is no longer working.”
—Monica Thakrar, Forbes
“The ability to be able to adapt to adverse circumstances, to un-learn old skills and learn new ones, is perhaps the most important soft skill you can possess. Adaptability has always been core to human nature; it is what drives evolution, but now, in a world changing with greater rapidity than ever before, we need to develop the ability to change and adapt ourselves to new challenges, now more than ever.”
—Ross Thornley, Medium.com
As we wrap up this three-part series on Adaptability, feel free to refer back to Part 1 (February issue) and Part 2 (June issue).
We started off with the WHY and setting our INTENTIONS!
Let’s reflect back on where we began this journey! Were you able to start the Adaptability journey, by Unlearning some old thoughts, processes, behaviors, and ideas? What were three of your intentions? Did they guide you?
WHO should embrace this journey of becoming more Adaptable?
The future of work is human - we all have to learn to adapt to one another AND to the changes taking place all around us! Change is happening faster than ever, and change will continue to happen at a rapid pace.
The future of work is happening now and those that wish to thrive must be able to adapt!
As stated by McKinsey, “leaders must work on transforming their relationship with change and uncertainty by building adaptability as an evergreen skill that benefits themselves and their organizations at a deeper level.”
To continue to thrive, have sustainable growth, and not leave anyone behind, we must encourage those around us to be adaptable and to grow this skill set.
Working with many contact center, customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) leaders, some of the common challenges I hear are:
- How can we attract and recruit top-tiered candidates?
- How do we retain new hires during and then well past training?
- How do we keep associates engaged so that they do not go elsewhere?
- How do we ensure schedule adherence?
Although there are many areas of concern, we can review some key areas to consider adapting in your recruitment process which will have a major impact on new-hire retention.
Recruitment Case Analysis and Application
With the challenging job market and a change in employee expectations, employers must adapt and rethink their recruitment strategies.
What worked in the past will no longer deliver the desired results. Fresh ideas must be adopted to ensure you are attracting AND retaining top talent!
The mindset towards the recruitment process must change. What worked before, i.e., posting on a job board and being flooded with resumes to choose from, taking your own sweet time in connecting with the candidates, minimal communication, and poor onboarding will no longer work!
Understand that the recruitment cycle starts from the time the job is posted. The EX must be stellar to ensure the right candidates are attracted and “stick” throughout the journey!
...change will continue to happen at a rapid pace.
Here are four basic recruitment actions that your company can implement in order to adapt to the changing marketplace.
Please note that all leaders will be required to have an open/growth mindset towards the changes.
- Be intentionally purposeful at every point of contact.
- Increase social media and branding efforts. Let the marketplace know your community involvement and “what’s in it for the potential candidate.”
- Timing is everything! Ensure quick turnaround time from candidate resume submittal to first touchpoint, interview(s), assessments, and then final decision. Any delays in the process could cost your organization the opportunity to recruit great talent!
- Warm, welcoming touchpoints! Ensure that each point of contact serves as a Brand Ambassador of your organization, by being warm, welcoming, and respectful of each candidate.
One specific problematic example comes to mind. Here are the factors.
Guiding principles. This organization did not have any principles in practice to ensure that the collective organization had a commitment to building a fully adaptable organization ready to embrace the changing employment landscape.
Adaptability Insight: to start any transformation, there must be a commitment across the company to practice adaptability design principles required to be purposeful and ready to thrive during times of rapid change!
Social Media and Branding. This organization was great on the social media and branding part, they shared examples of community involvement, giving back, smiling, diverse faces in the contact center and the list goes on.
Adaptability Insight: the company had adapted to the changing marketplace with great marketing messages and a social media campaign.
Turnaround times. The disconnect with a great EX started when candidates applied but were not contacted for more than a week after. Their applications are not even acknowledged with an automated message.
Adaptability Insight: reviewing the recruitment cycle, I saw that the old standard timings were still being applied, the recruitment KPIs and metrics had not changed even though the marketplace was demanding it!
The company had not adapted to the changing demands of the rapidly changing marketplace where there is a struggle to attract and recruit top-tiered talent.
The leadership in this organization needs to change their mindset on the communication turn around times during the recruitment process. The discussion of when the EX begins must be examined.
People skills. If and when they are contacted it was by someone lacking warm interpersonal skills, showing an indifference to the candidate and asking or telling basic information in a monotone or disinterested manner.
Adaptability Insight: as an operations leader, it is important that you are aware of all the touchpoints in the recruitment cycle. There must be a commitment and alignment by all to ensure that.
As a side note, some organizations require too many interviews for front-line candidates, or some companies are not flexible to the timing requirements of candidates with family responsibilities or their current employment.
Case Reflection Question:
What should this organization have done to adapt their thoughts, processes, views, and behaviors?
Feel free to share with me at [email protected] and we can share for a follow-up article.
Self-Reflection Exercise 1
What actions, thoughts, behaviors, biases do you need to Unlearn?
Leadership Reflection Exercise 2
How will you adapt your Mindset to create an environment for your team to thrive?
1. Leadership Style
2. Collaboration Style
Leadership Insights on Adaptability
As with every article I do, I love to gain the insights of various leaders. In this article, I had the privilege of speaking with Mark Miller, Practice Leader, Customer Service Advisory, J.D. Power. I have heard Mark speak several times as a keynote speaker and in webinars and have tremendous respect for his insights.
How does Adaptability shape the future of work?
“At J.D. Power, we view adaptability as a key-success criteria for the future leader. From workplace dynamics changing from a brick-and-mortar environment to hybrid and full-virtual, that change alone shifts massive amounts of pressure to the frontline leader, and those who support them.
“This change in how people want to work and will work, will necessitate leaders to think and work differently in the near, medium, and long-term future.
“Add in AI [artificial intelligence]-enabled applications and true blended channel interactions that will eventually fulfill promises of better, more proactive, personalized, and seamless service delivery across all channels, the leader will be forced to adapt over-and-over again to a changing environment.”
With such challenges in the marketplace, Mark continues to share his insights on Adaptability and the impact on the EX.
How does being an Adaptive Leader impact the Employee Experience (attraction and retention)?
“At J.D. Power, we still see some reticence by leaders to get on board with the notion that work-from-anywhere is here to stay.
“Though there are undoubtedly advantages to a traditional contact center environment that many of us grew up in, (notably camaraderie, support infrastructure, culture creation and maintenance, etc.) the reality is that the vast majority of our contact center frontline workforce today doesn’t want to work in that environment.
“This means that unless there is some super-prevailing force that overcomes the benefits of working from home in the minds of our workforce, we have to recruit and retain our team members in a hybrid or fully virtual environment.
“Once we have accepted this operational state, we must start looking to link an individual’s purpose with the job if we hope to find and retain engaged and committed employees.
“In other words, there must be meaning derived from work that transcends a paycheck or a pleasant working environment, and the adaptive leader will ensure that the environment provides an opportunity to get true meaning from the role the frontline is playing now and into the future.
“One key to this in a focus on the frontline leader, so we advise our clients to over-index on your frontline management team and invest heavily to give them the additional time, and skills of a life coach, which are required to facilitate a more meaningful experience for their employees.
“The frontline leader must be able to overcome the physical distance they are managing within by working with their new hires (even before they start, ideally) and agents on a personal level to facilitate the expression of unique skills and talents that create an emotional benefit to the customers their agents serve.
How will you adapt your beliefs and perspectives to be more adaptable?
“Combine these new skills and the intentional reduction of barriers to meaningful work (grind) in the workplace, and the adaptive leader, from the executive down to the frontline, will succeed where others struggle.”
Another challenge that many companies are facing is retention of agents during times of change. I had the honour of interviewing a contact center leader that successfully managed to engage and empower his teams during times of stress and challenges out of their control.
I asked Keith MacKinnon, Director, Installed Base & Customer Care, Medtronic Canada this question.
How has being adaptable and resilient helped you and your team manage through challenging times?
“We are currently undergoing a number of supply chain challenges as a company. As a leader I feel it is important that I am as transparent as possible with the team. This ensures the team is part of the process and are empowered to share alternative solutions.
“This Groupthink allows us to come up with best solutions possible and ensure everyone is part of the solution. As we adapted, we were able to provide the team alternatives to products to offer our customers. We have found ‘choice’ is the best way to handle these situations, so whenever we can give the customer a choice, we offer it.”
Adaptability Insight: this is a great example of how making a pivot to adapt quickly enabled Keith and his team to continue to deliver a meaningful CX during challenging times. Empowering the team, helping them be more resilient to the challenges allows him to retain top-tiered staff!
Leadership Reflection 3
Looking at the current work trends and then planning for the future of work, how will you ensure the future is focused on thriving and not just surviving? How will you adapt your beliefs and perspectives to be more adaptable?
1. Recruitment and onboarding
2. Inclusion and diversity
3. Retention strategies
4. Development/upskilling/reskilling of your team members
I hope this three-part series was of value to each of you. Wish you continued success in your own personal and professional development journey.
In gratitude, Sangeeta.