Magazine article Work & Family Life

In a Fast-Changing Workplace, Flexibility Is Prized

Magazine article Work & Family Life

In a Fast-Changing Workplace, Flexibility Is Prized

Article excerpt

The workplace has become more difficult and more demanding. Because change happens so suddenly, we often have to make strategic decisions with incomplete information. We plan for things that don't happen or, even when they do, there's always some new wrinkle to contend with.

For many companies and organizations, the Web has become a huge new priority. We have more choices than ever before and also more challenges. New market opportunities arise and flourish, then disappear as suddenly as they appeared. In this ever-- shifting environment, employers and employees are judged on their ability to maneuver and shift direction. We all end up having to be more flexible and do more improvising.

Consider the alternative

Flexibility is an attitude that accepts ambiguity and uncertainty. It's the ability to move forward without seeing the complete picture. It involves a willingness to learn new skills and change your way of thinking. It requires some rolling with the punches.

The alternative to flexibility is often characterized by the "I know best" attitude and the tendency to see a single way of doing a task or a single answer to a problem. On the positive side, more rigid people can be logical thinkers who work carefully and solve familiar problems effectively. But where there's no precedent, they tend to get thrown or create delays while they review options.

Clinging to what you're sure of and avoiding any risk might seem to make people feel less fearful on the job, but it doesn't seem to work that way. Rigid people worry more. They get frustrated when plans change.

To increase your flexibility

Because flexibility is both a habit and an attitude--a way of thinking and acting--we can all learn to be more flexible without sacrificing precision, accuracy or effectiveness. Here are some suggestions to help you increase your own flexibility:

Talk a good game. Resist the impulse to nay-say the new mission for your organization or the changing emphasis in your department. Offer your own ideas for how to make a new plan work. Trying and succeeding will make you feel more like a problem-solver and risktaker, which is half the battle.

Change your routine. Think of something you do the same way every day for no compelling reason and do it differently. …

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