By Nicky Champ
As a society, we’re experiencing more change than at any other time in recent history. Generative AI and automation are disrupting our jobs (arguably for the better), and geopolitical tensions and the pandemic are creating ever-changing market conditions. Organisations are having to adapt quickly to stay ahead of their competitors. To do this, they need creative, adaptable people who can navigate ambiguity, innovate, and take calculated risks in uncertain situations. This is where Adaptability Quotient (AQ) comes in.
AQ is a relatively new term that refers to an individual’s ability to adapt to change, learn new skills, and thrive in dynamic and complex work environments. Employees with higher AQ are valuable assets to organisations as they can help create a more agile, resilient, and future-proof workforce that is better equipped to deal with future disruptions and challenges.
AQ is not the same as Intelligence Quotient (IQ) or Emotional Intelligence (EQ). While IQ refers to an individual’s cognitive ability to solve problems and understand complex concepts, and EQ refers to an individual’s ability to understand and manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of others, AQ refers specifically to an individual’s ability to adapt to change and thrive in dynamic work environments.
IQ (Intelligence Quotient):
EQ (Emotional Quotient):
AQ (Adaptability Quotient):
Overall, employees who possess a combination of IQ, EQ, and AQ can be highly valuable to their organisations. While IQ and technical skills are important for solving complex problems, EQ and AQ can help employees navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and changing work environments.
Research has shown that employees with higher AQ tend to have better job performance than those with lower AQ. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology found that higher AQ was positively related to performance and innovation.
In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world, organisations need employees who are not only able to cope with change but are able to embrace it as an opportunity for growth and development. AQ, like having a growth mindset, is a crucial factor in an individual’s success in the workplace, as well as the overall success of an organisation.
AQ is not a fixed trait and can be developed over time. One of the most effective ways to build AQ is through continuous learning and self-improvement. This means taking the initiative to learn new skills, unlearning unhelpful behaviours (such as micromanaging), seeking feedback, and embracing new challenges.
Individuals with higher AQ tend to perform better, experience greater career success, and be more adaptable and effective leaders. Employers can cultivate AQ in their employees by providing opportunities for continuous learning and development, as well as encouraging a growth mindset and fostering a culture of resilience and adaptability. By fostering a culture of AQ, organisations can create a more agile, resilient and future-proof workforce, which is better equipped to deal with future disruptions and challenges.
Learning and unlearning
During the pandemic, we saw how many companies and industries quickly learned to pivot to keep up with the changing business landscape. Though this disruption happened virtually overnight, a process of unlearning had to take place. The old ways of working were quickly replaced by the new, such as remote and hybrid work. In VUCA environments, organisations either take a ‘fail fast’ approach to promote continuous learning or risk stagnation.
The importance of flexibility
We’d argue you can’t promote adaptability without flexibility. A few years ago, working from home was considered a novelty. In 2023, it’s standard practice, and how some people do their best work. Offering flexibility as an employer not only gives your people autonomy over their work and personal lives, but equips the organisation to better navigate further disruption.
How can your organisation adapt to the changing needs of your people? Adaptability is a two-way street between employers and employees – leaders can’t expect creativity and innovation from their people by remaining stuck in the past.
FROM THE TEAM AT TRANSITIONING WELL
This 1-hour session explores the concept of adaptability and provides practical strategies on how individuals can build up their Adaptability Quotient (AQ) to be able to respond flexibly and effectively to changes that occur in a work environment.
Find out more about this session in our Learning Catalogue here.