What Do You Do with Employees Who Like to Fly By the Seat of Their Pants?

The Strength of Adaptability: “Go With the Flow”

One of my top 5 CliftonStrengths is that I’m a Maximizer. Among other things, that means I like to get a maximum return on my investments. Multi-tasking is totally in my wheelhouse!

A few years ago, one of my closest friends, Natalie*, who’d been traveling and away from Grand Rapids for 3 years, invited me to come and play with her in the Northwest for a few days, I jumped at the opportunity. Excitedly, we planned to tour Washington State, head south to Portland, OR, and have lots of fun exploring together.

Did I mention that one of my friend Natalie’s CliftonStrengths is Adaptability, which means she likes to go with the flow?

I arrived in Seattle, ready to make the most of my short trip and asked her, “What’s the game plan?”

Things went downhill from there. Because Natalie needs to go with the flow—people with Adaptability as a strength feel stuck without it—she hadn’t made firm plans.

We went to these beautiful hot springs, which were very cool, but then it got late, maybe 9PM, and we didn’t know where we were sleeping. It was dark, I was wet, and I was cold. My Maximizer was not happy because that strength values efficiency and planning. I needed to mentally prepare if we were going to sleep in the car!

Fortunately, Communication and Positivity are two of my other strengths, so I explained to Natalie that I needed anchors and direction. She realized that I was truly struggling without a roadmap.

Having that conversation was key, because Natalie was willing to listen, work with me, and make changes to adapt to my needs. We realized that it would be better for me to be in charge when we did those types of trip together—so we could be assured of things like food and shelter!

Not only can these types of contrasting strengths create personal chaos, as they did at the start of our trip, they can wreak havoc in a work environment, as well.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.


How To Avoid Chaos and Maximize Talent on Your Team

When we’re aware of our strengths, and those of the others on our team, we can learn to appreciate the differences, recognize the benefits, and capitalize on it as a work team.

In this case, if you have some employees on your team who have the strength of Adaptability and other who don’t, you can see how conflict might arise.

People with Adaptability like to be in the “here and now,” they prefer to take things as they come, and are energized by constant change. If you have a crisis situation because someone dropped the ball, the person with Adaptability is your go-to-person. They thrive on reacting and responding.

Because Adaptability falls in the Relationship Building set of strengths, these employees can also provide the glue that makes a team function as a team, rather than just individuals working in the same space.

If you have an employee with Adaptability and want to capitalize on this strength, ask yourself:

·      How are you giving her flexibility and spontaneous work?

·      Is she on the front line?

·      How are you giving him ways to respond to customers or meet new customers?

·      How are you encouraging him to use his strength to help build the business?

·      How are you capitalizing on her ability to be flexible and adaptable with lots of different people?

As you think through those questions, keep in mind that you can help employees with Adaptability bring their A-game by trying to:

·      Give them urgent projects (as opposed to long-term ones).

·      Enlist their help managing change.

·      Delegate crisis management to them when unexpected situations arise.

·      Let them skip lengthy planning sessions—give them the highlights later.

·      Give them responsibility for getting to know the entire team and coming up with ways to bring people together.

Schedule an informational meeting today to find out how we can help your team achieve maximum productivity and foster cohesiveness by capitalizing on one another's CliftonStrengths.

*Natalie isn’t her real name. We respect her privacy; yours, too.


Paige Cornetet