Importance of adapting to change

| October 3, 2014

Resisting or ignoring change can stunt organisational growth or stop it all together. Sarah Colley highlights how to help foster an adaptable working environment.

One important, rapidly changing environment humans have had to adapt to is that of the workplace. Gone are the days when women stayed at home with the children and men were the sole bread winners; as are the days when the technology of today was a mystery and a mere myth of the future; and gone are the days when relying on others in a team was seen as a sign of weakness.

The above mentioned are just a few of the changes the Australian workplace has experienced in the last 10 to 20 years. Without us even realising, the workforce is constantly adapting to the continuous changes of technology, multi-cultural interaction, reforms and the instability of the economic climate. Whilst adaptability appears to be a necessity, not all members of the workforce find it easy to “jump on the bandwagon”.

No longer individuals on a production line, in the age of information organisations increasingly structure their workforce using teams. According to Darwin, it is the most adaptable of the teams that will survive and thrive and thus it is absolutely essential that these teams are functioning at their best.

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself,” Charles Darwin – Origin of Species.

High performing teams allow for the sharing of diverse ideas, a collective knowledge base, members can motivate each other, they can act as a support system and members can also provide mentoring to one another to foster growth and confidence. On the other hand, when teams are dysfunctional, it can result in a lack of trust, unhelpful conflict, lowered commitment, avoidance of accountability, vicious compliance and consequently results are compromised. Often dysfunctional teams arise as a result of team member’s inability, or unwillingness, to adapt to change. If an organisation has too many teams unable or unwilling to adapt to change that organisation is facing extinction.

It doesn’t matter how much intellectual capital or financial strength an organization has, according to Darwin, if the organisation, and the teams it is comprised of, do not adapt then organisations will be left behind, potentially even ceasing to exist, weeded out by the natural selection of the adapting work world.

For many, whispers of change are worse than those of blasphemy. Change is often perceived negatively, viewed as inconvenient, unnecessary or even dangerous. This is a natural psychological reaction, built into the human survival mechanism. So how can we assist our workforce to not only adapt to change, but thrive in it?

Pockets of Brilliance in conjunction with NeuroPower have developed a team based assessment tool that can be used to help organisations build and develop adaptable teams. The assessment is based on a neuropsychological framework of teams and was developed using the RELISH framework.

The tool is useful in helping teams learn about their strengths as well as developmental opportunities and can provide valuable insights in times of change.

Change can mean continuous improvement, fresh and flowing ideas, much like the water in a river. Resisting or ignoring change initiatives can stunt organisational growth or stop it all together, much like the water in a puddle. So ask yourselves this, would you rather drink from a flowing river, or drink from a puddle?

If the answer is river, contact Pockets of Brilliance to help you develop your good teams into brilliant teams.

Dr. Sarah Colley is a change and innovation psychologist, specialising in the application of psychology to organisational settings. She has studied psychology and the human mind for over 12-years and is a member of the Australian Psychological Association. Sarah has spent the past eight-years developing and applying innovative psychological processes to organisational workplaces to enhance innovation, culture, leadership and team effectiveness. Sarah has worked across a range of industries including museums, government, mining, explosives, energy, smelting, and shipping. Her work has taken her across America, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, where she has worked with operational staff through to senior executives. At Pockets of Brilliance Sarah leads a team of talented psychologists who work as business collaborators. Pockets of Brilliance apply insights from psychology, neuroscience and human-centered design to help organisation innovate, create and transform the way they do business.