Agility. Sounds great, but let’s be honest… many of us are anything but agile, flexible, open to change, and willing to learn and grow. We like our comfort zones. We love our routines and paths and schedules and plans. We do not want to adapt, add to, or take away from. We’re content where we are. Even though being agile in our careers sounds good and impresses others, most of us aren’t.
Most of us get in ruts and grow to like our ruts. At the very least, we grow so comfortable in our ruts that change scares us, worries us, or stresses us out. You know that old saying, “Nothing changes until something changes?” Many of us are okay with that.
But we have to be careful that we don’t cling so tightly to our traditions, our routines, and our methods that our hands are too full to grab onto new insights, lessons, and opportunities.
There are so many benefits to agility in the workplace. In case you’re still feeling doubtful while reading this, let me give you some food for thought about this great soft skill.
Agility improves productivity and time management.
When you can quickly pivot due to schedule changes, technological snafus, and other issues, you waste much less time. We often fret immediately when a problem arises which disrupts our routine or mode of operation. If we spend too much time fretting, worrying, troubleshooting, and accommodating, we lose productivity. We aren’t moving forward; we’re standing still, pacing in circles.
A better approach is to quickly identify the problem, spend very little time trying to make things work as they are, and then moving to finding solutions. It’s important to recognize (very quickly) that solutions may look like alternative routes. And that’s okay.
Agility prevents resentment and toxic workplace environments.
When we’re agile in the workplace and can change focus or move our effort from one thing to another, we are less likely to create and contribute to toxic work environments.
Let me explain what typically happens… You realize something isn’t working out (whether it’s a last minute cancellation or an employee who abruptly took time off). You might spend 30 minutes stewing over this. Then you walk down the hall or email a colleague to complain about it.
By this point, you have built a resentment toward the person who cancelled, didn’t show, or disrupted your plans. Resentments are the result of unrealistic expectations.
Is it ethical and dignified to reschedule in a timely manner? Yes.
Is it ethical and dignified to give plenty of notice before taking PTO? Absolutely.
Is it ethical and dignified to introduce new ideas or alternate paths in advance, giving employees time to adjust? Of course.
But realistically, we can’t expect this is how it’s always going to go. Not only do we need to extend a little grace to others in the workplace, but we also need to recognize we ourselves don’t often live up to expectations like these. We all fall short. And while there’s a fine line between extending grace and enabling (and we don’t want to move to enabling bad behavior), we should definitely pause before we start fuming, emailing and gossiping, and letting moments like these ruin the day.
If we don’t, we’re just as much a part of the problem as the people who have let us down.
Agility results in better customer service.
When we’re agile in the workplace, we provide much better customer service. We don’t let last minute requests throw us off. We just set aside our current task and move to what has become a greater priority.
If we’re hesitant to do this, we might consider that even if it’s difficult for us to be flexible when interacting with clients or customers, it’s necessary. When we’re able to quickly change tasks and focus on the customer right in front of us, we make customers feel respected, valued, and heard.
If we want to brand ourselves and our organizations well, it’s essential. 93% of customers will make a repeat purchase with a business if they have a positive customer service experience. Why would we provide anything BUT a positive experience if we want to secure and retain business?
Agility leads to greater career fulfillment.
Lastly, agility results in greater career fulfillment. The workforce, the job market, and the economy are like shifting sands. Just consider the pandemic and its effects on these three things. So many changes. If we’re unable to adapt, we die. Our businesses fold. Our customers find other providers. And our employees jump ship for greener pastures.
On your career journey, if you’re agile, you’ll recognize opportunities when they arise, and you won’t be afraid to seize them. The end result for you will be career fulfillment and success.
If you lack agility and want to improve your soft skills, reach out to me for help.