To ensure employees have this trait, talent managers will have to change the hiring process and implement a feedback approach to support systemic change at all levels of an organization.
However, change for change’s sake is not an effective solution, and simply hiring new individuals who score high on adaptability scales isn’t likely to correct higher-level cultural issues.
If a business is stuck in neutral, it can’t immediately shift into fifth gear to support resiliency. Employers shouldn’t expect to throw change agents into a stagnant pond and hope they will create the right waves.
New, adaptive hires must work with the same individuals who created that stagnant pond. The incumbents are invested, but placing the responsibility to change an organization on the newly hired is risky.
Ultimately, they’ll grow wary of thrashing, walk out of the pond, towel off and move on to a company where they can put their strengths to work. They are, after all, well-suited for change.
Understanding the values of organizational sub-cultures, which can be done via surveying or informal networks, can help identify the challenges a company likely will encounter in support of resiliency.
It also helps identify the areas that can better help a company accomplish its goals. Further, by identifying common sub-cultures and pockets in the organization that are more receptive to change, employers can line up appropriate selection processes and make the right hires.
Recruiters can identify those who share the adaptability gene via a number of avenues. But the ultimate arbiter is the behavioral interview process.
Asking candidates to discuss times where they had success changing their team’s behaviors or decision-making process is only the starting point. Odds are their immediate response will not be a good one.
To probe deeper, recruiters and hiring managers should ask potential candidates:
• What led up to that situation?
• Who was involved?
• What did you say?
• What did you do?
• How did they respond?
• How did you do it?
• What happened next?
• Walk me through it.
• What was the result?
The interviewer likely will need to get comfortable with dead air, but the longer he or she can wait, the more one can learn about a candidate’s experiences.
Hiring is a significant lever to initiate change, but it’s wasted if not deployed strategically. Change is about understanding an organization’s current state accurately so a plan to change for good can be developed.
The plan needs to identify any potential change obstacles, and how talent managers can get the right people in line to help support the initiative.
Natalie Baumgartner is a co-founder and chief psychologist for RoundPegg, an online culture management platform. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.