5 Ways to Build an Adaptive Culture

Cao Hữu Tín

An adaptive culture is “simply a way of operating where change is expected and adapting to those changes is smooth, routine and seamless.” Here are five techniques you should consider to create it for staff members and yourself.

Being Anticipatory

The adaptive corporate culture is not passive. As a leader, you need to sense unforeseen threats to the company’s stability, including a toxic work environment, conflict among employees, and competitors’ growing influences in the market. 

How do you develop an eye for impending issues? Ask your employees what aspect they want you to improve in the company. You can collect anonymous responses (survey method is a good option) to encourage honesty. 

Once you have the result of a survey or outreach, consider tackling the most expressed issue first. After that, you should discuss challenges with experienced senior staff because they might see what you don’t. Is there any warning signal or just confusing noise?

Being anticipatory saves a lot of time because you don’t have to suffer the aftermath. You use that amount of time to invest in other important plans. Moreover, you boost credibility among employees by leading them to overcome obstacles with your vision.

Communicating Effectively

In his famous book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell mentioned the example of Korean Air, in which there was an alarming increase of plane crashes in the 1990s. The airline spent time and money trying to find the best solution for this crisis. 

The answer surprised many people because it was all about communication in the cockpit. Because of hierarchical features in the Korean language and culture, first officers were afraid of discussing technical yet minor errors with captains. When they did, the problems became intractable, and tragedies happened. 

The airline fixed this problem inside out by asking all cockpits members to use English that has fewer hierarchical features.

That example underlines the importance of full communication in your company. If one day your employees did not dare to share their opinions, it would be a red flag because you could never identify problems to fix. Let them talk openly and suggest constructive ideas. Even with associates, you should ask them how the company performs and what feedback they want to give about your business.

An adaptive organizational culture needs effective communication to develop because you alone cannot know all changes in the market—and employees are valuable information sources. Two heads are better than one.

Supporting Employees

Who is the most important one in your company? Your team. 

An adaptive organizational culture includes both plans in the conference room and the flexible ways your employees deal with customers. 

There are two things staff members usually expect: recognition and credibility. Before thinking about a raise, you should evaluate what they contribute to the company’s performance. Not everything they do is explicit, so you need a subtle perspective to recognize.

Credibility is another part you need to achieve. It is not just from your promises in weekly meetings but real actions to spirit them up. For example, you protect them from criticism or encourage unity among team members. 

Encouraging Creativity

The solutions you have today will be obsolete tomorrow, and that’s why famous CEOs foster an adaptive culture to deal with novel problems. A key tip is always to respect your employees’ suggestions and never close conferences with sentences like “that’s all we have today.” Instead, make meetings more open by giving staff members chances to promote their ideas. 

As a leader, you need to keep an innovative mindset and always think out of the box. It’s not shameful to learn from competitors, and don’t be shy to ask your staff members for advice.

Making Firm Decisions

An adaptive organizational culture is not associated with hesitancy. You can think up many ideas, but you have to make a firm decision at the end of the day. Take the bull by the horns.

Being resolute is a must-have trait of any leader, and you need to take all responsibilities for consequences. Don’t be afraid of failures. They are lessons for the next moves, and your courage will stimulate your employees to be more determined in their work.

Building a culture takes time and needs consistency from all company members. However, you must be the trailblazer adaptive to novel challenges–and start from your daily routine. Write down all creative ideas from your mind and set a goal to implement them. Share the adaptive mindset with all staff members and treat them like people in your house. All you will get is a winning spirit that helps surmount all imminent difficulties.

The Aspire360 team cares about an adaptive culture in business, and our professional members specialize in helping startups and CEOs find the right path for their companies.

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