Surviving in the Workplace: It’s All About Being Able to Adapt to Change

It just could be about you.

  1. We tell interviewers we are “not really into that social media stuff.”
  2. We have not stayed current in our field or we aren’t articulate about trends and leaders in our field.
  3. We dress like someone in a past decade, or worse, wear a suit and tie [or the female equivalent] in an environment that stopped wearing suits years ago.
  4. We still have a flip phone.
  5. We are not physically fit and sometimes overweight.
  6. We have so much experience and have interviewed so many times we don’t spend much time preparing for the interview. Fact is, top candidates spend 8-16 hours preparing.

This is an excerpt from an article written by my good friend Bill Belknap, uber career coach with the 5’O Clock Club, the premier outplacement & executive coaching firm based in New York City but it has a national footprint.

Bill, thank you — you nailed it!

Shaking my head in disbelief

I’m just amazed by the number of folks that fall into this category, people who are completely oblivious of what is going on around them and refusing to “get with it.”  We all know someone like this, and regardless of the change that is coming, they just refuse to be a part of it.

I got an invite through LinkedIn the other day, and when I clicked over to check out this person, I found that he has all of three (3) connections. There was absolutely nothing on his LinkedIn page but job titles, company names, and duration of service. He was even too lazy to fill in his roles and responsibilities even though he has been in the banking business for over 15 years.

This is the way you should look at this. Think of LinkedIn as the new business card. As a matter of fact, I now hear many people say, “Let’s connect on LinkedIn; I will send you an invite.”

But, LinkedIn is not the only social media platform that is out there. Twitter has become the gathering place for whatever your profession is. No matter what the top issues are that your industry is faced with, hang out on Twitter and follow your profession to get a sense of what folks are talking about, as well as what people in your profession are reading

The job market is tough, no matter if you are out of work or gainfully employed, but nobody is interested in anyone that is just too complacent to keep up. Everything today is moving at warp speed, from technology to disruptions in your industry.

The starting point is out of sight

Who would have ever envisioned how the Internet has changed our lives, from desktop computing to mobile, brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, foundational companies like IBM to Facebook and Google. If you think this does not affect you and your career, you are sadly mistaken.

And the great part of all this is that it is now slowing down, but I still know many professionals who refuse to get on with it. Their thought is that if they can just hold on, they will be out of the market in 10 years or so.

That is such a defeatist attitude. I had someone tell me that “I will give you a call, because I don’t have the time to do that ‘texting thing.’ ” I’m still SMH (shaking my head).

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A young lady told me the story of how she decided to give her grandmother an iPad. Everyone in her family told her that would be such a huge mistake. The grandmother was in her mid-80’s, however what they did not realize was that she was a “young mid-80’s. When she received the gift she thanked her granddaughter so much for it. She had been reading so much about “this iPad thing” and was very interested.

She spent every day after that getting acquainted with her new toy. She took classes at the local Apple Store to learn all the tips and tricks. Now at the family gatherings, there she is showing off her apps, how she reads her newspaper, magazines, etc. She even created a LinkedIn and Facebook page.

Even in her mid-80’s, she had a hunger to get with all these new things even though her working days are long gone. I tell that story to all of my friends who are still living back in the past as if it is coming back. It is like keeping old clothes in your closet that you are just sure will come into style again. It may show up  again, but it will be an updated version of before. If you haven’t figured it out, nothing EVER goes back to where it was.

Change is hard

Change is sudden; it is like the rules have changed overnight. It disrupts our equilibrium. Whether it’s the sudden loss of a job or the changing dynamics of your work, the world you once knew is gone, and sometimes, it’s difficult to know what to do next.

Yes, it can be frightening because our survival instinct is based on being able to predict our environment and acting accordingly. When predictability disappears, so too does our sense of equilibrium.

Survival is based on adapting. And that survival is contingent on developing strategies to adapt, survive and potentially thrive during some of the worst conditions that many of us have seen in a lifetime.

Yes, my friends it is that serious.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.