Sharon Taylor - Oct 15, 2019

Four Myths About the Adaptability Quotient (AQ)

While you’re likely quite familiar with terms like IQ and EQ, you may be just learning about the newest “quotient” in the business world: adaptability.

Over the past year, the adaptability quotient (AQ) has started to get quite a bit of attention. In its Worklife 101 series, the BBC even wrote about the rising importance of AQ as the X-factor for career success.

Within a company, AQ is defined as the business’s capacity to alter course, products, services and strategy in response to unanticipated changes in the market. When it’s used to describe an individual, the term is typically defined as a person’s ability to adjust to and thrive in an environment of change.

In our rapidly evolving world, it’s understandable that leaders are interested in finding employees who have a high AQ and that they want their organisational processes and operations to be more adaptable.

As you assess your company’s – or your own – AQ, I encourage you to challenge assumptions regarding these four myths about adaptability.

Myth #1: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

As the adage suggests, many people assume that as we become more experienced in our roles, we grow more set in our ways and less open to change. The research shows, however, that employees want to learn new things.

A study by Middlesex University revealed that 76 percent of employees are looking for career growth opportunities and employee satisfaction even increases with the number of corporate trainings they are exposed to. In a study of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, 70 percent of respondents indicated that job-related training opportunities influenced their decision to stay at their company.

Regardless of age or tenure, employees are actively interested in developing new skills. They want to adjust to changing market needs and keep on learning. They just want their companies to help them do so!

Myth #2: Our organisation or team is too big to have a high AQ.

If an employee is part of a large company or department, they sometimes feel like they can’t readily alter course. While it certainly can be more challenging to effect change if you have multiple levels in your chain of command, it’s not an excuse in business.

Any time you see an improvement that could be made, you have a responsibility to share it. Seth Godin echoed this sentiment in a recent blog, encouraging individuals who discover “could have’s” or “should have’s” to send those ideas upstream.

Part of thriving through transition means that you take ownership and accountability over how you work through the transformation process. Even if you feel like a small fish in a big pond, you still can develop your AQ by speaking up about opportunities for change to help yourself and your company succeed.

Myth #3: AQ is more valuable than EQ.

I’ve seen more than a few articles suggest that AQ is more important than emotional intelligence quotient (EIQ) and some of these sentiments may come from statistics like:

91 percent of HR decision-makers reported that they expect future employees to be recruited based largely on their ability to cope with change and uncertainty.

Of course, adaptability is important in today’s workforce. To say it is more significant than EQ, however, seems like a bit of a hyperbole. After all, I would contest that these quotients work better in tandem.

The elements of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skills, and each of these capacities are useful in building AQ. To adjust to change, it’s important to understand yourself, your typical reaction to imposed change and how to regulate your own emotional responses. It can also be helpful to see the transition through the eyes of others to support your own ability to adapt.

And, if you have a high AQ, you have likely built up some skill in self-awareness and self-regulation as you can readily adjust to alterations without reacting negatively, which supports your EQ.

Simply put, both quotients have value in business and are interconnected.

Myth #4 – In Emergenetics®, you have to be in the third-third of Flexibility to have a high AQ.

In some of the trainings I’ve led, I’ve noticed that many people who are new to the Emergenetics Profile seem to think that only those in the third-third of Flexibility are adaptable. That is simply not true.

While it may take more energy to switch gears for someone in the first-third of Flexibility, who prefers to stick with a decision once it’s made, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily have a low AQ. It simply means they would appreciate the reasoning behind the shift in direction before getting on board. And you may find they are your greatest change agents once they do!

We all have the ability to increase our own AQ, and Learning and Development teams have a unique opportunity to utilise their employees’ desire to learn and help them build another valuable skill.

At Emergenetics, we understand the importance of adaptability and offer a number of trainings and applications to help employees flex their working styles and adjust to changing demands at work.

To learn more about how you can help employees build AQ, fill out the form below and ask about solutions to help your team members and company thrive.

This article was originally published in Emergenetics International Blog “Four Myths About the Adaptability Quotient (AQ)".

Written by Sharon Taylor