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Adaptability: Is it More Important Than Experience?

Adaptability: Is it More Important Than Experience?

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has written about the 10,000-hour rule. This is the idea that world-class talents only achieve their level of expertise through hours and hours of practice and experience.

Becoming proficient in a specific area has clear advantages, but can such depth of experience end up hindering performance?

“In an ever-changing world of business, a diverse knowledge-base is increasingly valued over more focused specialisms,” explains Lisa Gower of Ubuntu HR.  


“Adaptability is becoming more important than experience, which has big implications for potential employees, and for the people looking to recruit them”

Lisa Gower, Ubuntu HR


What Are Employers Looking For?

The recruiters, Reed, conducted research with 1,000 business owners and found that 96% of them would favour a candidate with the right attitude over one who had the right skills on paper but displayed the wrong mindset.

Similarly, two-thirds of employers would, if having to reduce their workforce, get rid of an employee with perfect skills before an employee who showed the right attitude.

“The qualities these employers favoured were commitment, honesty, trustworthiness, accountability, loyalty and adaptability,” suggests Lisa.


“Adaptability can give businesses a competitive advantage. With narrower operating margins and a globally volatile business environment, recruiting staff who can react nimbly and cleverly to challenges is vital”

Lisa Gower, Ubuntu HR


Businesses need employees who are open to new ideas, and flexible enough to weather changes, whether technological or economical.

“Employees, and potential recruits, need to demonstrate adaptability to ensure their success in the workplace,” Lisa advises.


What Does Adaptability Look Like?

“Adaptability goes hand in hand with attitude,” Lisa suggests. “So, when your idea is rejected, you don’t sulk, or withdraw from the discussion, but instead modify your thinking and come up with an alternative.”

Lisa points out that adaptability requires a combination of acceptance and dynamism; a willingness to listen to others while being prepared to challenge things.

“For example, this comes out in sales pitches, where you need to be able to think on your feet if the client is unenthusiastic about your initial suggestions,” she says. “Always be ready with an alternative solution.”

“Adaptability also means being willing to accept new roles, and to accept any surprises,” suggests Lisa.  “If you aren’t adaptable you are more prone to get stressed about change, or unexpected developments.


“Calmness and confidence are essential qualities in the adaptable employee, demonstrating grace under pressure”

Lisa Gower, Ubuntu HR


“Adaptability is something that can run through organisations, increasing an overall culture of confidence,” concludes Lisa.  “That’s why many employers now value it so highly.”

To improve your workplace adaptability and ensure that you are prepared for change, please call Ubuntu HR on 0161 478 8293 or visit