The ability to think flexibly and adapt to changing plans, schedules and circumstances is essential to success in the workplace.
This blog is part four of Transitions’ series on Qualities Employers Look for in Job Candidates. Every person has something great to offer a workplace, including young people with autism and learning disabilities. There are certain universal qualities that all top employees possess, regardless of their industry or job level. This series will present a few of those qualities and the ways in which you as a parent, teacher or service provider can help teach them to the young adult in your life with autism or other learning disabilities.
This week’s installment discusses something that can be difficult for people with autism or other learning disabilities, but is key to thriving in a busy and ever-changing workplace: flexibility.
Many young people with learning differences struggle with flexibility. They are often more comfortable with consistent routines and predictable environments. But this is not always possible in the workplace, and employers need to know they can count on their employees to handle any changes or challenges that come up in the course of their operation. No matter what their skill or experience level is, an employee who can roll with the punches is one who is valuable to their employers. An employee with strong flexibility skills displays:
- Willingness to try new things and take on new responsibilities
- Ability to multitask and help out with various things, even if they are not explicitly in one’s job description
- Ability to adjust to changes in the schedule
- Ability to follow and obey directions
- A positive, can-do attitude
How You Can Help:
- Emphasize the importance of flexibility and being up for everything in the workplace, and give the young adult practical examples of what that looks like on the job site.
- Teach young adults flexibility through practical application. Change up their schedule and let the person figure out how to cope on their own. Allow them to adjust independently to classes and activities being rearranged or cancelled.
- Make the young adult responsible for taking next steps after plans change, such as using unexpectedly freed up time productively and noting any recurring changes in the schedule on their calendars and planners.
Flexibility in the workplace means more than just being compliant to changing marching orders. It represents genuine ability to adapt your way of thinking and cope with adversity or change independently and maturely. In other words, it demonstrates that you can grow to become the best employee you can be. For more information about Transitions and how its programs help young adults with autism and learning disabilities learn to adapt and be successful in all sorts of situations and environments, contact us at (518) 775-5384.
About the Author:
Gina Warsaw teaches Career Success courses at Transitions, which cover professional presentation, preparing resumes and cover letters, job searching, basic job skills, interacting professionally in the workplace and more. She has almost 30 years of experience supporting people with disabilities to reach their life goals, including more than 10 years focused on helping people transition into integrated community employment opportunities. Gina is currently the Director of Day Supports at The Arc Lexington.