FlexibleRecently, the iPhone 6 was released, and reviews and feedback on the newest mobile device came pouring in. Generally, some system bug or software issue is to blame for negative feedback, but when Apple released their newest phone, a hardware problem presented itself. Introducing #Bendgate: the hashtag given to the multiple instances of iPhone 6s warping in the pockets of their owners.

While there are a lot of opinions on how much this unwanted flexibility affects the quality of Apple’s products and reputation, there’s one thing professionals can all agree on: a great team is flexible.

Break Down the Silos

Similar to the big, metal structures that stand high above us, a silo mentality will loom over your company, placing ominous shadows on the workflow. While it’s important to find a candidate that has skills and cultural fit, there’s something to be treasured in one who is open to new experiences and changes.

Silos in the workplace occur when an employee feels that a task doesn’t fall on them or their department. In other words, it’s the infamous “that’s not my job!” mentality. Some big corporations can get away with employees like that, but most teams need individuals who see a problem and offer a solution, whether it’s in their wheelhouse or not.

If your organization seems to be suffering from the silo mentality, consider your own habits. Make a point to ask how coworkers are doing in their projects and offer to help when they seem stumped. If they don’t need help today, they’ll remember your offer next week when that random problem does arise. It’s important to remember that no matter what you are doing for the company – recruiting, hiring, managing, or otherwise – all people are working for the same goal.

Cross-Train the Employees

It’s very difficult to feel comfortable doing anything outside your role when you have little to no knowledge of the process. A culture and office structure cannot become flexible when there is no initiative to make it such. The good news is that you can start cross-training right away and create a team of ready-for-anything employees.

successful cross-training venture can start small. Simply pulling a freed-up coworker into a small weekly or monthly task is a step in the right direction. For example, ask your cubicle mate if they knew that the company ATS had a template building feature and offer to show them how it all works.

Encourage your own learning by asking knowledgeable coworkers how parts of the their job works. Express interest in learning more about things you find confusing or think you might have a knack for. Before long, conversation will move on to the more intricate processes, new talents will surface, and hindrances caused by reliance on coworkers will dwindle.

Hire for Tomorrow

When all is said and done, some personalities aren’t fond of change. Whether a current employee is open to learning new skills or not, hiring for flexibility is something to consider. Startups and small businesses rely on their employees to go with the flow, and not all people are cut out for it.

When an opening presents itself, consider the position and the skills needed to fill it. Then think of other departments that are lacking or could use a boost. Narrow your candidate pool by looking at applicants who have some of the skills and experience needed for the initial position; then, in the interview, ask about other interests or knowledge they have. Be transparent in each interview about how being versatile and adaptable is pivotal. Provide examples of other places and departments that have needs after explaining the original position.

Though Apple’s stock has suffered a bit from the phone’s malleability, your company will benefit from adjustable employees. Just getting by is no way to boost productivity and will leave your office stagnate and unmotivated. Support current employees who are learning new skills, encourage constant learning, and hire people who are open to both.


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