Technological advancements are happening at lightning speed. Customer expectations and market demands are constantly evolving. At the very same moment, economic, political, and ecological forces outside of your control are also rapidly changing.

The ability to roll right along with the sweeping changes that are constantly affecting the business world has become increasingly important. No matter what type of business you run or job role you’re in, you feel there is always something new to be learned.

You’re right. The rapid-fire changes in today’s market means that a business has to be able to quickly iterate on their ideas, products, and even their business model if they want to survive and thrive in an evolving economy.

In other words, companies have to know how to adapt to change, and so do the professionals that make up those companies. The “adaptability quotient” of an individual or business has become one of the newest buzzwords to attract the attention of those who are constantly looking for opportunities for personal and professional growth.

What Is Your Adaptability Quotient?

You’ve probably heard of your “Intelligence Quotient” or IQ. The odds are high that you’ve also heard of your “Emotional Quotient,” or EQ.

But, what exactly is an “Adaptability Quotient,” or AQ? In short, it’s your ability to adapt to change – or even embrace it – in order to continue growing and advance your career.

If you stay stuck in a rut, doing things “the old way,” even though circumstances are changing, you will end up ignoring the signals that the old way is fading or becoming obsolete. A strong AQ allows you to recognize that changes are happening in customer demand or new modes of technology are reshaping your business. It allows you to grab those opportunities when they come, rather than waiting until your company or you fall behind.

A healthy AQ can also tell you that your way of interacting with your peers is no longer serving your best interests or helping you reach your professional goals. Perhaps something has changed inside the company culture. Maybe there’s been a creative shift in the company’s strategy. Perhaps there’s been a shakeup in the organizational structure.

Whatever the cause, the one thing that remains certain is change. Your ability to recognize that changes are happening and to adapt to those changes in a timely manner determines your AQ.

How Does Your AQ Fit In With Your IQ And Your EQ?

In simplistic definitions, your IQ measures your overall intelligence, knowledge, skillset, and information retention. There are many different ways to measure IQ, but every method aims to determine something about your intellect.

Similarly, your EQ is your ability to understand and empathize with the different people, different situations, and different motivations. Your EQ is what helps you “read a room” or take a step outside of yourself and understand someone else’s perspective. At the same time, it’s also what allows you to take a hard look inward and gain self-perspective.

Each is an important aspect, and can be valuable to any professional in any industry. But perhaps the most important is AQ, as it measures your capacity to continue growing and making changes to become more valuable to your company and your team. While intelligence and empathy are extremely valuable, the ability to roll with the punches and make internal changes to fit the circumstances can make you valuable no matter where you are.

How the Three Fit Together in a Professional Setting

IQ, EQ, and AQ have all been discussed in relation to a variety of settings and circumstances. Here are some ways that each is applicable in a professional or business setting:

  • Your IQ is often easiest to assess. It’s evident from your professional qualifications and technical skills. You may demonstrate your IQ when you approach an unknown skill and start picking it up or pass through training classes with flying colors.
  • Your EQ can be a little harder to pin down – at least in the beginning. Someone's EQ is often defined through their “soft skills,” and those may take longer to show in a professional setting. You demonstrate your EQ when you effectively engage well with others, know how to communicate, and understand what it takes to contribute meaningfully to the company or team. Your EQ also shows when you are open to constructive criticism and are willing to work on those soft skills like leadership, resilience, and inclusiveness, that have room for improvement.
  • Your AQ shows through your ability to handle challenges, and to handle setbacks and “curveballs” that are thrown your way and use them for information that will ultimately help you move forward. The best way to estimate your AQ may be to examine the way that you have adapted to past issues.

These days, companies need to look for professionals who possess a blend of all three attributes – IQ, EQ, and AQ – in more or less equal measure.

This can be difficult for anyone who has relied primarily on their IQ alone to move them forward in their career. Unfortunately, these days, technical knowledge has a short shelf-life, so your ability to continuously evaluate the atmosphere of a company (using your EQ) and then make changes as necessary (using your AQ) is an essential part of your value to your company and peers.

Is AQ set, or something you can develop?

The very nature of AQ is that it’s something you can develop. The real question is, “How can you develop your AQ?” If you subscribe to a “growth mindset” and accept that neither IQ nor EQ are fixed properties that cannot be improved and refined, then you already know that your AQ can also be developed. What helps you open up to the possibility of developing your AQ? It’s been suggested that you need to:

  • Work toward keeping an open mind
  • Keep your mind and eyes open to new possibilities
  • Engage with others with an open heart, so that you can learn from fresh perspectives
  • Make yourself open to exploring the unknown
  • Be willing to become familiar with the uncomfortable

Adaptability is all about embracing change – while simultaneously taking the context of a situation into account. This means gradually exploring and stretching boundaries to see what’s a productive use of energy and what isn’t. AQ means knowing how to tolerate and even encourage different perspectives from your own.

It’s also important to create a culture around you that encourages people to speak up, to offer the silliest or most far-fetched idea in their head without fear of ridicule. If a company is supportive of someone’s attempts – whether those attempts ultimately succeed or fail – the company will foster a culture of exploration, creativity, and openness. Ultimately, that’s what helps the Adaptability Quotient of both individuals and companies grow.

How Does Feedback Encourage Professionals To Grow Their AQ?

The best way to develop any skill set is to first determine where you excel and where you need improvement. Matter’s app allows for constructive, 360-degree feedback that helps professionals of all kinds and at all levels understand how they are seen by their peers. The recipient of regular, professional feedback can use the gathered information to promote self-growth in the areas most important to that person and to their career.

Matter is for professionals who want to become the best version of themselves. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve mastery, learn, grow, and be respected by their peers. People perform better when they receive monthly peer feedback (proven by science too!). Matter makes feedback easier, pleasant, and more productive. Level up your career with Matter.