How to Measure Flexibility

January 8, 2020 Evan Theys

For most employers, flexibility is an important characteristic for employees to have.  But how can we measure it?  Find out in this article.

flexibility working


For most employers, flexibility is an important characteristic for employees to have. It is about their willingness and ability to modify or adapt their approach based on the current situation. Typically, we see that those who have a more flexible mindset are more likely to try out new approaches, be less tied by tradition and flex to accommodate new demands. 

But what about those who are not so flexible? Can they too be valued employees? Most certainly. Think of the situations in which we need people to be unwavering in their approach and those who adhere to the rules and policies and not always looking to develop something new. We need those people. 

Different roles and teams require flexibility to a greater or lesser extent. How can we measure the flexibility of a person, and how does this personality characteristic interact with other characteristics?

The ADEPT-15® personality model covers 15 aspects of personality which are arranged into 6 broad workstyles. The Flexibility aspect or dimension together with the Conceptual and Mastery scales, forms part of the Adaptation workstyle. The Adaptation workstyle measures how individuals expend their effort.

How is Flexibility Seen in Behavior?

The Flexibility dimension of ADEPT-15 measures the extent to which a person is adaptable in their approach to work and comfortable with doing something new, as opposed to preferring to stick to an established way. As with scores on all personality dimensions, a score in either direction on the Flexibility dimension has both potential positives – and potential watch-outs.

Take a look at some of the points to leverage, as well as some of the areas to watch out for.

The Leverage Points

Those with a high score on the Flexibility scale are likely to:

  • Want variety and change and to try new things
  • Be very flexible and adaptable;
  • Continually evolve their opinions and approaches.

Those scoring low on this scale tend to:

  • Be unwavering in their opinions and beliefs;
  • Prefer to take the trusted approach than develop something new;
  • Support using established procedures and processes.

The Watch-Outs

Watch out for the following with high-scorers on the Flexibility dimension:

  • May advocate for, or pursue, unnecessary change;
  • More easily bored and inconsistent in their approach and opinions.

For the low-scorers on Flexibility, watch out for:

  • Less interest in new ideas and experiences;
  • May be perceived as rigid and unyielding;
  • Resistant to change.

The Role of Flexibility in the Workplace

Organizations are arguably under greater pressure now to shift, change and adapt than they have been previously. As such, it is important to understand how comfortable a person is likely to feel with change and developing new ways of working.

Adapt to Individual Differences

Individuals with high Flexibility scores will be more likely than others to adapt their behaviors to address the situation they find themselves in. This indicates that they will be more willing to adapt to individual differences and modify their behavior when interacting with others.

Champion Change

Because those with high Flexibility are open to new ideas and experiences, willing to evolve their opinion and approaches, and tend to prefer variety, they are likely to display enthusiasm for change.

Resolve Conflicts

Those with high Flexibility scores are much more open to exploring innovative, win-win solutions rather than adopting conventional approaches or settling for fair compromises.

Seek Challenge and Novelty

Individuals that score highly on Flexibility are comfortable being uncomfortable, constantly pushing outside of their comfort zone to gain new experiences and are eager to take on projects or assignments where new knowledge or skills are required. As such, they will be more likely to seek challenges and new experiences at work.

Compensating for an Individual’s Flexibility Score

We have looked at how Flexibility as a single construct is portrayed in behavior at work, and how there are both positives and negatives to this trait.

Let us now consider how scores on other ADEPT-15 dimensions can mitigate for a person’s Flexibility score and shape how it is behaviorally displayed.

When Flexibility scores are low, we need to look at other scales:

  • Higher Cooperativeness and Mastery can help ensure low scorers are willing to accommodate others and interested in learning new things, which can mitigate inflexibility issues.

When an individual has a high score on the Flexibility dimension, you may like to look elsewhere in the profile for:

  • Higher Awareness can help mitigate the risk of constantly changing opinions.

 

For more about assessing the preference for power in your candidates and employees, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®

 

About ADEPT-15®

ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles, and tendencies as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. It indicates our strengths and areas for development as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.

*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award

About the Author

Evan Theys

Evan serves as the leader for Aon's Assessment Solutions Product Development team in North America. In this role, he manages and supports the development of innovative, forward-thinking assessment solutions, and partners with leaders across Aon to develop the strategy for the global products portfolio as well as bringing new products to market.

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