Thoughts From Our Heads

Thoughts From Our Heads


Control Freak? The High Arranger, Low Adaptability Curse

Tuesday 30th May 2017

I consider myself to be a fairly easy-going person. I hate planning too far in advance. What am I doing this weekend? I have no idea its only Tuesday! Would I like to go Skiing next January? Maybe, ask me again in December. I often make decisions on a whim and I am able to adapt in the moment with ease. So when I got my StrengthsFinder report back and my Adaptability was at number 31 I was surprised. Turns out those close to me where not so surprised...

So where is the dichotomy here? Why do I view myself as adaptable and yet SF (and my family) disagrees. It didn't take much digging to reveal some aspects of my personality that are totally adverse to adaptability. Take food for example. On our last family holiday I planned out our entire weeks dinners, including starters, main courses and deserts to the very last vegetable. Even on the nights I decided I wasn't cooking I had a very clear idea (and instructions) of who would be cooking what on those nights. If I cant get the right ingredient or have to change what I am cooking last minute it doesn't sit well with me. Doesn't sound very adaptable does it? 

And yet I still feel comfortable with some last minute changes, I can still adapt on the fly and change strategy quickly. I like a last minute plan, it energizes me, I enjoy a little bit of chaos and coming up with new ideas quickly. An insight in my Gallup training made me see the reason for this. It was all down to my high Arranger (#5). My high arranger means I am comfortable making changes, and my low adaptability means I don't like change being imposed on me! So I can change the dinner plans last minute, I can decide that today we are working on something else and I can change the training agenda last minute; just don't try doing the same to me! Doesn't sound like an ideal colleague/co-worker/wife! The words control freak come to mind.

I have encountered two people recently who have given me Adaptability envy. One was a person going through huge organizational change, where the rules and expectations changed daily. As all about her were losing their minds, she stayed cool and calm and stress free as she adapted to the new needs of the organization. She used this ability to adapt to help others through the change. A true talent and value to an organisation during times of change. The second is a friend who has had her whole word change in just a few months. Changing country twice and going from stay at home mum to high-powered executive. Taking it all in her stride she has transformed and fitted in well to her new role. These are not the type of people that stress when they can't get the right type of rice for the dinner they had planned!

Despite my low adaptability, I still need to deal with change that is beyond my control and occasionally mitigate my own need to 'arrange' everything. Here is what I have learnt to manage my high Arranger/low Adaptability and advance from raw to mature:

1. When things happen beyond your control, use your arranger to take back control. Recently my well-meaning partner booked us surprise flights to Bali. A lovely gesture and one that made me very uncomfortable. (Partner tip - don't try to surprise a high arranger, they wont appreciate it) After my anxiety had cooled I went into arranger mode. He had booked the flights but nothing else, so I booked all the hotels and took back a sense of control.

2. Find what overrides your low adaptability. I am always calm in the face of change when it comes from a client. I don't mind the last minute changes, the late additions to training or last minute requests. The client relationship is more important to me than my need for control over the plan. Discover what calms you in those moments of chaos, it could be the relationship or business performance or family unity; keep them in mind as you are forced to adapt.

3. High Arranger means you are comfortable with making last minute changes, unless you are working with a highly adaptive team this may make others feel uncomfortable. Consider why you are changing, is it change for changes sake or is there a reason? If there is a good reason then share that with the team. If there is no good reason then maybe rethink the change.