Adaptability is showing openness to change and altering behaviours in order to work effectively when faced with new information, a changing situation or environment .  

Core Motivation: To be flexible in response to various circumstances.

It's about:

It is important to note that this competency focuses on your behaviours that are observable by others, rather than on your inner thoughts and attitudes.

Adaptability - What it means and does not mean
Adaptability means... Adaptability does not mean...
  • Showing you are open to different ideas and perspectives
  • Making an effort to work effectively with others even though their preferred way of working is different from yours
  • Accepting that others may do things differently than you would
  • Showing flexibility when applying guidelines or procedures to get the job done and meet organizational objectives
  • Recognizing that certain situations require different approaches and reacting appropriately
  • Adjusting priorities and plans in response to changing circumstances
  • Enthusiastically adopting new systems or procedures
  • Acting as if your opinion is the only correct one
  • Avoiding working with people who don't do things your way
  • Expecting others to do things your way
  • Rigorously adhering to guidelines or procedures when it is not necessary
  • Always taking the same approach regardless of the situation
  • Sticking to your original work plan regardless of changing circumstances
  • Wanting to do things the way you have always done them

Purpose of this competency for CRA

Adaptability encourages employees to be objective and receptive to new or different situations, ideas or problems in the work environment. The ability to change behaviours is important to effectively achieve Agency goals and objectives.

Progression of scale - Magnitude of the change and degree of behavioural flexibility

The Progression of the scale works together with the underlying notions, so it is important to consider this information as it indicates how the behaviours progress as you move from level 1 to level 4. The behaviours generally build on each other.

Adaptability - Progression of scale
  Lower levels Higher levels

Magnitude of the Change

Refers to the extent of the change and its impact on you.

Change tends to be smaller and has a narrower impact such as introducing a new form or procedure.

Change tends to be larger and has greater impacts such as a major initiative, program change or role change.

Degree of Behavioural Flexibility

Refers to how much openness to change you show or how much your behaviour has changed. It is demonstrated through your actions, reactions and stated opinions when encountering change.

There is a small change in your openness or behaviour to adapt to a certain situation.

There is a significant change in your behaviour to adapt to a broader situation.
Adaptability level 1
Underlying Notion Behaviours could include, but are not limited to:

Recognizing change and responding appropriately

  • Shows respect for and openness to different opinions or ideas.
  • Obtains necessary information or clarification in order to understand the change.
  • Goes along with the change.

In other words, you may:

At this level, the magnitude of the change is small with little impact on you. Therefore, it requires a low degree of behavioural flexibility from you.


A new ticket service system was introduced in the Human Resources Branch. Although the employee would have preferred to send an email to the specific HR Officer with whom she used to deal with in the past, she submitted her question through the HR Service Centre System. She understood that the technology was playing a bigger role in day-to-day operations today.

Adaptability level 2
Underlying Notion Behaviours could include, but are not limited to:

Adjusting your approach to the situation

  • Demonstrates positivity and changes behaviour to meet the needs of a new or different situation.
  • Gathers more information, uses a new skill, or applies knowledge in a different way to facilitate adaptation.
  • Displays flexibility to meet the needs of the situation while still adhering to organizational values.

In other words, you may:

At this level, the magnitude of the change is notable with a direct impact on you, which requires a greater degree of behavioural flexibility from you. You show you are open to change and you change your behaviour to adjust effectively to the new or changing situation. Although you might need to digest and consider the change using an inner thought process, the most important aspects are the positive behaviours you display to others. To clearly demonstrate how you adjusted your approach to a situation, explain exactly what you would usually do, what you did differently in this case and how you adapted your behaviour because of the specific situation you were faced with.


An employee was accustomed to performing his duties in a particular manner. There was a change in the membership of the team, and the new team member introduced a more efficient process to complete the work, which was accepted by the team leader.

The employee approached the change with an open mind. He asked questions and tried it out to make sure he understood the new process. He then implemented the change in how he processed the work, and checked with his resource officer to ensure he was doing it correctly.

Adaptability level 3
Underlying Notion Behaviours could include, but are not limited to:

Supporting new ways of working

  • Welcomes and shows full support for the change to work methods.
  • Prepares for change by examining one’s point of view, acquiring knowledge, and developing new work methods.
  • Accommodates the change by adapting plans, policies, processes, or systems.

In other words, you may:

At this level, the magnitude of the change and the impact on you are considerable which requires a significant degree of behavioural flexibility on your part to support this type of change.


An employee was working at a Tax Centre and she was aware that there was a national strategy for realignment of tax centres. On her own initiative, she prepared herself by visiting the websites for the various business lines and other tax centres to familiarize herself with what might be coming, and asked her manager questions.

When the new workloads were introduced, the employee welcomed the change and she enthusiastically initiated and participated in activities related to setting up the processes for the new workload to which she was assigned. She learned as much about the new workload as she could. She took responsibility for changing her behaviour as required by the new workload, and adjusted from doing most of her work independently on her own to working cooperatively in a team environment.

Adaptability level 4
Underlying Notion Behaviours could include, but are not limited to:

Facilitating major organizational change

  • Serves as a model on how to adapt and perform effectively in a continuously changing environment.
  • Recommends an implementation strategy for a major organizational change to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Suggests strategies to effectively manage and integrate change processes into the organization’s established ways of operating.
  • Effectively shifts priorities and modifies strategies to respond to emerging trends, opportunities, or risks.

In other words, you may:

At this level, the magnitude of the change is major with an impact not only on you but on the organization. Therefore, it requires a very high degree of behavioural flexibility on your part given the scope of such change.


An employee of the Human Resources Branch considered the various perspectives that had been provided by CRA employees in response to Blueprint 2020 initiatives. The employees were requesting major changes to be made to the Human Resources program for which his section was responsible. The employee reviewed his program’s priorities, plans and long term strategies in light of the employees’ comments. He made strategic recommendations to his manager and director as to how the major changes could be introduced across the organization, and how to best support the organization to ensure ongoing effectiveness during the change.

Many discussions and team meetings followed where his recommendations were reviewed and built on further. The employee’s manager and director decided to implement a number of his suggestions to support and facilitate major changes.

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