A RECORD OF SELF DEVELOPMENT

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The reasons for including this module, which comes from the Humanities, into our MSc Management programme are to enable us to develop self-awareness, to develop self-confidence and to develop relevant interpersonal management skills in order to be able to be able to perform well at Management level role. Upon successful completion of the module we should hopefully be able to enhance our presentation skills and adapt various creative-thinking strategies.

We read that there are 11 qualities of the Effective Manager that form the basis for the self-development programme provided in this book:

Command of basic facts

Relevant Professional Knowledge

Continuing sensitivity to events

Analytical, problem-solving and decision/judgement-making skills

Social skills and abilities

Emotional Resilience

Proactivity

Creativity

Mental agility

Balanced learning habits and skills

Self-knowledge

Pedler at al, A manager's guide to self development: Chapter 4 ('The Qualities of Successful Managers'). McGraw Hill. 2007.

In my personal opinion the most important skills and qualities for a successful manager are:

Body language: According to me it is extremely important for a successful manager to maintain positive body language at all times. Staff would not want to be around someone who is always down in the dumps.

Be appreciative: It is important for a manager to appreciate the work of their colleagues.

Pay attention to others: It is important for successful managers to observe little things around them and understand what goes on in other people's lives.

Practise active listening: It is important to actively listen in order to ensure and demonstrate to the other person that you intend to hear and understand their point of view.

Bring people together: A good manager should always create a positive atmosphere around colleagues and treat everyone equally that will encourage others to work together.

Resolve conflicts: One should always look to resolve conflicts as and when they arise besides bringing people together.

Communicate clearly: It is important to pay close attention to what a manager says and how they say it.

Humour them: A successful manager should try to make others laugh and this helps them to get attract they colleagues and make them look approachable.

Don't complain: A good manager should avoid becoming a chronic complainer or whiner as it makes them lose their respect in the eyes of their colleagues.

DEVELOPING THE SELF

DEVELOPMENT RECORD 2

In today's class we discussed the differences in verbal communication across various cultures. We were given a task to write down the immediate meanings and thoughts that would come to our minds relating to the two words provided namely "Marriage" and "Family". We also completed an exercise which covered cross-cultural body language, identifying various hand signals / gestures. It was very interesting to notice how similar hand signals differed in their respective meanings across different cultures.

It was noticed that fellow students from other cultural backgrounds had different views on a broader level. Whilst some of us had common thoughts as well e.g. many of us had thought of love and long term commitment when asked to think about "Marriage" whereas some of us had gone further to think about expenditure, children etc. Similarly we also noticed several differences in the way people from different cultural backgrounds think when it comes to "Family". Some of us with low individuality score were thinking of fun, sharing, extended family etc. whilst others had things like privacy on their minds.

As I was born in the Middle East, but to Indian parents and then moved to the UK 9 years ago and being married to a Pakistani citizen, I have always come across and had to deal with verbal cultural differences. To mention a few examples: There is significant difference in the tone of a polite conversation when comparing India to Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, in the Indian culture it accepted to refer friends with less respect where as in the Saudi culture it has found to be the opposite.

Based on this exercise I have learnt that the meanings and ideology surrounding a particular thought or word can differ vastly between cultures, and I have learnt to be considerate in this regard and to be careful in the choice of words we use when interacting with people from other cultures. It is very important to do so and to adapt or at-least consider the communication techniques in the culture of the person I interact with in order to ensure that I do not offend them in any way. I also plan to learn about a few cultures, at-least those from which backgrounds my friends and colleagues come from in order to be able to interact with them without offending them in any possible way.

DEVELOPING THE SELF

DEVELOPMENT RECORD 3

e) During today's task of prioritising a list of 15 items in the group activity "Adventure in the Amazon" it was noted that most responses from all group members within my group varied a lot. It was surprising to note how each one of us understood and interpreted the situation we were given in the task. After much debate and discussion we as a group were able to agree to a final list of priority. Although there was a lot of discussion around each item I realised that at certain times people had decided to give in to avoid prolonged conflict.

I have personally contributed to the team by being a good listener, looking for solutions and weighing up options, working out priorities, keeping the discussion on track, being persistent, encourage team members and helping to resolve conflicts.

As probably the most experienced member of my group, I have acted on a few occasions as if I was the team leader due to which I now realise that I take too much of discussion space whilst discussing the exercise and should have maybe allowed my fellow students to speak more. I also got a bit emotional when I was finding it difficult to reach to consensus and felt I was right compared to other team members. A good example is when we were discussing the importance of mosquito netting, I was very adamant that this should be very low on the priority list whilst another member of our group was confident of it being high on the list.

f) In the future will surely take a more relaxed approach and not pretend to be a self-appointed team leader which will allow more healthy interaction between the team members allowing better results achieved by reaching consensus. I will also allow others to support their arguments and be more considerate in listening to their reasoning.

Some specific action points as follows:

Be more considerate

Allow others to speak and support their arguments

Be less emotional when rejected by team members

DEVELOPING THE SELF

DEVELOPMENT RECORD 4

Although I would ideally want to set my priorities according to my most important values, I realise many a times I am unsuccessful in doing so.

For example, when I have an important project at work, but I can't seem to get to it, because I am spending time answering the phone, responding to e-mails, and helping my co-workers who come to me for assistance and I tend to divert my attention and time to help them rather than blocking out time on my calendar for my project. I fail to make an appointment with myself; and treat it like a meeting. I do not forward my phone to voicemail, so I can focus on my important project.

Another example is when I say my spouse is important, but I am more like two ships passing through the night and end up not spending enough time with my wife. Spending time together as a family is important to me, but elusive. My afternoons and evenings are usually spent in trying to catch up with the work backlog and I can't even remember the last time the whole family had dinner together. As spending time together as a family is important, I should schedule family time each week. Perhaps a Sunday night should be family night or plan a fun activity each week - such as playing a game, watching a movie, going out to dinner, or going out for ice cream.

The three areas I would like to improve in myself in respect of time management are as follows:

I should learn to say "No" when I lack time

I should learn to realise when I have worked enough on something rather than aiming for perfection.

I need to improve on planning my activities in a logical order.

Strategies I would use:

I will try to make lists and write down as much as I can. I will try to make use of "dead" times for planning purposes such as driving, walking, driving, showering etc. I will also try and reward myself. Whenever I accomplish something, especially the important things which mean a lot to me I will make sure to try to reward myself.

I will try to concentrate on one thing at any one point in time which will help my mind in working more efficiently.

Furthermore I will set personal deadlines. Whilst I realise that deadlines cause stress, aggravation, and worry, but in order to ensure I meet the ultimate deadlines I will try to personally set individual deadlines in advance of the final deadline and stick to them.

I will also try to avoid taking on board more than what I can handle and instead will try to share the work by delegating responsibilities to others where I can.

DEVELOPING THE SELF

DEVELOPMENT RECORD 5

In today's lecture we were taught Verbal communication skills in which we discussed various listening habits. Having completed the self-assessment exercise and the class discussion I have identified that I have some listening deficiencies.

The deficiencies I have identified that I would like to improve the most are, firstly I listen for specific facts rather than for the big picture, secondly whilst listening I often think about what I am going to say as soon as I have my chance and lastly I almost every time try to have the last word in a conversation. By improving on the above mentioned identified deficiencies I will be able to listen to the people I interact with, with full attention, which will show that I am giving respect to the other person. By giving the person respect, I will be able to gain his respect and love. The other person in-turn will listen carefully to what I have got to say. Furthermore by improving the listening skills it will help me in knowing more about the person I am talking to which can be helpful in my professional life as well as personal life. (e.g. I will be able to benefit a lot if I can know and understand my boss, colleagues, customers, spouse, friends, neighbours etc. better in maintaining the relations respectively). By knowing more about the other person and listening to the full picture rather than specific facts it will increase my chances of making friends with the other person and endear myself in their eyes. I could potentially improve my relationships with people by being a good and sympathetic listener to their concerns and problems rather than concentrating on what I am going to say as soon as I have my chance. By avoiding to have the last word in any conversation it will help me build the trust and respect I hope to with a person. Improving these skills help in improving conversation skills, and will help me avoid many confusions, misunderstandings and conflicts if only I develop the willingness to lend more attentive ears to the speaker.

In my attempt to improve on the above mentioned listening deficiencies, I plan to read a few books namely, "Effective Learning Skills" by James A. & Kratz D. , "Listening: A self-teaching guide" by Burley-Allen M. during weekends and bank holidays. To be able to do this I will need to purchase these books which are currently being sold for £ 6.29 and £ 9.09 respectively. I will need to allow at-least 4 hours of reading on the weekends and hope to have read the books and understood them in 6 weeks. I would measure my success for this task by ensuring completion of at-least one of the two books by the end of the fourth weekend.

I would also like to watch the "Developing Positive Listening Skills" DVD in the evenings during the week. I will be able to borrow this from a friend and there will not be any costs involved in this, however I will be required to spend an hour every day during the week. I will be able to monitor my success by checking if I have completed watching the five hour video by the end of the first week.

Lastly, I would like to enrol myself on a training course at SWAT UK named "Improve your listening skills". The training comes at a cost of £299.00 and will last one full day. I will need to book a day off from work on the next available date and book my train tickets to London. The success for this task will be monitored by receiving a certificate of attendance and completion of the training course.

DEVELOPING THE SELF

DEVELOPMENT RECORD 6

In this part of my development record, I would like to focus on the nonviolent communication approach and apply the key factors of successful / face to face communication to a conflict or difficult situation from my own life.

"While NVC is much more than a communication model, the components below provide a structural concept of the process that leads to giving and receiving from the heart.

Honestly Expressing: how I am and what I would like without using blame, criticism or demands.

Empathically Receiving: how another is and what he/she would like without hearing blame, criticism or demands

Whether expressing or receiving, NVC focuses our attention on four pieces of information:

Observations-objectively describing what is going on without using evaluation, moralistic judgment, interpretation or diagnosis

Feelings- saying how you feel (emotions and body sensations) about what you have observed without assigning blame

Needs-the basic human needs that are or not being met and are the source of feelings

Requests-Clear request for actions that can meet needs"

Marshal, B., R. (2009).The Basics of Non-Violent Communication. Puddle Dancer Press. Retrieved last on 15th April 2011 from http://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/aboutnvc/aboutnvc.htm

In this task I would like to use a real life complex situation that I had to face during my job with my previous employer. I was working for a software company in the IT industry in the role of a Business Development Manager where I was responsible for a team of 5 members of staff involved with the sales and marketing activities related to the business. During my time in this role I was reporting to the Managing Director of the company who unfortunately did not have any previous sales and marketing experience and on the other hand my team comprised of some senior and experienced staff and also some fresh talent with very little experience. I found it very difficult to manage the group with the vast differences they all showed in their working styles based on their qualifications, approach and experience and on the other hand it was extremely difficult to report to a director who had very little experience in the sales and marketing arena.

By applying the NVC approach in this particular difficult issue I faced, it would help me build professional and business relationships and to lead my team more effectively. NVC would help me as a leader to let go of "power-over" leadership style, such as the coercive use of threats of punishment or promises of reward that I made to my team which can lead to resistance and often stifle individual creativity and potential. The NVC approach to leadership would enhance personal power, strengthens teamwork and maximizes individual potential. It would also help me provide staff with more empowering, meaningful evaluations that move beyond moralistic judgments of good/bad or right/wrong which I often ended up doing. Instead, the NVC approach would help me identify specific behaviours that are or are not meeting needs that present clear requests and create specific agreements for future actions. Furthermore with the help of NVC I could get to the heart of workplace conflict quickly and mediate conflict more quickly by ensuring each person or party is really heard. It would facilitate the communication of specific observations, the expression

of feelings and the unmet needs that have triggered the numerous conflicts in the given situation. With the application of the NVC approach it would also improve employee morale by learning how to effectively acknowledge, value the needs of the entire workforce and help ensure staff or colleagues are heard often for the first time.

Besides the above NVC would help me reduce conflict both from my team and my line manager by developing my emotional vocabulary and improving my ability to clearly express my feelings and needs. The expanded

emotional vocabulary will help me avoid making moralistic judgments, blaming others for my feelings, and using other strategies that often contribute to conflicts. NVC would help in staying connected to my feelings and needs which would help in preventing and reducing conflicts by learning to stay connected to my feelings and needs through self-empathy. It helps increase satisfying outcomes from emotionally charged situations by entering them

from a place of calm and compassion, rather than defensiveness or anger that I showed. NVC would further help in breaking negative habitual patterns that often lead to conflict and instead transform thinking patterns like moralistic judgments, blame, criticism, should's and "have-to's" that can lead to anger, depression, guilt or shame. NVC teaches us that all behaviour (even behaviour we dislike) is a strategy to meet one of the many needs we all have in common. It helps diminish anger, violence and conflict by connecting to the needs behind whatever anyone does or says. Finally NVC would be a great approach in this problematic issue to get to the heart of the conflict quickly to be able to defuse heated situations before they lead to obscene behaviour which I have had to regret a few times already. It would help me use empathy to let others know they are really heard which I realise is often all that is needed to transform conflict into powerful connection.

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