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At my previous work place I had to deal with new comers, to teach them new skills. When I saw them looking unconfident and frightened about the tasks in hand they were going to tackle, I tried to encourage them and boost their confidence by saying "It's just at the beginning that it's seems so complicated and undoable, but very soon you will get the hang of it. It was new for me as well when I first came here but now I am an expert in it".
I mark myself with a critical 4, because, however good I am, there are always ways to improve.
Try to help others reduce the stress caused by uncertainty about how to do things and deal with challenging assignments. Be a source of comfort when newer, less experienced people just need to let off steam or discuss career dilemmas.
At the same work place, as I was one of the oldest staff, it happened to me that I had to coach the existing staff. Coaching consists of refreshing the skills that they might already possess but forget by the time because of not using them. So, I used to discuss on meeting or one-to-one conversation about the ways to improve performance and make myself available for any further assistance, as well as serve as a role example for encouragement and motivation.
I mark myself 4 for the same reason as above.
1. Finding ways to improve performance: help others improve by observing what they do, asking questions, listening, and working out unique improvement strategies.
2. Influencing others to change their behaviour:
- Monitor people's progress and development, and recognise and reward even small improvements.
- Involve others in decision-making process to make them responsive to change.
- Be a role model for the qualities that I expect from others, such as openness, commitment, and responsibility.
3. Creating a supportive climate: using active listening, empowering others to implement appropriate ideas, and being available for assistance, guidance, and advice.
It is not an easy task to be a good leader. This is the area I have to improve in. This is why I took a challenge to lead a team for our assignment for Corporate Culture unit. I managed to set the goal and give a clear direction as to how to proceed. I also set realistic deadlines to complete tasks. Everyone in my group understood and approved my strategy.
The next step is to monitor progress. I constantly keep in touch with the members of my team asking them how they are coping with the task and offering my help or advise at any time they need.
Although it is a leadership on a small scale, it will help to reveal my leadership skills and the outcome will prove it.
I give myself 2 points because this is a new area for me that I want to excel in.
Develop effective leadership skills, such as:
1. Knowing myself/values (What do I believe? Do I see myself as competent or incompetent? Worthy or unworthy? Do I see myself as having vision? Passion? Do I see myself as able or unable to create the results I want in life?);
2. Having vision (What do I want? Where am I heading? What would I like to achieve?).
3. Passion (What do I love to do? What do I feel strongly about deep within? What moves or inspires me?).
4. Effective communication (be direct; connect with people - Emotional Intelligence; active listening; ensure people understand my message; encourage people; give feedback; be honest and trustworthy).
5. Good decision maker and risk taking (stick to the values, principles, integrity; take personal responsibility; trust my gut/intuition; make decisions and take action).
6. Lead by example (being passionate, committed and consistent).
7. Check the progress and results (look what is working and what is not; if something is not working, take action to correct it).
Continuing self development; learning new skills and knowledge.
I like challenges and always seek for ways to improve myself whether on personal or professional level. I give myself 5 points in this area because self development is the part of my daily routine and the meaning of my life. I never stand still and always look for new opportunities. I like giving a try to new things no matter whether I will succeed or not, just to help myself to identify my capabilities, strengths and weaknesses.
1. Get myself motivated: why do I want it?
2. Identify areas for self development and set clear targets: which skills do I want to improve or learn?
3. Decide on how I want to achieve them: what actions do I have to take, i.e. reading books, taking a training course, etc?
4. Set a time frame to achieve targets and stick to it.
5. Follow the improvement or change (by keeping a diary and comparing the results with what it was before).
Leading and chairing meetings
My personal traits such as well organised, orderly, responsible, task oriented, focused, methodical, considerate, make me quite successful in this area. I score myself 5 because I feel confident about my skills in leading and chairing meetings.
At my previous work place, when we were to have a meeting, I used to take time to put down all points of concern that had to be discussed; I used consult others to see what problems they were having that needed a solution. I used to make a plan for a meeting and number the issues in order of importance and appoint people who would talk on certain issues to raise everyone's concerns and make them involved.
1. Decide the objective or objectives before holding the meeting. What exactly do I want to achieve at the conclusion?
2. Prepare an agenda. This makes the meeting easier to control and gives everyone involved the chance to participate, because they will see in advance what is to be discussed and can prepare themselves accordingly.
3. Consult those who are attending on what they would like to see included in the agenda. This prevents meetings over-running, and enables participants to raise the topics that deeply concern them.
4. Decide on a finish time as well as a start time and put it in agenda. It helps the chairperson to control the meeting.
5. When chairing a meeting, always try to be positive, look for agreement points, ask silent people for their views.
6. Keep people on the subject by restating the objective, do not allow waffle.
7. In briefing, give the background and history of the topic under discussion, and the reason for discussing it now.
Continuing self development: developing for current and future job roles
Self development is one of my priorities. I always try to improve myself in work environment. I constantly work on my personal traits, I analyse them as to how they affect my professionalism. I try to understand what skills and personal characteristics are needed for my job role. To improve myself in my current job, I try to watch objectively my behaviour, my attitude; I analyse, think, try to find out if they fit and contribute to my job role. If not, I look for ways to improve by analysing the environment or learning from more experienced staff.
I score myself 5. Regardless the results, this is the active area of my constant improvement.
1. Set clear objectives as to what skills I have to learn for my current or future job roles
2. Get myself motivated: why do I want to achieve them?
3. Create a right environment for improvement and learning new skills and knowledge: training courses, reading books, experience in real work environment.
4. Consult and seek for advice or help from more experienced skilled people.
5. Monitor progress.
Delivering effective presentations
I don't have a great experience in making presentations. However, the last time I made a presentation on a seminar of Corporate Culture. I studied well the subject, I collected relevant data. I tried to think from the point of view of a listener, what would they like to hear? What information would attract their attention? What is the best way to deliver it? So, I excluded all superfluous information and tried to make my speech very concise so that the audience don't feel bored. I was quite confident and relaxed when delivering my speech, however, now I realise that I was more focused on delivering a perfect speech sometimes forgetting that I had life audience in front of me. I should have been more enthusiastic and make them involved and interact. This is why I score myself 4.
Learn to build confidence and deal with nervous tension:
1. Plan (collect ideas, prepare a file).
2. Prepare (before writing the talk, decide my aims, what reaction I want my speech to have, i.e. accept my message unanimously, enthusiasm from the audience, or just understanding my message; write a well constructed speech with an opening, a message and a close; prepare the notes, use highlighting and asterisks, underline main themes or use different colours to remind of the detail or the theme).
3. Practice (do not read line by line, use pauses, give emphasis on words of importance, maintain eye contact with audience).
4. Know the topic inside out and deliver it with passion.
Learn to hold the attention of the audience by:
1. Developing natural enthusiasm.
2. Using visual aids such as flip-charts, slide or video projector, or PowerPoint.
3. Developing a positive attitude (dressing smartly; positive thoughts; confidence in myself).
4. Casting an eye over the audience with a gentle smile.
5. Being aware of my body language (posture, hand movements, pacing).
6. Keeping to time.
(B) Personal Skills
5 = Strong 1= Weak
Best current example
Ways to improve
Time Management : Using time effectively
In whatever I do I am always well organised. I like writing down everything and making lists. A always have a to do list and stick it on the wall in front of me as a reminder and tick once I've completed a task. I set myself a target as to when I want to complete a task and try to achieve it. I feel like I have the right technique for using time effectively, however, the main obstacle is the procrastination. This is why I give myself 4 points.
1. Use different planning tools such as:
- Time management diary, daily, weekly, monthly management planner.
- To do list.
- Electronic organiser.
2. Reduce paperwork.
3. Set deadlines.
Time Management : Prioritising work tasks
When it comes to time management, theoretically I manage it quite well. I make a list of what to do; number the tasks in order of importance; allocate time to complete each task and have it visually as a list in front of me and bear it my mind. I start by doing simple tasks first, that take less time and energy, to free my mind of anything else and concentrate after that on a major and more important tasks.
1. Decide what my goals and objectives are.
2. Number my lists in order of importance.
3. Do things that contribute most to achieve these objectives.
SMART Objective Setting
When I look in retrospective at what my goals were and at what I have achieved in my life so far, I realise that soon or later I get what I want. I set a target and my determination helps me to achieve it. I never give up half way, take difficulties as a challenge and do what is needed to overcome them. The most recent example can be my decision to do PGDMS, despite my linguistic background. It was a big challenge and the first result speaks by itself: I've passed my first assignment among other 10 students out of 28 in our group.
However, again I score myself with a critical 4 to motivate myself for further improvement.
Set objectives which will be
Specific - so I know exactly what I need to do;
Measurable - so I know when I have achieved it;
Achievable - so I have all resources to achieve it;
Realistic - so I know that I am able to achieve it within the boundaries of my work schedule, my abilities and my other commitments;
Time bound - so I have an idea about approximate time to review my progress or the final result.
Time Management: Motivation
Despite my determination to achieve my objectives, sometimes I find myself procrastinating and delaying completing the task by doing trivial things, such as checking my emails, or writing a message which has no urgency being written at that particular time, or even worse, eating even when I am not hungry. This fortunately doesn't happen all the time. However frequent it is, it affects the accomplishment of tasks in due times and causes stress and tension.
As I know the right techniques to avoid procrastination but unfortunately do not follow them regularly, I estimate myself mediocre giving the mark 3.
Learn few techniques to avoid procrastination:
1. Learn how to say "no" to anything that will postpone reaching the objective.
2. Allocate time for completing tasks: start on time and finish on time.
3. Divide - tackle the job in small steps.
4. Prioritise tasks to be done.
5. Start now.
Dealing with interruptions
I have few techniques to deal with interruptions when I really want to concentrate on doing a task. Switching off my mobile and isolating myself from any contact from outside helps me a lot. If my chatty roommate is at home and I have a task to complete, I do not feel uncomfortable to say that I have got only 5 minutes to talk or that we would talk once I have completed my work.
I know well how to deal with interruptions and focus on my tasks, this is why I estimate myself 5 out of 5.
Have a strategy for dealing with interruptions such as telephone calls or visitors.
1. Use answer machine or ask someone to answer the phone when I am busy.
2. Go and work somewhere where I won't be interrupted by other people; or, ask my family members do not disturb me and close my door.
Planning & Organising Skills
As I am able to successfully prioritise tasks, I consider myself as a good planner. I keep a diary and write down any details that contribute to the completion of the task. I set maximum targets and try to achieve them as much as I can. I am disciplined, thorough and well organised. All my things are always in order and I know exactly where I put them. I confidently score myself 5 out of 5 in organising skills.
1. Use the diary.
2. Draw a spider diagram:
Main Goal (What do I want to achieve?) ƒŸ Steps to achieve the objective (What do I have to do in order to get it?)
3. Think about resources that will be implicated in achievement of my goals.
4. Write down any ideas that contribute to the achievement of my objectives.
5. Stick to the timeframes.
This is my vulnerable point. My nature is a Reflector. I take a lot of time to think, analyse, weigh up things and come to a final decision. Sometimes thinking too much makes me confused and I would rather prefer to rely on my intuition and make a spontaneous decision. I am not a risk taker. So it makes me lose some opportunities. This is the area that I would like to improve. I give myself 3 points.
There are few steps that help to tackle problems.
1. Identifying. Being conscious of what is going on around me, so I can spot problems early.
2. Defining. Making a careful analysis of the problem to be solved, in order to define it as clearly as possible?
3. Making the decision. Evaluating the alternatives and choosing a course of action that will improve the situation in a significant way.
4. Implementing. Setting my action plan in motion, by creating a schedule and assigning tasks and responsibilities.
5. Following through. Monitoring progress, to ensure that the desired outcome is achieved.
My last work was quite stressful. Thanks to my patience and reserved nature I was the one to keep cool and not to lose the control of the situation. Although it's not easy, I am able to accept things beyond my control. It is the result of the constant work on myself and reassurance that the things can improve any time. However it happens, I am very stressed when I don't meet the deadlines. For example, for submission of my assignment, am running out of time because of the procrastination, or simply not having had enough time to complete the task. I feel very stressed and tense. I need to learn how to prevent this stress. This is why I give myself 4 points to improve this area.
1. Identify sources of stress (look closely at my habits, attitude: accept responsibility for the role I play in creating or maintaining stress with my habits or attitude).
2. Keep a stress journal to identify the regular stressors and the way I deal with them.
Develop stress management strategies:
1. Avoid unnecessary stress (learn how to say ''no''; avoid people who stress me out);
2. Alter the situation (express feeling instead of keeping them unvoiced; be willing to compromise; manage my time better);
3. Adapt to the stressor (view stressful situation from a more positive perspective; set reasonable standards for myself, stop being a perfectionist);
4. Accept the things I can't change (do not try to control uncontrollable; look at a major challenge as an opportunity for personal growth);
5. Make time for fun and relaxation (listen to music, go for a walk, etc.);
6. Adopt a healthy lifestyle (exercise regularly; eat a healthy diet; get enough sleep).
At my last work place we worked in team. I learned that it requires special skills to be able to work together with other people. I learned how to respect others, how to compromise. I learned that communication plays a key role in team working. I believe I am a good team player, however I want to improve, this is why my score is 4.
1. Understand what makes team effective and what can lead to a failure.
2. To be able to plan (setting SMART goals).
3. Design the work for the team (in terms of five core job dimensions: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback).
3. Delegate tasks effectively
- clarify the assignment (explain what is being delegated, the results I expect and the timeframe);
- set boundaries (ensure that the delegatees understand precisely what the parameters are of the authority that I am bestowing on them);
- encourage participation (involve delegates in decisions about what is delegated, how much authority is needed, and standards to be attained);
- inform others (let everyone who may be affected know what has been delegated to whom and how much authority has been granted);
- establish controls (agree on specific time for completion of the task, and set dates when progress will be checked and problems discussed);
- encourage development (insist that delegates bring possible solutions to a problem).
4. Monitor progress (check lists; feedback; meetings; reports).
5. Motivate my team to excel (understand needs, what drives my team to do the best that they can: Maslow's hierarchy of needs).
I am absolutely aware of the role of the technology nowadays. Although I am not too keen on latest gadgets, I am quite confident about my knowledge of basic things that are useful in my everyday life, such as computer and Internet. If it happens to me to have to learn a new technology skill, am sure I will pick it up very quickly. This is the reason for my score in this area - 5.
1. Keep updated with the latest technology.
2. Read newspaper and magazines.
3. Be information and computer literate.
4. Understand the role of science and technology in society.
Effective communication: Active listening
The previous test on learning styles revealed that my dominant styles are reflector and theorist. Typical characteristic of both is that they do more listening rather than talking. Thus, I like listening to other people, I pay attention to what they say, try to understand. However, I can get destructed depending on to which extend the topic is interesting for me, or depending on the abilities of speaker to deliver an effective speech. On the other hand, I am not confident about my ability to read non-verbal signals. Sometimes it can happen that the speaker says something but his body language proves the opposite. I can just pay attention to what he/she says and miss messages conveyed by his/her behaviour. So this is the area to improve, and my score is 4.
Make sense of what I hear by:
1. Understanding the basics
- keeping an open mind, free from preconceived ideas;
- giving the speaker my full attention while they are talking;
- assessing the full meaning behind the words that are being spoken;
- asking questions when I need more information;
- withholding judgement until the speaker has finished talking.
2. Employing the techniques:
- make eye contact (this focuses my attention and encourages the speaker);
- show interest (use non verbal signals, such as head nods, to convey to the speaker that am listening);
- avoid distracting actions (looking at the watch, or shuffling papers);
- paraphrase (restate what the speaker has said in my own words);
- do not interrupt (let the speaker complete his thoughts before I try to respond).
Effective communication: Questioning
Questioning has never been an issue for me. I don't feel shy to ask question if something is not clear and it doesn't undermine my confidence. On the contrary, it shows to the speaker that I am interested in the subject and able to reflect and respond. My score is 5 out of 5.
Asking questions helps to clarify if I don't understand something. This also will reassure the speaker that I am listening to them. Questioning contributes to an effective bilateral communication.