Professional Development Strategic Managers In The Smartest Companies Education Essay

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Personal and professional skills are challenging calls to action faced by decision-makers in today's smartest companies. The skills of the employees determine the quality of the customer service and level of customer retention. Now, companies are seeking out new ways to improve vital professional skills by making continuous skills improvement a priority and to achieve strategic goals.

PART A

1. TASK 1

Personal skills required to achieve strategic goals

Personal skills are essential to ensure that organisation structures and the workforce are aligned to support and achieve the agency's mission and strategic goals.

The skills include: time management, setting objectives, prioritising work tasks, effective delegation of tasks and monitoring, procrastination, comfort zones, dealing with interruptions to planned work, planning aids, stress management (recognising stress, dealing with stress), and problem solving.

Time management

Time management can be seen as ″self-management″, the skill of making smart decisions about how to allocate time in order to accomplish set goals. Without good time management skills managers can easily fall behind in responsibilities and feel like they never has enough time. It is a very necessary and helpful practice in the busy lives of an individual.

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Good time management helps managers to cope better with difficult decisions, meet deadlines, and leave time for the unexpected. The most successful leaders are those who are very good at managing time.

One effective way to make time for all the work and activities is to create a weekly activity planner. Thus, it gives a chance to decide how to spend a valuable resource, allows getting the most of the least, helps to organize and learn how to spend the time. Having planned everything managers can follow a schedule that can adapt to changes and therefore use the time to get the important things done.

However, time spent should be analyzed in order to prevent wasted time on things which need less time. This can be done by identifying:

the amount of working time that have been available to the managers each week,

the number and type of job-related activities that they need to undertake each week

the amount of time that they spend on each activity

Time used effectively gradually improves an individual lives.

Setting objectives

Managers should set objectives by planning their time in a realistic way to obtain maximum benefit. These include specifying what goals they want to achieve, visualize the end results, break large goals into weekly and daily priorities and detail the steps to completion.

Prioritising Work Tasks

How managers prioritise tasks will enable them to keep up to date with all the demands placed on them by ensuring that urgent tasks are handled first. However, lower priority task can suddenly become imminent. Any such sudden change indicates poor time management. Priorities allocated to any tasks should be subject to constant review and update.

Effective delegation and monitoring

Effective delegation enables managers to concentrate on managing, that is in making sure that the resources are in place at the right time so that the job can be completed, to keep themselves abreast of developments generally, and to devote time to updating their own particular tasks. However, it must be accompanied by the requisite authority to act and to delegate.

Procrastination

The larger, more involved, the project, the more difficult is to plan effectively to carry out. Therefore, it exposes intentional reasons for avoiding work and a temptation to delay the task. Managers should work to acquire an adequate understanding of what is necessary to accomplish a task within a given time frame and also to spend at least some time each day on it.

Comfort Zones

A comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety -neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk. There are so many unpredictable variations in job time that it is useful to build some comfort zones into planning.

Interruptions to planned work

All organisations, large or small, are exposed to unforeseen incidents. It can be people or things that will interrupt a business. Managers should identify all business interruptions risks and define a tactical and strategic plan to mitigate the risks through proactive management and consider how to recover the situation as quickly as possible.

Planning aids

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Managers should plan their time effectively to gain more control over their daily activities. Few techniques may be considered.

They are as follows:

map out activities a week in advance

spend five minutes each morning reviewing your time, and re-adjust your plan as circumstances change

build slack time into your schedule so that you do not constantly overrun

have a back-up plan for contingency situations - decide which tasks can be dropped, who can be called on to help out, and who will need to be notified if you are consequently delayed with other activities

plan time for relaxation and recreation as well as work.

Stress management and problem solving

Workers who are stressed are more likely to be unhealthy, poorly motivated, less productive and les safe at work. Their organisations are less likely to be successful in a competitive market. Stress at work can be a real problem to the organisation as well as for its workers. Good management and good work organisation and take steps to problem solving are the best form of stress prevention. It is important that a workplace is being continuously monitored for stress problems.

1.2 Suitable techniques to assess the professional skills required to support the strategic direction of OBS

Orange Business Services (OBS) represents business communications solutions and services provided by the France Telecom Group. These services include converged voice, data and mobile services as well as IT expertise and managed services, all designed to transform business processes and improve productivity. Orange Business Services is present in 166 countries and territories and serves customers in 220 countries and territories.

OBS has evolved dramatically in recent years to become a leading example of a deeply customer centric organization by using professional skills such as counselling, mentoring and coaching to support their values and goals.

'Counselling' is a process, organized in a series of steps, which aims to help people cope (deal with or adapt to) better with situations they are facing. This involves helping the individual to understand their emotions and feelings and to help them make positive choices and decisions. At OBS it is an approach for assisting people to reduce initial distress resulting from a difficult situation, and to encourage short and long-term adaptive functioning (positive coping).

There are two approaches:

Directive counselling involves taking the initiative and actually suggesting solutions

Indirect counselling assumes that only the counsellee is capable of defining accurately his or her problems and that the most effective way of getting to the heart of a difficulty is to encourage the other party to discuss the issue at length.

Whereas 'Mentoring' on the hand, has a focus on development and growth, it deals with individual career-related issues. Within an academic institution, mentoring can be used to support non-academic staff to settle into their new jobs and to give them feedback on how to improve their work performance. (Bryant and Terborg, 2008:13).

Coaching is a valuable learning and development tool practiced in OBS.

This is often in the form of co-ordination, skills development, accreditation and integration into other learning and development processes, such as appraisals, personal development planning and talent management. OBS has develop internal coaching services, using either learning and development resources or developing line managers to work as internal coaches to people outside their teams.

"Coaching and mentoring are learning relationships which help people to take charge of their own development, to release their potential and to achieve results which they value." (Connor and Pokora, 2007)

Examples of counselling are at OBS:

Assessing the performance of a probationer

Assessing staff training and development needs

Situation when an employee is planning to retire or resign from the service

Where there is a decline in work performance

Where the standard of conduct is not being met

Where a difficulty has been overcome; or

To maintain continuing good performance

Examples of mentoring at OBS:

Providing information or lessons learned from past events and reports in a specific work area

Sharing of personal experiences, including mistakes and risky choices that you may have made or observed

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Brainstorming with employees, identifying strategies for mitigating and managing risk in an organization

Acknowledging, recognizing and thanking individuals for their safe choices and for self-reporting errors and at-risk behaviours

Providing one-on-one assistance to assist the capability/potential of employees

In order to support their strategic direction OBS also use professional development skills such as leadership skills, empowerment and delivering effective presentations. These skills discover the benefits of high-quality onsite training geared towards employers and their employees, workforce development, and overall success in the workplace. Thus, maximize the talents, skills, and experiences of everyone to meet individual and organizational goals.

2. TASK 2

2.1 Skills audit and SWOT analysis

A skill audit is a valuable conceptual tool that can be used to help identify the capabilities of an individual in an attempt to evaluate possible plans for the future. It helps to identify your existing skills, identify what skills you may need to carry out your existing voluntary work and role more effectively and to plan, develop and improve the skills and knowledge needed for your future career.

Assessing 'Skills' is not straightforward. You can be skilled at one thing, but find something similar quite difficult. Or you can be confident in using a skill in some settings, but not in others. So to gain a rounded picture of your skills and abilities different tools are used to assess a person's ability or personality in a measured and structured way.

Psychometric testing

Psychometric testing describes a range of exercises used by employers as a 'tool' to gauge an individual's aptitude or personality. Tests essentially fall into two main groups - ability and personality - and are designed to give additional insight into a candidate's aptitudes and behaviours. Where you take the test in the selection process should give you an indication of how much importance the recruiter places on your score or assessment.

2.2 Skill Audit

A skill audit is carried out to help identifying our strengths, weaknesses and areas for development within various skills areas.

SKILL

TYPICAL DESCRIPTORS

SKILL LEVEL

Low High

SPECIFIC COMMENTS

Communication & listening skills

Structure and format: techniques for effective presentations; using the telephone; meetings.

1 2 3 4 5

I should be able to learn facts and procedures more quickly

Problem solving

- Ability to make decisions

- Selecting suitable solutions

- Analysis of appropriateness.

1 2 3 4 5

Lack of training concerning product development so as to make better and prompt decision

Target setting

Understanding and communicating organizational objectives; use of SMART

1 2 3 4 5

Personal Development Plan required to gain additional insights

Written communications

Structure and format of letters, memos, e-mails, reports

1 2 3 4 5

Should maintain the level by demonstrating more efforts

Planning

- Leading teams

- Consulting team members

- Task allocation

- Objective setting

- Meet deadlines

1 2 3 4 5

Should construct a Personal Development Plan to stay focus

Organisation and time management

- Prioritizing

- dealing with paperwork; interruptions

- planning daily activities

- Being punctual and able to keep up workload

1 2 3 4 5

- More concentration on objectives and priorities

- Strong organizational skills is to be maintained.

Public relation skills

- Responding to enquiries

- Managing surveys

- Handling difficult customers

- Evaluating feedback

1 2 3 4 5

- Should develop skills when dealing with angry customers.

- Patience

- Expanding people's range of skills to respond to conflict

SKILL

TYPICAL DESCRIPTORS

SKILL LEVEL

Low High

SPECIFIC COMMENTS

Team working & Leadership skills

- Team building

- Group work

- Sharing of knowledge

- Ability to work alongside other members of staff

1 2 3 4 5

- Communicate more effectively

- Get information easier

Interpersonal skills

- Communication skills

- Social skills (e.g. eye contact, body language)

- Emotional Intelligence

(e.g. empathy)

1 2 3 4 5

High work ethnic and responsibility is required to perform better

Project Management skills

- Good time management

- Meet deadlines

- Research and methods used

- Creative thinking

1 2 3 4 5

Ability to quickly adapt to dynamic, fast paced environment

Workforce relations skills

- Developing engagement strategies

- Relationship building

- Evaluating feedback

- Managing surveys

1 2 3 4 5

Ability to visualize and implement feature requirements

Revision and exam techniques

- Able to plan my revision time

- Meet deadlines

1 2 3 4 5

Lack of expertise in dealing with a variety of numerical techniques

Learning skills

- Quick learner

- Strong familiarity with Microsoft standard interfaces

- Able to work with different software

1 2 3 4 5

Demonstrated effort is needed to finish tasks and bring quality software to production

Stress Management

- Able to work under pressure

- Able to cope with personal and professional matter

1 2 3 4 5

- Expanding people's range of skills to respond to conflict

- Ignore people who is interrupting objectives set

Table 1: Personal Skill Audit

2.2 SWOT analysis

A personal SWOT analysis attempts to answer the simple question, 'what are you like?' The purpose of which is to understand where you are at the moment and where your likely vulnerability lies. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. By analyzing these four key factors it is possible to build a strong picture of you and help you work out what is going to make you stick to a career for the rest of your life or at least for a couple of years.

Being aware of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are important and will be a great guide to you as you move onwards and upwards. It will:

Keep you on track and motivated

Help with making decision

Add to your sense of fulfillment

A SWOT analysis is a tool often used by consultants to analyze the state and prospects of a business. This tool can also be applied to individuals as a means of identifying activities for a personal development plan. The SWOT analysis is simply a way of structuring your ideas from your earlier discussion.

Table 2 shows a Personal SWOT analysis of my present level of strategic skills

Strengths

Good character and personality

Good at decision-making

Problem solving

Energetic

Punctual

Friendly attitude

Weaknesses

Can be impatient

Not much technical experience

Time pressure causes stress

Opportunities

To engage others in providing feedback about their experience of me

To receive coaching in service of improving my leadership skills

To learn from others in similar roles to mine

Threats

Time pressure

Cannot afford to go freelance

The multitude of everyday demands

Table 2: Personal SWOT Analysis

2.3 Two models of learning style

The preferred way in which an individual approaches a task or learning situation, their learning style or approach or strategy has been characterized in several different ways based on a variety of theoretical models.

Kolb (1984) considers individuals' approaches using the Learning Styles Inventory, in which four stages of learning requiring specific learning abilities are identified. Based on Kolb's theories, Honey and Mumford (1986) developed the Learning Styles Questionnaire (LSQ) and suggest four basic learning styles: those of the activist, reflector, theorist and pragmatist. While everyone has a mix of learning styles, some people have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. Critically, there is no correct mix. Honey and Mumford's LSQ has been widely used in management training and development (see Hayes and Allinson, 1988; Sadler- Smith, 1996).

Honey & Mumford (1982) devised an influential self-test, which indicates whether you are predominantly an activist, a reflector, a theorist, or a pragmatist. They have done an enormous amount of work on learning styles. Most people find that they are a combination of two or more of the four main styles. However learning styles are not just a matter of intellectual curiosity, they affect every manager in any organisation.

The aims of analyzing learning styles are to:

Realize that there are many different styles

Discover resources where you can assess your learning style

Realize there are strategies you can use to make best use of your natural learning style

Activist

Activist likes to be fully involved in new experiences. Open-minded, will try anything once, thrives on challenge of new experiences.

Activists learn best from activities in which there are:

New experiences and challenges from which to learn.

Short 'here and now' tasks involving competitive teamwork and problem-solving.

Excitement, change and variety.

High visibility' tasks such as chairing meetings, leading discussions and presentations.

Situations in which new ideas can be developed without constraints of policy and structure.

Opportunities for just 'having a go'.

Activists learn least from, and may react against, activities where:

They have a passive role (lectures, instructions, reading).

They are observers.

They are required to assimilate, analyze and interpret lots of 'messy' data.

They must work in a solitary way (reading and writing alone).

Statements are 'theoretical' - an explanation of cause.

There is considerable repetition (practising the same skill).

There are precise instructions with little room for manoeuvre.

They must be thorough, and tie up loose ends

Activists are visual learners. They like to be with other people, and to be the centre of attention.

2.3.2 Reflectors

Reflectors like to stand back, think about things and not be involved until they are clear about everything. They are cautious and often keep quiet at meetings and discussions, listening to others. When they do act, they have a wide picture of their own and other's views.

Situations where one can watch and think about activities. Carry out investigations or research before acting, review the evidence, and produce an own considered report or action plan. Allow plenty of time for decisions.

Reflectors can be said to be auditory learners. They analyze everything carefully. Once they have an overview of a situation it is then proceed.

Own preferred learning style

Learning style refers to the ways you prefer to approach new information. Each of us learns and processes information in our own special style, although we share some learning patterns, preferences, and approaches. Knowing your own style also can help you to realize that other people may approach the same situation in a different way from your own

Table 3 shows that I am an auditory learner and can be categorized as a reflector.

1

When I try to concentrate …

I get distracted by sounds, and I attempt to control the amount and type of noise around me.

2

When I visualize…

I think in voices and sounds.

3

When I talk with others…

I enjoy listening, or I get impatient to talk myself.

4

When I contact people…

I prefer speaking by telephone for serious conversations.

5

When I see an acquaintance…

I know people's names and I usually quote what we discussed.

6

When I relax…

I listen to the radio, play music, read, or talk with a friend.

7

When I read…

I enjoy the narrative most and I can almost 'hear' the characters talk.

8

When I spell…

I sound cut the word, sometimes aloud, and tend to recall rules about letter order.

9

When I do something new…

I want verbal and written instructions, and to talk it over with someone else.

10

When I assemble an object…

I need directions.

11

When I interpret someone's mood…

I rely on listening to tone of voice.

12

When I teach other people…

I tell them, write it out, or I ask them a series of questions.

Auditory

Table 3: Own preferred learning style

However, the important rule to remember is that no matter how diverse learning styles may appear, as long as they are effective in the majority of cases then they should be seen as productive.

3. TASK

Personal Development Plan (PDP)

Personal Development Plan can be defined as a process that helps an individual to think about his/her own learning, performance and/or achievements and to plan for his/her personal, educational and career development.

PDP, therefore, makes you aware of how you are progressing and this awareness brings a number of benefits. For example, it will be easier to identify areas of concern and it will help you to demonstrate to prospective employers that, through PDP, you have acquired strategies that make you a desirable, well motivated and focused individual. Furthermore, PDP processes can motivate you when your interest starts to decline.

The three approaches below will helps will give us a clear picture of a Personal Development Plan.

Personal: this is your plan. It relates specifically and only to you, and will enable you to tailor your own development to suit your particular needs

Development: this is about you recognizing the need to improve in particular areas of your personal and professional life.

Plan: this is not just a statement of intention. It is a plan; incorporating the where, when, how and why of your personal development.

The purpose of the PDP is to get you to determine where it is you want to go, and how you intend to get there. It is all about improving your professional practice and developing your career. The objectives that you identify at this stage will move you closer to achieving your goals, but will also be firmly rooted in your current role and your intended future role that is, your ambitions.

3.2 PDP that meets professional and leadership skills development

What are my development objectives?

Priority

What activities do I need to undertake achieve my objectives?

What support/resources do I need to achieve my objectives

Target date for achieving my objectives

Actual date of achieving my objectives

Ensure better communication at the workplace

High

- Regular meetings should be scheduled with staffs.

- Email communications

- Monthly newsletter

- SharePoint

- Effective process

- Feedback and suggestions

Making suitable decision

Medium

- Establish clear roles and responsibilities

- Solving difficult problem

Information gathering and research

Ability to meet deadlines

High

- Maintain workout schedule of 5 days/week

Identify high priority issues

Improve written communication skills

Medium

- Effective training to staffs

Day to day coaching and encouragement

Strategic planning & organisation

Medium

- Set deadlines

- Manage time effectively

- Devise and implement systems and procedures

Good planning aids

Managing projects

High

- Demonstrate responsiveness to projects

Development of an action plan

What are my development objectives?

Priority

What activities do I need to undertake achieve my objectives?

What support/resources do I need to achieve my objectives

Target date for achieving my objectives

Actual date of achieving my objectives

Provide leadership

High

- Organize specific meetings to communicate them to staff members.

Develop and share my vision, mission, and goals

Teamwork

High

- Establish monthly 1:1 meetings

Review and update procedures and distribute it to all staff

Problem solving

Medium

- Identify problems resulting from lack of attention to detail

Take corrective actions to ensure they do not occur

Leadership skills

High

- Organize specific meetings and communicate the findings to staff members

Help individuals expand their development needs. A development plan is then vital

Managing staff

High

- Conduct internal surveys

- Give staff opportunity to participate

- Apply a democratic leadership style at the workplace

- Respond to all staff queries

- Ensure reduction in complaints whether from staff or customers

Training and coaching

Table 4: Personal Development Plan (PDP)

4. Conclusion and Recommendations

Professional development should always be contextualised within a leadership-oriented framework. It plays an important role in enabling the workforce to promote leadership skills. However, managers need to be innovative in their approach to professional development. Professional development has traditionally been thought of in terms of training and development. It is true that skills training and capacity building, by-products of professional development, lead to an increasingly sustainable and capable workforce.

Professional development incorporates supervision and mentoring opportunities, on-the job training, leadership training, and organisational structures to ensure the creation of a learning culture that embraces recovery principles and practices in the workplace.

It is recommended that every manager construct a Personal Development Plan that meets both their professional and leadership skills. It provides managers with the strategies and opportunities available to build basic skills and competencies in current and future staff.