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Skill is an ability to perform / carryout some tasks. Skill could be natural or can be learnt. Skills are often segregated into personal and professional categories. Some skills refer as general- domain skills and some as specific- domain. Current modern economic era requires everyone to learn wide range of skills so as to vie in market and grasp their position at their current workplace.
Skills required by an individual to thrive in his /her professional career, are Professional Skills. Professional skills build up as individual gets experience in his / her professional field. Professional skills more often than not are measured in levels like novice, intermediary and connoisseur. Professional skills require individual to perform given tasks during their routine jobs. Professional skills always require continuous learning and practice. Let's take an example from software development industry, there are incessant improvements in standards of software development techniques and rapid approaches to manage development, so individual in software industry requires to espouse those new technical skills and strategies in order to remain in pace.
Now-a-days educational institutes are giving more importance to professional development of young generation. Today, we see universities saying, "We are business-like and Business facing" institutes. What is meant by that? Business-Like and Business-Facing universities get feedback from employers in course contents and mould student's attitudes more towards professionalism, so that, they could give a quick push to organisations with their developed professional skills.
Personal skills also referred as soft skills, are the skills which individuals practice in their daily life. Personal skills have a direct and deep influence on professional skills. Personal skills include carefulness, co-operation, creativity etc. Personal skills usually evolve naturally or by birth. Personal skills can be hone. Many institutes are offering personal development programs.
These questions give a lot of impression about individuals and play a vital role in routine life. Personal skills also give reflection of one's society he / she lives in. Melody (2000:19) says "Your ability to recognise, articulate and demonstrate your personal skills can make all the difference when it comes to getting a job". Today, it is largely believed that individual with good personal skills dish up better professional skills to any organisation.
In this modern era, business needs demand an individual to be a good learner. We can take an example from information technology industry where, each passing minute marks current technology with archaic label and if individual is not good enough to adopt or learn new technology he / she could also become obsolete. Quick learning is purely a personal skill.
Management skill is pure professional skill. Management and leadership skills are different in way i.e. leader motivates, originates and develop vision in people while manager initiates focuses and allocates resources..
I think leadership is a professional skill. These days we see a great deal of education providers offering leadership courses. leadership is a step by step learning process and individual learn it with experience. Leadership has a very key role in development of any organisation. The key characteristics of leadership are; innovation, inspiration, and motivation. Leader capability of seeing situations in long terms has a very deep impact in any organisational development. Organisation with effective leadership can control any ongoing strategy better because of their aptitude to motivate people and create vision.
Again it's a key quality; employers try to find during the interview or with the help of multi-choice questionnaire. How much dedication individual gives to a given task? Employers often weight Commitment as loyalty. You need dedication in every perspective of life. I rate commitment as personal skill.
I believe communication skill comes naturally. Regardless of the language, if a person is able to communicate his / her point of view then, he / she acquire good communication skill. If we weight communication skill in language perspective, that is multilingual skill and we can say that it's a professional skill.
Professional Development techniques
Professional development is not limited to any single approach or technique. It depends on the nature of professional skill that needs maturity or improvement. Some skill require short term learning like seminars, workshops or presentations while other skills may require research, full academic semesters etc.
Some effective approaches to professional development are:
Coaching and Counselling
Coaching is a directive approach to individual's professional development. Coaching plays a very vital role in business developments, and is usually carried out by senior management. Managers instruct employees according to their job. Coaching usually involves streamlining individual's concerns, solving problems and increasing employees' performance by giving directions to work.
Coaching and training of employees from top to bottom is a significant factor in any organisation's development. Coaching enhance and sharpen employees' skills so that they can do work precisely and hastily. Employees learn and practice new procedures, new technologies to perform better and that helps in developing organisation with brisk pace.
Coaching is defined by Eric Parsloe (1999:08) as; "a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. To be successful, a Coach requires knowledge and understanding of process as well as variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place". Counselling is very close to coaching but counselling uses encouraging approach. Counselling involves listening employees' concerns over workplace, then giving suggestions to improve.
Multitasking enables employees to work on more than one process or department. Multitasking terminology also relates to information technology where multiple processes are carried out at same time but, in business environment multitasking is a strategy where single employee possesses multiple skills called multi-skill.
Multi-skill or multitasking increases productivity and creates flexible workforce with more understanding of business needs. Multitasking helps business during shortage of manpower. Multitasking not only helps business development but also provides benefits to employees in term of increased salary and job security. The more individual is capable & flexible to business the more he is preferable.
It's an effectual approach towards professional development when it comes to a group of people. Workshop & presentation gives a defined knowledge to workforce in a short time with low budget but also has some concerns attached with it i.e. insufficient time to analyze and practice learning outcomes. Benefits of this approach are:
Learner benefits by learning proven behaviours and process
Learner learns new techniques
Time management comes under personal skill development but has a very deep impact over professional development. Time management comprised of four steps i.e.
Controlling (Keeping track of it)
Efficient time management helps individuals improve their productivity and enable employees to achieve tasks in bout.
Research and development approach is of very much importance. Almost all organisations adopt this approach in certain situations. Research methodology may start with identification of problem or personal growth, data collection is first critical step in research methodology and final step is analysis of data.
Many people think that research approach is a long term process but my observation is; research is not a long term process, it depends on the situation or type of problem. There are some issues with research and development approach i.e. it requires devoted staff and time readiness also requires research skills and often financial support.
Personal Skills Audit
Personal skill audit enables us to know our strengths and weaknesses. Below is my personal skill audit. The template below is taken from University of Salford Skill Audit Draft. I have made some amendments to make it according to my skill set.
Skill Development Priority
Organization Of Learning
I have strategies to help me to plan and manage my time
I am able to effectively prioritise my tasks and activities
I am able to work to deadlines
I am aware of what makes my learning more effective (e.g place to study, time to study etc)
Information Seeking Skills
I am able to find a specific book or journal in the library using the on-line catalogue
I am able to use a variety of different sources to find information
(e.g. journals. books, electronic resources)
I am able to access and search electronic resources (on-line databases, electronic journals CD-ROMs)
I am able to use search gateways on the Internet to find information
I am able to evaluate the information I find
I can analyze assignment (essay, report etc) questions to determine what is expected
I understand the difference between an essay and report
I can produce a written plan to answer an assignment question
I can punctuate, use grammar and spelling correctly
I am confident I can express my ideas clearly in written form
I am able to adapt my writing styles to suit the appropriate media/audience
I understand the need to reference my work to avoid plagiarism
I am able to express my views verbally
I am confident speaking in front of a group of people
I can prepare, plan and deliver a presentation
I can use visual aids to support a presentation
I work well as a member of a group or team
I am able to listen to and appreciate the views of others
I am able to use a word processing software package to produce my assignments
I can use a variety of different computer software (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access)
I have ability to understand criticalness of problem
I have ability to gather information in a systematic way to establish certain facts or principles
I have ability to understand and summarize information
I have ability to initiate, take decisions and act resourcefully
I am able to convince others that my ideas are of worth and best course of action.
I am able to set myself goals
I can negotiate with individual and group of people
I have ability to motivate, lead, direct and support others at my workplace
I am able to plan feasibility of project
I know what causes stress
I am aware of my personal symptoms of stress
I can use strategies to help me cope with my stress
I can work under stress
I am to produce expected results when I work under stress
Personal Development Planning
I am able to identify my personal goals
I am a good judge of what my strengths and areas for development are
I am able to identify opportunities for learning outside my course, e.g. clubs, societies, employment
I am able to plan for my personal development
I know when to use what development approach in order to gain efficient learning
Personal Development Plan
Personal development plan gives insight of individual's learning and development approach by targeting below activities:-
Skill to increase performance
Plans to achieve those targets
I have developed my personal development plan while focusing those activities; I have given importance in my skill audit.
Skills to be Improved
Need to maintain a to do list
To do list
Need to study task type
Prioritizing tasks based on criticalness
To do list with priority list
Capturing key facts and giving step by step approach
Projects / assignments
Understanding core presentation style. Attending local presentation development courses
e-learning, templates, videos
Practicing presentation in front of family or friends
Task - 5 Evaluation of Effectiveness and Impact of my Learning
Personal and professional skills play fundamental functions in a successful life. Every individual needs personal and professional growth. Technical, social, managerial skills and society manners come under this subject. Effectiveness of my learning is that I am now pretty much aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I know what I am lacking that can divert me achieving my targets. The impact of my learning is; now I have plans to overcome my weaknesses and to use my improved skills to take advantage from the on hand opportunities.
Professional development is not all but learning technical or business skills. Many other areas need development given that social and environmental changes occur. People travel across boundaries; discover new cultures and new working environment, which may have direct affects on personal & professional growth.
Time Management, good observation and quick learning skills are the basics of any development. If you have build up these skills, you can triumph over any critical situation.