Self Development And Analysis Education Essay

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As the term suggests, self development refers is a cognisant attempt to improve one's capabilities and potentials via a structured learning process involving assessment, feedback and resolute strategies for improvement. Argyris (1985) re-inforces that this must be a conscious effort, "the door to self-development is locked from inside. No one can develop anyone but themselves."

Consultation of a wide range of literature on the subject reveals some common ground bordering on the acquisition of knowledge/skills for the purpose of enhancing individual/group performance.

Self development has been described as a "structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development" (QAA. 2005). Adaptable to workplace scenarios, is Madden and Mitchell's (1993) definition, which emphasizes on continuous professional development and views the concept as "the maintenance and enhancement of the knowledge, expertise and competence of professionals throughout their careers according to a plan formulated with regard to the needs of the professional, the employer, the profession and society." Clyne, (1995) refers to the subject as "the systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge and skill and the development of personal qualities necessary for the execution of professional and technical duties throughout the practitioner's working life."

Self analysis arguably is incorporated in the workings of self development, as it largely borders on penetrative introspection into an individual's attitudes, behavioural patterns, emotional resilience, strengths and weaknesses. The prime aim of self analysis is to understand the psychology of existence thereby creating awareness that leads to development. The great philosopher Aristotle captures this ideology in his quote "knowing thyself is the beginning of all wisdom."

NEED FOR SELF-DEVELOPMENT

The importance of self development can't be understated regardless of the scenario an individual is involved in. From the workplace to higher institutions even down to informal interpersonal circumstances; the knowledge of one's self and abilities remains a defining factor between outstanding success or outright mediocrity. Jayaram (2010) "self development is central to our living and survival. It helps us know what we are, where we are, what we should be and where we should actually aim to reach."

Management is a position of responsibility, which requires top-notch abilities to effectively utilize people and resources. Yau (2003) insists that how proficient we are in the skills that we have acquired determines our market-value, efficiency and competency level, thus in the context of excellence and inner fulfilment in future managerial roles, self development is invaluable. Drucker (1999) "we live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: if you've got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out. It is up to you to carve out your place, to know when to change course, and to keep yourself engaged and productive during your work life." Vaughan (1992) backs this up by identifying reasons for professionals to engage in self development; these include the need update themselves in new knowledge, the need to train themselves for additional roles demanded of them and the need to improve personal effectiveness.

Given the dynamism in today's workplace, it is pertinent that individuals are suitably adapted to the pace of change. This notion is re-echoed by Pedlar (1986) "the working world is constantly changing, you learn to change rather than become a victim of change." Yau (2003) "as individuals living in this fast moving society it is crucial to remain knowledgeable and competitive by investing in ourselves, constantly upgrading, continuously learning new skills or bettering those that we have already acquired".

TECHNIQUES FOR SELF DEVELOPMENT

In the pursuit of a better understanding of one's self, a variety of strategies exist for individuals to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and to plan for their own development.

The basic technique to start off with is the art of reflection on past experiences. Reflection enables individuals identify the positives and negatives, giving one the alertness to build on strengths and remedy weaknesses. Many scholars advocate that by reviewing events, we can raise questions that highlight our development needs. Boydell (1985) reflection and backward reviews, raise self awareness that eventually assists personal development.

Diagnostic tools, tests and models also assist in the process of self development. Worthy of mention are Learning logs, Belbin profiling (which highlights team-working profiles), the Johari window (which assists the process of reflection and feedback), management competencies test (which explores the need for core managerial skills) etc.

One common characteristic of the above mentioned tools is that they culminate in the need for individuals to monitor, review and record experiences; as well as the need to develop action plans and engage in new challenging situations.

Kolb (1984) developed the learning cycle model and theorized that for learning to occur, experience, observation, conceptualization and experimentation must be involved. "Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it."

Kolb's model is widely accepted and it conforms to earlier works such as Dewey (1938) "there is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education."

The CPD framework is another relevant configuration offering detailed steps.

ANALYSE CURRENT SITUATION

SET SOME GOALS

PLAN HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS

EXECUTE THE PLAN

ASSESS HOW FAR YOU HAVE ACHIEVED YOUR GOALS

What to change! ((Diagnosis and goal-setting))

How to change it ! ((Intermediate goals and actions defined + problem solving, choosing appropriate method/s of development))

Change it! ((Action , Risk taking, perseverance))

Did it change? ((Evaluation, in terms of success and failure + reflection on the impacts and outcomes))

Putting future career scenarios into perspective, another model worthy of consideration is the MSC's (Management Standards Centre) benchmark to best practices. They propose that managers must gain competence in certain functional areas identified below:

Aptitudes such as: the ability to manage your own resources, professional development and personal networks are recognized as catalysts for the whole process.

Source: National Occupational Standards (2004)

With realization of the fact that self development is integral to my future success I have embarked upon my own individual self exploratory initiative by using 3 toolkits: The Belbin profile, the Johari window and the Mc. Gregor X-Y competency test.

REFLECTION AND FINDINGS

BELBIN PROFILE TOOLKIT

Summary of critical incident

Over the residential weekend I got to discover more about myself in terms of my abilities and team playing skills, particularly, during the flat pack exercise which involved building a structure with a set of interlocking planks based on a sample, within 40 seconds.

I came up with brilliant ideas that helped the team figure out the arrangement of the planks and also offered credible suggestions for beating the clock. However, some of my ideas were ignored by the team; regardless I remained to the task at hand. Upon completion of the excercise, I realized that it wasn't enough to have good ideas, proper communication and a good degree of assertiveness are just as essential.

How does this reflect the findings of your chosen self analysis toolkit?

This incident is a mirror image of my Belbin role (PLANT) which highlights that innovative ideas, revolutionary thinking, problem solving and creativity are my key characteristics working in a team. During the excercise I displayed these qualities some of which were capitalized on by the team. My weaknesses came across when I was unable to get the team to commit to all my lofty ideas. Not everyone was on my wave length, there were other ideas that edged mine out and my communication wasn't exactly perfect either.

The Belbin tool kit also categorizes me as a team player and during the exercise I portrayed qualities such as diplomacy, commitment to all ideas, good listening skills and co-operation. I displayed these qualities with ease ensuring everyone had the oppourtunity to effectively contribute. My weaknesses came across a few times when I feigned acceptance to some ideas that were way below average, I knew I could come up with better suggestions, but to avoid friction I kept them bottled up.

What are the implications for future career or personal development

With this critical understanding of my team working profile it is important that in my future and personal development within teams I need to push my ideas enthusiastically if I want people to regard them. Good communication as mentioned earlier on is a paramount area for improvement if I intend to achieve optimal and self fulfilling performance within teams. In addition analysis of the Belbin profile indicates that I am least suited for Implementer and Shaper roles. To this end I have come to the resolution that I need to overcome my reluctance to organise and control others, develop hard-driving characteristics and start seeking to achieve results via power and pressure.

See Appendix 1.0 (Belbin results)

JOHARI WINDOW

Summary of critical incident

My most successful presentation took place during my first Msc. Program at the University of Bolton. The topic was "outsourcing" and amongst the audience were 3senior lecturers. I had over a month to prepare, but with just about a week to go I still hadn't fine tuned my report. Not prepared to accept defeat, I swung into action immediately by developing points that offered credible arguments, appropriate critiques and my own recommendations. Another strategy I employed was to use diagrams, graphs and pictures to sublimely convey information. In the long run my presentation was a major success; I remained calm and confident all through, spoke eloquently and scaled through the Q&A session all within the allotted time. I sparked the admiration of my colleagues and received appraisal from my lecturers. All in all, this entire incident always stands out in memory bank, I always reflect on it when I need a confidence boost.

How does this reflect the findings of your chosen self analysis toolkit?

I describe myself as an individual that is never ignorant about getting goals achieved. To benchmark this view, I have utilized the Johari strategy (and the adjective list) to solicit and receive feedback from 4 acquaintances across different spheres of my life. I have gained a first and account of how others see me and to a large extent their opinions reinforce my already held belief in my ability to succeed despite the odds I face. In relation to the incident discussed above, over 60% of my respondents described me as intelligent, imaginative, ambitious and confident. Considering the fact that the above incident has never been discussed with any of my respondents I find the tool kit of very much relevance.

However some responses revealed some flaws I was unconscious of (and largely indifferent towards, before the exercise). It was a wake-up call being described as dreamy, critical, lazy, stubborn and over-confident. Indeed I have known myself to be laid back, introverted, self conscious and relentless at certain times but I had no idea some of these attitudes were being perceived in such negative light.

What are the implications for future career or personal development

Despite the fact that I am a gifted individual, I need to avoid the 11th hour approach to tasks and channel some of my mental energy into practical activities in a timely fashion. Confidence is a positive trait but it is important curtail any outward projections of pride as it could hamper my progress in future. In summary, determination, courage, self-esteem are keys to success, in all circumstances however, I need to remain humble and maintain a modest ego for my interpersonal relationships to thrive.

See Appendix 2.0 (Feedback via adjectives list)

Mc GREGOR X-Y THEORY

Summary of critical incident

Prior to the start of my current program at Northumbria, I was employed at Sandtander cards as an outbound collections agent. Working in a team of 12, my primary responsibility was securing payments from customers who had exceeded their credit card limit and were behind on payments. I was privileged to be under the tutelage of a dedicated manager who constantly ensured I performed at my best. I was given concrete training and encouraged to take on new tasks and participate in pilot programs. I frequently received feedback on my performance and was encouraged to work independently. Incentives and appraisals based on performance were given routinely, particularly, when I demonstrated my ability to tackle daunting situations. In the course of my service at the company, I was awarded highest collections agent on two occasions and my collections profile, by and large stood out. All in all the organizational culture and the managerial style has left an indelible impression on me and undoubtedly the experience will be helpful in my future career.

How does this reflect the findings of your chosen self analysis toolkit?

Self analysis using the XY theory reveals that I am in sync with the Y management orientation. Based on my experiences at Santander, I tend to thrive in a working environment where I am given the oppourtunity to take on genuine responsibility and be commensurately rewarded and recognized. The absence of undue pressure and a dictatorial management style was consistent all through my tenure at Santander, this also mirrors the largely recommended Y profile. The following diagram encapsulates the alignment between the critical incident and my preference for the Y management style.

 

What are the implications for future career or personal development

For future managerial positions I will discharge my duties with the understanding that, creating a conducive atmosphere for my subordinates to thrive and develop will be a more effective means of attaining goals. Rather than issuing threats or assuming staff are nonchalant towards work, recognizing their achievements and the creation of an appropriate reward system are crucially important techniques to generate and maintain commitment amongst employees.

See appendix 3.0 (Results X-Y theory questionnaire)

Summary of Overall strengths and weakness

Throughout this period of self analysis, I have become aware of the following:

Critical thinking, innovation and creativity characterize my approach to tasks. I possess an exceptional ability to fashion out revolutionary ideas that have immense potential if they are acted on. Despite this astute ability however, getting others to commit to my ideas has to an extent been a challenge during team working sessions. Introverted by nature, I have thrived on working independently but I now understand the need to adopt a more flexible approach when working as part of a team. Flexibility here doesn't imply any sacrifice to quality, it is being used in the context of active participation, with a tint of assertiveness and charisma. I need to seize the initiative, speak up and exert more influence in my immediate circle.

Confidence is a trait I have learnt to harness. I constantly motivate myself to gun for the top, refusing to accept mediocre results. This dogged and unflinching attitude has very often been the defining factor between success or failure for me. By drawing on my prior successes I maintain a positive outlook and constantly drive myself to attain higher levels of accomplishment. Whilst this is laudable, the mannerisms I project (consciously or unconsciously) must in no way be egotistical or appear domineering.

Very significantly I have come to see the correlation between literature on managerial styles and actual effectiveness in practice. By reflecting on my workplace experiences I have consciously identified specific managerial traits to imbibe in the context of my future in a managerial position. As mentioned earlier, my approach to managing people and resources must empower and harness potentials rather than terrorize and intimidate. The work culture I create should also encourage participation and incorporate an effective rewards system; this undoubtedly will gain their commitment towards the objectives of the enterprise.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The concluding part of this report culminates in the devise of an action plan, a modus operandi for remedying my weaknesses and capitalizing on my strengths. Drawing on consulted literature, the SMART matrix has been employed in this regard. It stipulates that specific objectives should be identified; these indentified objectives should be measurable, relevant and achievable within a specified time frame. In view of my lofty career ambitions, my personalized plan critically evaluates my weaknesses and proposes genuine means to correct them.

See Appendix 4.0

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