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Study of Professional development for strategic managers

Introduction
TASK 1: PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL SKILLS REVIEW

This assignment will examine my personal and professional skills through my own evaluation and assessment of my colleagues. The purpose of the assessment is to identify my weaknesses and strengths.It also helps in identifying some techniques to improve and enhance my skills.

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This will be analysed through the accomplishment of personal audit.

Activity 1: Personal Skills Review

Stress Management

According to Lazarus and Folkman (1984) stress is a result of the imbalance between demands and resources or when pressure exceeds one’s ability to cope. Stress management was developed on the idea that stress is not the result of a stressor but rather on one’s capability to cope and the ability to respond to it. Also, if the person possesses or can use adequate coping skills, then stress may not actually be a result or develop because of the stressor.

In my personal experience, I have learned to face damaging challenges at home and in the workplace. When I am anxious I think of some activities to help release the tension. I exercise regularly. Regular physical activity is very effective in fighting stress. There are a lot of physical activities that is very effective in distressing. I just choose a particular activity that suits my personality otherwise it will just add to the heavy load of emotional burden. I find some activities like jogging, brisk walking, cycling and aerobics dancing fun and enjoyable when participated with people I am comfortable to be with. My other ways of fighting stress and anxiety is to be in the company with happy people.

According to Hargreaves, (1998) stress is expensive. Stress related illness leads towards the increase of financial cost. For example when I become sick due to stress related illness at work, my medication was shouldered by the management. I was also paid with my whole salary during the period that I was absent from work. These are one of the cases where stress related illness added cost for the company. .

Time Management .

Manktelow (2006) writes that the starting point for effective time management is to set priorities. When I am faced with a variety of choices competing for my attention and time I prioritize things because it will help me decide which path to take. Setting my goals help me identify and focus on my priorities that help me evaluate what needs to be done first. By doing this, I can do things easily and use time effectively.

Susan Ward (2011) has pointed out five (5) time management techniques which I have practiced. These are:

Recognize you can’t do it all: I decide what roles and activities are important. The important thing is, I am happy and healthy the way I am spending my time. I don’t force myself into doing things I don’t like to please other people.
Prioritize: I plan things and review my list of what to do on a particular day and what things that must be done. I give attention on the most important activity on hand.
Learn to say “Yes” and “No”: When I am ask to commit on something, I would say “no” if I really can’t and “yes” if it’s equally important to me.
Unplug: There are times when it’s important or useful not to “be connected” all the time. Recognize what situation must be given attention and disregard things that appear to be nuisance.
Take time off: Weekend is my personal and family day. If I need to be with my family, I set time for them. I also allow myself to take some refreshing time alone with my friends.

Good time management helps me control my time and life. I have maintained a balanced work and personal activities. This gave me flexibility in dealing with challenges in life and respond to new opportunities.

Assertiveness

Winstanley (2005) wrote that assertiveness is expressing your needs, your wants, opinions, feelings and beliefs and get these met in direct, honest and subtle way. It is also respecting the needs of the other party.

Though I speak out my opinion at times, it will only come out as that because I don’t assert enough to get what I want. In my experience, my promotion to Human Resource Management Officer II, at the Human Resource Department of the Livelihood Corporation was delayed because I was too shy to ask my manager to send me to a one week external training program. I was not able to attend the scheduled training program and had to wait for months for it to be conducted again.I eventually got promoted only after 6 months of waiting. It could be much earlier if I had been assertive.

According to Cooper (2008), there are some techniques that can provide you with the opportunity to slide up or slide down in an attempt to assert your personal views or opinion:

To Slide Down: This is being able to communicate our feelings and thoughts in an open and direct way, showing respect of the rights and feelings of others and them to respect our own.

Empathy: It understands the depth of another person’s feelings.
Active listening: It is giving importance to the other person’s point of view.
Focus on facts and issues (not the person): Being objective and not subjective
Good quality questions: Ask questions relative to the issue
Being non-emotional: Being professional in dealing with the matter

To Slide Up:Is defined as showing rage, aggressive body language and forcing other people to do what you want.

Body and hand language: shows aggressiveness
Eye contact: insisting and compelling
Facial expressions: indicates dominance
Pace, tone and volume of speech: argumentative
Directness of language: no respect

Assertiveness is a mutual and open exchange of views and understanding. The slide down technique must be used all the time when assertiveness is needed to be projected in dealing with other people in common circumstances.

Activity 2: Professional Skills Review

Coaching Skills

It is the responsibility of the human resource manager to produce a well trained and motivated work force in the organization. Employees’ knowledge and skills needs to be continuously improved to perform productively to achieve personal and organizational goals.

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Maharlika, Complex is a subsidiary of the Livelihood Corporation, a government owned and controlled corporation. The company is engaged in providing financial aid to farmers and help these farmers sell their agricultural goods in the market. The employees of Maharlika Complex.,are monitoring the progress of the vendors (farmers) in the market to ensure that these farmers will be able to pay the loaned amount from the company. This is the government’s way of helping small farmers augment their living, helping them financially from planting to selling their products.

Counselling and mentoring are conducted by Maharlika employees to the farmers and vendors. More of the counselling was given to farmers whose plantations were devastated by natural disaster. It helps to motivate them cultivate their lands to have better produce. The employees were effective in their counselling skills and able to uplift the self-esteem of the farmers. They are good in counselling because they were trained and coached how to do it professionally by their mentors.

Having worked at the Livelihood Corporation, I have observed how the project manager of Maharlika Complex effectively exercises her coaching style. She has the ability to communicate with people well with good understanding to varying traits and attitude of each individual working for the company. The manager has effectively managed to apply the coaching cycle of Cooper (2008), in her attempt to teach the staff with new skills and learning as ways of motivating them to perform at their best.

The Coaching Cycle

The cycle starts with telling the employees of what, how and why a particular task needs to be done. Showing how a task should be done is optional, giving the person the leeway to perform in his own convenience and style. In order for the employees to be competent and confident to do or start a new task, they are given the opportunity to practice what has been learned through coaching. The manager coach then monitors and observes the performance level of each individual and assess in what areas there is a need to be improved. After assessment a constructive feedback is facilitated where the discussion between the coach and the individual is light and a two-way process.

According to Armstrong, S. and Mitchell, B. (2008) employees want mentoring in two areas: (1) the skill they need to succeed in the job and (2) the skills they need to build a satisfying career.

The skills they need to succeed in the job are mentored through on going training and development where the professional experience of the manager is applied in one-on-one coaching.The new employees of Maharlika Complex were closely monitored by their mentors who know the job they were doing, and willing to take them by the hand then teach and lead them to a new defined skill for future career advancement. It stimulates enthusiasm and energy so that the employees keep moving forward towards their goals (Merlevede, P.E. and Bridoux,D.C, 2004).

Leadership Skills

In the writings of Hersey and Blanchard (n.d.) a Participative Leader seeks to involve other people in the process, including subordinates, peers, and superior. Often, however, as it is within the managers’ whim to give or deny control to his or her subordinates, most participative activity is within the immediate team. The question of how much influence others are given thus may vary on the manager’s preferences and beliefs, and a whole spectrum of participation is possible.

The department managers of Maharlika Complex exercised different styles of leadership in their assigned areas. In the case of the Project Manager he has been very successful in being slightly autocratic because he has the full knowledge of how a task or project is to be accomplished.The project manager is not over using his capacity by controlling every movement of his subordinates. He listens to some suggestionsand even considered implementation of the suggestion if found to be beneficial for the project, the department and the organization as a whole. The human resource manager in the other hand projects a participative leadership where she as the manager shared leadership with the staff members. This gives employees the feeling of satisfaction when some responsibilities are placed in their care. Shared leadership is like a partnership between the manager and the employees for the purposes of developing a motivated and co-operative working environment.

The management of Maharlika Complex is developing employees that have potentials to become good leaders. Some of the company’s employees have the leadership skills.The managers are encouraging these people to work hard and develop their leadership skills not only for their personal and professional growth but also for the benefit of the company. Regular counselling was conducted to boost the self-esteem of the employees. An effective counselling eliminates an undesirable behavioural aspect of an individual and creates a positive attitudinal character. Good leaders have confidence and the natural characteristic of influencing other people. These leadership skills are being taught by the managers to their staff for them to develop to become good mentors and leaders in the future.

The management of Maharlika has adapted the 7 steps to ensure an effective mentoring relationship as researched by Merlevede and Bridoux (2003). The following steps are:

first step is “choosing a protege” where the leader chooses to mentor a person because the leader knows there is a lot of potential present in that person.
second step is “connecting”, where the mentor and the protege would establish relationship skills, and rapport to ensure that mentoring will run smoothly.
third step is “outlining the relationship” that once certain level of trust is achieved the mentor figures out what the mentoring will be about.
fourth step is “getting to the bottom of it” where the mentor identifies what might have caused for a protege from achieving goals and then to take some actions for the protege to come close to the goal.
fifth step is “concrete action” where the mentor sees the protege taking his own destiny in his own hands and not relying or depending on his mentor.
sixth step is “following up” where the mentor can ask questions to the protege to know how the mentoring was absorbed.
seventh step is “get out of the way” is the period in time for the mentor and the protege to part ways letting the protege to loose and ready to face new challenges on his own.
Multi-tasking Skill

Multi-tasking is the ability of an individual to perform multiple tasks all at the same time. It is not only limited to the managers to do multi tasking, but it is also performed by the people from the ranks. It is performing loads of tasks in a limited period of time. To get better results and output from an individual performing multi task, he should be prepared and willing to do the job, well trained to perform it, and he must love to do it. Only a motivated individual can successfully accomplish and produce good output from loads of responsibilities placed on his shoulder. Otherwise, if the management will assign multiple tasks to an individual who is half hearted to perform it, the quality of the results will suffer.

Maharlika Complex once implemented multi tasking when the management decided to stream down the workforce. The employees were given the option if they wanted to stay or settle for early retirement. Most of the older personnel opted to be paid off. The jobs they left were distributed to the employees who stayed. The personnel manager looks into the job function of each employee and distributed these jobs to employees having the same function. In this case, the employee did not find it difficult to perform because of its similar skill needed to perform the task. Adjustment was made and eventually the multi tasking works. It saved time and cost and the employees were motivated to work efficiently because the managers themselves were also performing the same.

There was little mentoring done on the employees that were left behind. It is because the new tasks that were added to their responsibility were similar or hold the same function with the task they perform.The counselling and mentoring were concentrated on how to manage their time effectively and deal with stress.

The counselling was intensive because of the additional workload added to their responsibility. A group counselling was conducted twice a month to ease tension and stress for the employees doing the multi-tasking. As part of the counselling session, a time management seminar was also conducted. It is to help employees identify goals and learn to prioritize activities to get things done effectively. They were also counselled and mentored to keep diaries of planned activities to avoid missing important tasks.

With the effective counselling technique the employees of Maharlika Complex were motivated and committed to the tasks assigned to them. Mentorship was also emphasized to develop the leadership potential of the employees.

TASK 2: PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING

This group activity will help me and my co-group members to identify our strengths and weaknesses and analyse what should be done in order to enhance and develop our personal and professional skills. We will listen to each of our experiences told and give our insights to help each other in achieving our personal aspirations in life.

Activity 1: Personal Audit

A. Group sharing on Professional and Personal Life Experiences

I have discussed and shared with my group my professional and personal success and failures in life and they gave their comments and suggestions how to develop and enhance my skills based on their personal assessment on my experience.

My co-group members Hina and Hanushka have their own personal suggestions on how I would be able to enhance my strengths and develop my weaknesses. To enhance my skill in time management they have suggested that I should continue to focus on each important planned activity. In this way I will be able to accomplish what is needed to be done and will still have time to do other important matters.

We have also discussed on my lack of confidence to assert to get the things I want or to achieve. They have suggested that:

I should build my confidence;
I should learn to exercise my rights;
I should be firm;
I should not be intimidated; and
I should know the relevance and importance on what I am asserting for.

Another professional skill that I have to enhance is my coaching ability. I know that in some situations I am able to get the attention of the people I am given instructions to. They learn easily what was taught of them because I was patient enough to guide them step by step on what to do. My co-group members have suggested that I should attend some coaching trainings in order for me to get the techniques to enhance my skill.

B. PERSONAL AUDIT QUESTIONNAIRE

Please tick the appropriate option on the following rating scale (1-5) 1 being the weakest and 5 being the strongest.

1) I lack confidence in expressing my needs.

1___2___3___4___5___

2) I manage time effectively.

1___2___3___4___5___

3) I am not confident to lead.

1___2___3___4___5___

4) I cope with stress well.

1___2___3___4___5___

5) I manage a number of tasks well.

1___2___3___4___5___

6) I do not have confidence to give presentations.

1___2___3___4___5___

7) I am patient when imparting knowledge and skills to others.

1___2___3___4___5___

8) I do not have confident to influence others.

1___2___3___4___5___

9) I motivate people to perform.

1___2___3___4___5___

10) I do not direct people to do tasks.

1)___ 2___3___4___5___

C. Professional and Personal Audit(1 is weakest ; 5 is strongest)

Based on the personal assessment made by two persons on my personal and professional skills it was identified that I lack assertiveness. I had to develop my confidence to express what I want and develop my skills to lead effectively. It also shows my capability to coach and the strengths I have in time and stress management. If I develop my confidence and assertiveness, I know I will be able to overcome my weakness when it comes to leadership and assertiveness.

I should take some time to reflect on what to do first to proceed with the learning process to achieve my objective. The learning style I am adapting is the Reflectors Style. I am comfortable with this kind of learning because it gives me the opportunity to reflect on the information I get and compare to my personal experiences. I will get some techniques on how to assert by collecting informative reading materials. Watching video on personality development will also be considered to improve my confidence. Getting feedback from a friend will also help me in my learning process to gain confidence.

Activity 2: Progression Plan

A. Personal SWOT Analysis

As a result of making this analysis I can give emphasis on my strengths and focus on remedies to overcome my weaknesses. This will aid me in taking possible advantage of the opportunities at hand.

B. Development Plan
Skills Audit: Identifying Areas to Improve

In order to attain my goals, I have to strengthen my leadership skills. I need to improve my cognitive ability, strategic thinking, analytical ability, ability to delegate and influence, ability to learn from experiences and the ability to build technical competence. Developing my confidence is also a way to become assertive and stand up to get what I want.

To aid me in achieving this, I had to adapt the Reflector Style of Learning, one of the learning styles identified by Honey and Mumford (2008). This type of learning suits my personality. To develop my learning ability, I collect data, review and think carefully before making any conclusion or decision. I learn more by observing others, listening to their views and reflecting their leadership techniques.

I had to follow this learning style technique suggested by Honey and Mumford below:

Observing individuals or groups at work – Observing on what good leaders do and reflecting what I need to do to improve.
Reviewing what has happened and thinking about what they have learned – This is learning through experience and reflect what to do next to improve.
Producing analyses and reports doing tasks without tight deadlines – Evaluate the observations I made and do the things learned through observation to improve develop skills.

As part of my personal development plan I will consider the suggestions of Corttrell (2003) to make a structured process of reflection in order to develop my understanding on myself, my choices, what I want to achieve, how to plan and how to take action on improving my work. This will help me reflect on my weaknesses and think of better ways to minimize them. Trough reflection I will be able to:

Make sense out of experience: this will help me learn and develop my skills in leadership and assertiveness
Standing back : being observant and not in the midst of the activity to see the level of confidence of the people around
Repetition: practice to assert on small things first to gradually develop confidence
Deeper honesty: admitting my flaws and work to rectify them
Weighing up: help me evaluate the advantages of being assertive and disadvantages of being submissive.
Clarity: review activities done will help me see things clearly not only on my success but on my failed plans because of being non-assertive.
Understanding: I will be able learn things in a deeper level like gaining insights through reflector style of learning
Making judgement: reflection aids me in deciding things whether to assert or not.

This plan will be carried out by me as a guide to develop my personal and professional skills.

The Monitoring Process

Through monitoring my progress I should be able to know if my planned activities for the realization of my aims are achieved. It will help me recognize if my learning style applied to achieve my goals is effective. A monitoring device to determine my progress is provided. I will solicit feedback from my colleagues, coaches and mentors.

Monitoring progress on learning goals

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKS

Armstrong, S. and Mitchell, B., 2008. The Essential HR Handbook. USA:Book-mart Press
Cooper,S., 2008. Brilliant Leader. Great Britain:Pearson Education Ltd
Cottrell, S. 2003. Skills for Success. New York:Palgrave Macmillan
Hargreaves, G., 1998. Stress Management. The Essential Guide to Thinking and Working Smarter. London:Marshal Publishing
Lazarus, R. and Folkman, S. 1984. Psychological Stress and Coping Process. New York:Springer Publishing Company:ISBN:0826141919
Manktelow, J., 2006. Manage Your Time. London:DK
Merlevede, P.E. and Bridoux, D.C., 2004. Mastering Mentoring and Coaching with Emotional Intelligence. Wales:Crown House Publishing Ltd.
Winstanley, D., 2005. Personal Effectiveness. London:CIPD

WEBSITE

1.Wikipedia (2010). Stress Appraisal and Coping. 8 April 2011: www.uk.ask.com/wiki/stress_management.

2.www.spiritize.blogspot.com/2007/05/assertiveness-training.html. Notes to Self-Assertiveness

3.Hersey and Blanchard (n.d) Chairing Meetings.03 March 2011

4.http://www.blessingwhite.com/helping_others_succeed_gc.asp?gclid=CIjlpMyY46cCFQod4QoduBCv9A Helping Others Succeed:successful coaching Relationships are Custom Built

5.www.davidbonham-carter.com/assertiveness-training-book.html. Chairing Meetings

6. www.coachingnetwork.org.uk/resourcecentre/whatarecoachingandmentoring.html

7.Ward, S. (2011).Time Management.8 April 2011: www.sbinfocanada.about.com/od/timemanagement/a/getmoretime.htm

8.www.changingminds.org/discipline/leadership/styles/participative_leadership.html.

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