Personal and Professional Development
In order to make smooth transition to a higher position in the job and avoid potential problems while performing new expanded responsibilities, it is essential to be a highly-qualified, skilled, goal-oriented, and well-educated professional. In higher education, it is crucial that students aim to develop their skills and obtain novel knowledge while choosing a path of self-learning. Self-learning and self-education frequently act as the main internal factors of personality development. Today, managers are facing constantly arising challenges induced by complicated business environments; the given fact stipulates their perpetual engagement in learning (Armstrong, 2008; Robbins & Coulter, 2010; Lian & Brown, 2012). The process of self-learning allows humans to acquire new skills, externalize a clear life stance, and develop such components of self-control system as self-evaluation, goal setting, modelling, planning, self-monitoring, and self-improvement (Lapsley & Narvaez, 2008). Knowledge gained from self-learning is assimilated and productively implemented during human lifetime, contributing to the profitability of self-learners’ organisation.
Being regarded as the highest form of cognitive activities applied to meet the needs of individuals, self-learning is associated with the considerable volitional efforts, a high degree of consciousness and organization, and admission of responsibility for their self-improvement. Self-learning emphasises control of an individual who monitors, directs, and regulates actions on goals of information acquisition, expanding expertise, and self-improvement. In particular, self-regulated learners are in the control of their academic strengths and weaknesses; they have a repertoire of strategies they appropriately apply to take up the day-to-day challenges of academic tasks. Self-learning emerges from promising deep inner motives; isolated cases of finding answers to questions of human interest under the influence of any motives cannot be regarded as deliberate self-learning. Self-learning proceeds in accordance with learners’ individual characteristics, being generated by individual initiatives; its main purposes are to improve knowledge in one or more areas of expertise and develop personal abilities. Human consciousness of the self and establishment of new objectives are the main driving forces of self-learning. Procedural aspects are especially important in the process of students’ independent acquisition of knowledge and skills. The basic forms of self-learning include studies of reputable scholarly publications on relevant themes, scientific research, participation in training seminars, expert consultations, communication with more experienced students, volunteerism in business-related activities, and so forth.
The Benefits of Self-Managed Learning
I have seriously considered my personal needs for the acquisition of additional knowledge and assessed self-learning as new prospects leading to beneficial opportunities. I am currently studying to obtain a Higher National Diploma (HND) in business; I have to combine my job performance with learning. The ultimate goal of my endeavours is to find a position of a manager relevant to my personal characteristics, experience, education, skills, and abilities. The choice of approaches and techniques, time management, self-discipline, and self-control are equally important for efficient self-learning. Time is extremely valuable when it comes to self-managed learning. Self-learners gradually gain experience in time management through their control of assignment deadlines and responsibility for time keeping (Adair & Allen, 1999; Pardey, 2007; Mackenzie & Nickerson, 2009; Rothstein & Burke, 2010). This leads to the development of time management skills and punctuality in individuals; these qualities are obligatory in contemporary businesses, specifically in managing Thorntons store (Appendix) where I am currently working. Today, “the increased popularity of distance and online learning options have created opportunities for new courses that are motivating even the most reluctant faculty to offer at least some of their programs online” (Dettori & Persico, 2011, p.7). Self-learners are in full control of time and place of their study; they are in charge of making their own decisions concerning the pressure of keeping tight schedules and meeting deadlines.
Furthermore, my personal choice of subjects allows me to design educational programmes corresponding to my interests and goals. However, one must be aware of risks associated with self-learning; the choice of preferable subjects should not lead to gaps in knowledge. Identifying priorities for subjects, it is crucial that one does not donate too much time only to those topics that interest him or her and loose motivation.
Personal and Professional Development
An audit of personal skills and competencies together with SWOT analysis are instrumental while carrying out self-evaluation. Self-evaluation or self-assessment is the primary phase of the career planning process pursued to identify personal strengths, such as professional achievements, pertinent skills, experience, and areas of expertise, as well as weaknesses. The latter can include a lack of knowledge, training or educational requirements a person needs for a specific job, and some personal characteristics. According to Whetten and Cameron (2011, p. 83), it is important to “develop a healthy core self-evaluation and positive self-regard by consciously capitalizing on your personal strengths, and by highlighting and building on your successful accomplishments.” This stage should be conducted honestly and impartially.
Audit of Personal Skills
|Knowledge and skills, which I consider to be important for my current activity||Rating of abilities
|Organising/organising work to meet deadlines|
|Training/teaching others (helping others to arrive at a decision)|
|Caring for other staff members|
|Ability to cope with difficult people|
|Speaking clearly and to the point|
|Supervising and managing others|
|Knowledge and skills, which I consider to be important for my future career as a manager||Rating of abilities
|Project management skills|
|Time management skills|
|Problem solving skills|
My Personal and Professional Development Plan
|Short-Term Time Frame||Mid-Term Time Frame||Long-Term Time Frame|
|What do I want to accomplish in the next three to 6 months?||What do I want to accomplish in the next 6 months to 2 years?||What do I want to accomplish in the next 2 to 3 years?|
My goal is to become a manager and run my own business in the later future
|To focus on completing my assignments successfully and do as much self-learning and research in my own time as it is possible||To focus on completing my HND in business the best I can||To attend training seminars, gain experience through volunteering, and eventually, find a full time position as a manager|
|To gain work experience in the business field through volunteer training at local small business practices|
Skills and knowledge to be learned
|To work on my time management skills, prioritising my time, where it is the most important||To improve my skills of being interviewed||To perfect my language skills and grammar so that I can benefit from that when I find a full time career in management|
|To work on my IT skills||To develop my skills in English grammar, reading, and English language skills in general||To continue to develop my IT skills|
|To develop my English language and grammar skills||To develop my team work skills so that I can efficiently work in a team, as well as on my own||To complete my HND|
How am I going to acquire the skills and knowledge?
How am I going to do this project?
|As well as undergoing this course in business, I am currently working part time as a manager’s assistant; this position daily teaches me new things in business. I will do this by gaining experience in the industry I am at the moment, self-learning in my spare time, and completing this course."||I am going to attend as many seminars and volunteering placements as it is possible||To apply for the most suitable jobs|
|I am going to research the companies that interest me the most and are well suited to me||To complete my studies with the best possible results|
|I am going to dedicate all my spare time to studying; I will try to complete this course successfully||To gain experience in the business market of my interest|
Resources What resources do I need?
|I need pertinent reliable sources of information to focus on the English language and grammar, information on business seminars, and self-teaching guides to improve my IT abilities and general self-learning and research skills||I need a well-planned schedule and access to online libraries to complete my assignments to the best I can, conduct comprehensive research, study pertaining software and master basic computer technology, and use my spare time for self-learning to do the best I can||I need my educators’ instructions and guidance on my journey in order to emendate the process of my self-learning so that I can be able to complete this HND business course, reach the best possible level, and find interesting and well-paid job|
What is my time schedule?
|1 to 6 months||6 months to 1 year||1 to 2 + years|
When will I start?
|Currently, in January 2014||January 2014 - September 2014||September 2014 – September 2015|
When do I expect to finish?
|January 2014||Summer 2014||Summer 2015|
When have I completed each step?
|January 2014||July 2014||Summer 2015|
Critical Evaluation of Prospects of My Plan
This personal and professional plan is designed to facilitate the process of the course completion and achievement of the ultimate goal of career growth. However, it can be modified to meet new professional requirements and adapt to changing business environments. A person during his/her lifespan participates in diverse activities, which can vary depending on the environmental conditions and individual destiny. They influence his/her personal development, broaden outlooks, extend knowledge, and improve abilities. Reviewing descriptions and requirements for various positions of a manager, I can identify new tasks. Developing professional relationships and contacting experienced educators and peer mentors, I can redesign my strategies of self-learning. In addition, to meet the extraordinary demands of the future, professionals in general and managers in particular should cultivate the new ways of thinking and new concepts of leadership. A written plan is one of the tools of time management; it disciplines and encourages me to perform scheduled tasks. Planning should be simple and flexible, corresponding to findings of precedent analyses, such as an audit of personal skills or SWOT analysis.
Interpersonal and Transferable Skills
Work-Based Problems in My Work Environment
I am a mature and hard-working woman with five-year retail experience and over ten years of office administration and stock controlling experience. I am creative, responsible, ambitious, enthusiastic, diligent, and dedicated to my work. I enjoy embracing the new challenging ideas and collaborative working environment. However, despite my friendly nature and leadership potential, sometimes I get involved in conflicts with my co-workers.
The word “conflict” originates from the Latin language; its literal translation initially meant “collision.” Irrespective of their driving forces, all conflicts are functionally inconsistent and extremely frustrating phenomena; thus, the parity of their positive and negative consequences should be comprehensively assessed so that empowered professionals can curtail their occurrence in the future. Conflicts can be induced by different reasons and circumstances such as misunderstanding, uncertainty, specific interpersonal relationships, deficiency of resources, unequal contributions of partners to business, different demographic profiles of employees, dissatisfaction of basic needs and interests of conflict participants, inadequate management, and a lot of other factors (Guerin, 2007; Rosner & Halcrow, 2011; Whetten & Cameron, 2011, p. 381). Although conflicts are the most frequently encountered anticipated workplace problems, each conflict could be prevented and should be resolved using specific methods. One should take into consideration workplace conditions, specificity of an organisation, participants, their motives, objectives, and working environments.
Working as a manager’s assistant at Thornton’s, Bluewater, and Kent, I have to run the store in the manager’s absence. I always strive to motivate the team to work hard to achieve targets and meet the needs specific to customers. However, conflict situations and clashes do occur. In order to resolve conflicts, I use different approaches to every incident, including such tactics as compromising, negotiations, cooperative problem solving, accommodating, or even playing a “good cop-bad cop” game with parties. I always try to understand the reasons of disagreements in order to find a resolution that meets the needs of both conflicting parties and overcome the crisis. Developing alternative professional scenarios, improving my psychological awareness, preventing conflicts, encouraging sale assistants and other employees, and creating supportive environment, I contribute to the profitability of Thorntons, our organization.
The Application of Effective Time Management Approaches
My ultimate objective of finding a fulltime position as a manager and current scope of self-learning activities trigger my especial attention to time management. More effective and optimal use of time leads to an increase in the quality and speed of my work responsibilities, and simultaneously, reduces stressful situations. The utilisation of time management allows me to control my spare time better and increase personal efficiency. People who know little about time management are sometimes opposed to its study and implementation in the business environment. However, time management is a constituent of contemporary managerial practices, including abilities to properly communicate with others, delegate one’s powers at the right moment, refuse employees and subordinates, prioritise tasks, and redesign activities.
Planning daily and weekly activities beforehand, I effectively organise the performance of everything arranged and do not miss important details. I always try to alternate between work and the rest activities in order to prevent exhaustion and emotional burnout. While scheduling tasks, I identify the priorities and consider their importance, complexity, costs, risks, outcomes, and urgency. Following the advice given by Mackenzie and Nickerson (2009, p.18), I jot sticky notes with tasks for the day on the edge of my computer screen. Instruments of time management have tangible advantages; they improve memory, develop self-discipline, reduce loads, and increase stress resistance because of the willingness to unforeseen situations (Adair & Allen, 1999; Pardey, 2007; Mackenzie & Nickerson, 2009; Rothstein & Burke, 2010).
I am aspiring to become a highly qualified and skillful professional. Professionalism is directly proportional to a person’s knowledge, expertise, leadership abilities, skills, accountability, and honesty. In addition, my personal characteristics, such as sociability, problem solving, benevolence, tact, readiness to assist, purposefulness, creativity, and communication skills,can significantly improve the process of transition to a position of a manager.
I fully realize complexity and scope of responsibilities related to a modern manager. Contemporary management involves an integrated system of methods, principles, means and forms of leading, planning, operating, organizing, controlling and staffing a business unit. Managers are responsible for developing and implementing corporate, competitive, and functional strategies (Robbins & Coulter, 2010, p. 228). A manager is a professional who coordinates and oversees “the work activities of” employees (Robbins & Coulter, 2010, p. 8), makes organization-wide decisions, determines plans and objectives, and bears responsibility for their implementation. A manager is an expert in the field of administrative activities. A manager’s abilities to use a flexible and rational approach to a business unit’s personnel, provide optimal solutions to any issue, successfully manipulate financial, natural, human, and technological resources of a company are the major criteria of his or her efficient performance.
A managerial process consists of four interconnected functions: planning, organizing, leading, and supervising. While planning, managers determine objectives, select and establish strategies, and develop plans. The function of organizing involves structuring and arranging work, specifying tasks, and determining responsibilities. The function of leading is aimed at training and motivating personnel to accomplish objectives of their organisation. Supervision, another important function of management, includes monitoring, evaluating, and correcting all activities performed by an organisation. In order to become an effective manager, I should gain knowledge of information technology, psychology, and collaboration with others. Insufficient computer skills can become an obstacle to utilization of innovative methods of business performance and my communication with partners, employees, and customers. The process of strategic planning is an obligatory stage of a new career path. Taking into consideration my strengths and weaknesses, the major goals for the next years have been established: to complete the HND course, acquire necessary skills, and develop new abilities in order to get a position of a manager. To achieve these goals, specific objectives should be accomplished in accordance with my plan of personal and professional development. Designing a plan of personal and professional development, I am able to successfully combine self-learning and work responsibilities. This plan is developed to facilitate the process of my adaptation to the process of self-learning and new professional requirements.