Reflective portfolio

Executive summarize

In this self evaluating report the main task is to evaluate the progress achieved during this term and to determinate in which skills I need to work the most to make an improvement. It is mainly base on my personal skills development and theories learned during the seminars and lectures, I will do an analysis of my strengths and weaknesses, for that I am doing a SWOT analysis, a future skills development program and how I am going to achieved it, As supporting evidence I am going to attach in-class works and exercises done through out the semester.

Introduction

During the term I have had the opportunity to improve and learned interpersonal skills that are essential for what managers are looking now days in graduate students.

For this self analysis report I have chosen the skills that I think are the ones I have improve the most and the ones in which I need to work more, these are:

  • Strengths; Good communication and writing skills and good group working skills
  • Weaknesses; Bad time management and poor knowledge in the use of IT
  • Opportunities; Improve my leadership skills in group works, my time management, career management and my IT knowledge
  • Threats: Having difficulties with my communication or writing skills because English is my second language, have disagreements with group members

Learning reflection throughout the term and skills performance

Throughout the term and especially at this module I have been encouraged by my seminars leaders to improve my interpersonal skills by doing many different activities. I feel that the skills that I have improved the most are my communication, writing skills and my group working skills.

  • Communication skills

I believe this skill is one of the most important skills that a person need to have in today’s employability market because this is the principal method we use to communicate with each other, ‘Talking and Listening” are consider as essential interpersonal skills that graduates should have according to QAA key skill list [2009].

I have improve this skill through out the term by doing presentations at the different course modules, for example the ICT presentation, where me and my partner were asked to advised a small company if it was convenient for them to put their business online and we had to give a formal presentation in front of the class, in other modules such as Theory and practice of business we are going to have a group presentation about our result on our “fancy share portfolio” and at Interpersonal skills for business module we had to do a group presentation about an activity that was called ‘ISLAND ESCAPE: ISLAND SURVEY’ were we were asked to convinced the audience or ‘ISLAND SURVIVERS’ that our island was the best choice for coming to live at.

  • Writing skills

This is another point in which I have improved since I started the term.

The main reasons for my personal improvement I think are; the reports and course works I have had to write for the different modules, for example the Electronic portfolio, for interpersonal skills and ‘innocent’ report for theory and practice for business, I have being able to achieve this with the recommendation given throughout the lectures and also with the information that is in the module book [Second edition, Chapter 9] where I could find:

  1. The four distinct stages for writing any type of report
  2. Types of report
  3. Terms of reference
  4. Researching and organizing the source material

In this skill the main improvements I have made are; learning the difference types of data which are: “Source material” and “Diagramming”, according to Saunders et al. (2003), “Source material is the data that you will use to support your key points and provide evidence to support your recommendations”. And according to Buzan (1995), “Diagramming is a useful technique for abstract the main themes from the detailed background information”, and also how to do a correct reference and bibliography.

  • Group working
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Throughout the term I have had the chance to improved my group-work skill at all the modules, this skill is now is being considered as one of the most important factors for business development, as ACAS, [April, 2003] has point out “To remain competitive organizations need to make and optimum use of equipment and people if they are to thrive or even survive…In general sense people talk of team work when they want to emphasize the virtues of co-operation and the need to make use of the various strengths of employees”.

This skill was mainly develop at this module throughout different activities for example, the ‘ISLAND ESCAPE’, and the ‘BOARD GAME’ and the ‘NASA exercise’.

At other modules we also had the opportunity to improve our group-work skills for example the theory and practice ‘SHARE PORTFOLIO’ was done in groups of 5 to 6 people and all the group members had to decide how we were going to invest the money, in this activity many people had disagreements and some times it delay the entire group performance, one analysis we learned in the lecture and that is used to analyze the group behavior according to their results is the “Interaction analysis” it was develop from the work of Bales, [1950] and the principle of this analysis is “to describe the group process and indications of factors influencing the process of it”.

The main thing that make all of us improved in our group work skill at this module was that we did not have the chance to choose our groups so for every different activity we had to work with different people and that make us have to take different roles at each group-activity, according to Belbin, [1981], “Groups that are composed by entirely of cleaver people, or of people with similar personalities, display a number of negatives results and lack of creativity”, in general group working make us improve our communication skill with other people because we had to expressed our ideas and also listen to others peoples ideas, some studies have demonstrate that there are five main types of communication networks between group members which are; “Wheel, Circle, All-channel, Y and Chain”, this researches was done by Bavelas, [1951] and studied by Leavitt. [1958].

  • Time management

This skill is not one of the strongest skill that I have but I have being working on to improved it for example I did the time management action plan, were I was able to find were I loss most of my time and what unnecessary activities I did during the day, and since then I have being able to organize better my time and give it a better used, one positive thing I have manage to do is that throughout the semester I have not miss any death.

  • IT skills

For me this is one of the skills in which I need to work the most because in this century everybody needs to know how to used and work with IT, also a large amount of work places this days requires you have IT knowledge for qualifying for the job, also as Belbin, [1951] said in her theory about “Team roles” there are some roles that are different from the nine-roles key roles she that where needed in a team she called them “Functional Roles” because for these roles members are chosen for their experience and specialize knowledge, one example is IT knowledge.

For improving on this skill I received lectures and seminars about the correct used of excel, power point and even word in the ICT module, also using blackboard and submitting works through it had make me feel more comfortable with the use of computer programs and electronic academic tools.

  • Leadership skills
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During the activities that we did during the term we had the opportunity to developed our leadership skills when working in groups, as we learned at the lectures and seminars there are a lot of different types of leadership, according to the “Managerial Grid Questionnaire” that we did in at the seminar my leadership style is “Team Leader”, Black & Mouton (1964).

Being a leader for me is not only to make other people do what I said, is to earn their respect, in other words is that the people must accepted; the other persons ideas or what he is offering and voluntarily decided to follow him as his leader. According to the module book there are two different approaches for the study of leadership; one is the “Descriptive approach” and the second one “Functional approach”, [Module book, unknown author, page 251], the Descriptive approach focus on “whether a leader is a special type of person or whether there is a most appropriate style for a leader to adopt” and the Functional approach according to Bower and Seahore’s, (1966), “Leadership is behavior that results in a difference in the behaviors of others”.

One theory that is being used for leadership training in the Industrial society, (Module book, page 252), is the “Action-centred theory of leadership”, John Adair [1984]

It consists in three sets of interrelated needs, that increase the three functions a leader must have;

  1. The task related function
  2. The team related function
  3. The individually oriented function

As a result it recognizes how these three areas affect each others in terms of group performance.

In management most of the times leaders are not choose by the people it normally is someone that posses a higher rank in the organization, this is known as a “Headship who is someone that has a formal authority over its subordinates”, [Module book, page 254], according to Kotter, [1990], “Is far more realistic to regard management and leadership as two complementary activities, each one having its own unique function”.

During the group activities we did during the term we were able to find that all of has different types of leaders each one with its own characteristic, positive and negative aspects, our leadership types are based on Lewin et al. [1939],study that divided them in three categories:

  • Autocratic leader
  • Democratic leader
  • Laissez-faire leader

Conclusion

During my time at the University of Westminster I have had the chance to develop and improve my interpersonal skills, knowing that now days this skills are what employers are looking for when they are planning to hire someone makes me think about the importance of develop, learn and practice those skills more.

Interpersonal skills are really useful not only for business practice bur also for every day activity. We do not realize how often we use these skills in our daily life and how helpful they can be if we applied them well, for example time management it would help us to improve it and decrease the amount of time we waste, another skill that is very necessary in any kind of situation is communication skill, because we are always needing to express our thought or ideas to other people and if we do not know how to expressed our self correctly, specially when you are giving a first impression to an audience or to a person you are not going to be able to delivered our message correctly and the receiver of our message will not be able to understand what we are trying to said.

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Other skills such as leadership and team working are essential when working as member of a group, because if you do not know how to manage different situation the final work result is going to be very poor, and also these skills are very important for employers because they want someone that is able to adapt in different groups and that is able to perform different roles in those groups.

Specialized skills such as IT or essential skills such as writing skills are also very important, specialized skills gives you more opportunities when searching for a job and essential skills are important because those are the skills that managers are looking for in their future employees.

Recommendations

There are some skills that I have already mention before but I considered that I have the opportunity to work more on them and be able to improve these essential skills which are:

  • Management

As I already said time management and particularly punctuality is something I feel I need to improve because is one of the first impressions that you give to a person, as Goffman, [1959], said on in his self presentation theory, and particular on first impressions, “The opening impression we give is not just and impression of what kind of person we are, it also conveys our definition of the situation… Each individual entering a conversation projects by dress, manner, and opening remarks proposal for what the basis of the interaction shall be”, for example arriving late for a business meeting will probably make you loose the job or at least loosing the appointment, for that I would have to focus more in the starting hour of the activity and planned better my time so in that way I will arrive on time, specially to my lectures and seminars.

Planning my career path is another area in which I have to work because as I am not sure what I am going to do after I graduate, until now I have decided to do an internal transfer from business management to a combined degree of Economics and socio legal studies. I will manage to decide during the two years that I have left which path I am going to follow after getting my degree and where I will continue my studies.

  • IT knowledge

The best way to improved in this area is by taking modules that are related with it, for example next semester I am taking a module call ‘essential data analysis’ and by doing home study and personal researches.

For succeeding on my future plans development I not only have to improved the areas in which I have the opportunity to do it but also I need to pay attention to external factors that might delay my improvements, which could be:

English as a second language

As English is not my first language I think these might become a problem when writing reports or essays and when doing oral presentations it might not go along well because I might not know how to express some idea, but I think as I get more English practice this will not be a problem.

Group disagreements

When working on groups sometimes you might have the opportunity to work with people that you get along with but some other times you might find yourself in a group that does not work well together or everybody is trying to get individual recognition so at the end the result will be unsuccessful, I think the way to improve this is by focus on the work, and leave individual problems outside the group, also by to developing our own personal type of leadership according to the different theories we have learned is going to ne easier to everyone to adapt to different groups and become a member of it.


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