Personal effectiveness is a desirable attribute for an individual in all professionals. This is because, through this attribute, a person can capitalize on their strengths and hence become more productive for the good of the entire organization. Efficiency is especially desirable in the IT field where skills such as team building, assertiveness, and effective decision making among others are held in high regard. While some people possess all of these skills naturally, others do not. However, a person can be equipped to develop these skills and therefore increase their effectiveness. The first step to this is identifying the skills that one lacks or could improve on. Through this Action plan, I will identify my strengths and weaknesses on several transferable skills and develop an action plan which will highlight how I intend to improve on all the skills.
Areas of Weakness
Communication is arguably the cornerstone on which any successful relationship, be it business or personal, is built. The importance of effective communication is universally acknowledged and people are constantly striving to improve their communication skills (Adair 23). In the IT industry, presentations play a huge part for it is through this that one communicates ideas to a wide range of audiences. Through presentation, a person can seek support for a project, explain specific attributes of a project and even demonstrate progress in a task. Currently, my presentation skills are average. My effectiveness is therefore not as great as it could be if I was fully competent in presenting.
In an organizational context, decision-making is one of the most important activities. Mintzberg regards the most crucial part of the managerial activity as that concerned with making a decision (Pugh and Hickson 44). While I do possess good decision-making skills, I tend to worry too much about the small details which results in my taking too much time making decisions. In addition to this, I do not always look at the entire picture when making a decision. I am also highly structured which may be a problem when flexibility is required. This means that my work will suffer when innovation is required since innovative ideas mostly come from being unstructured and open-minded. I am also bound to get frustrated by ambiguous situations or in scenarios where specific guidelines are unavailable.
Acting assertively is of great importance since it empowers one to express their opinion openly and honestly all the while respecting the feedback received from others (Bedell and Lennox 23). A major drawback that I face is that tend to worry about small things and am generally anxious. This attribute will greatly impede my role as a leader since a leader is supposed to be sure and exude confidence to the rest of the group. Another setback is that I do not always communicate assertively. While I make a point to follow through with plans and ensure that they have been carried out to perfection, I am not good at confronting others in the group since I am not asserting.
Team building and being a team player
Present-day IT projects are often very large and the context of the team is unavoidable. Therefore, while individual effort is necessary, his/her interaction with other members of the team is crucial. IT projects require high levels of skills and team working to produce desired results. Being able to function in a team is not only desirable but mandatory for the success of the team. In team operations, contentious issues which elicit differing reactions from the members of the group are bound to arise (Sashkin 59). These issues have to be diffused diplomatically if the group is to survive and succeed in its projects. While I get along well with my group members and accept constructive criticism, I have a habit of dominating group discussions. I sometimes find ways to make the group discussion centered on my issues or interests. Shishkin rightfully declares that the group process is about sharing and responding to ideas, not about taking over (87). When one member of the group dominates; the group process suffers since dominance is accompanied by aggressive and territorial behavior. Having a member dominate can easily derail the group from important issues as the issues of concern to the dominant member are addressed.
Effective Time Management
Time is a valuable asset in one’s life and proper management is mandatory for success. At the present, my time management skills are average and as such, I need to undertake steps to improve them. A habit I have noticed is that I am mostly concerned with doing things perfectly no matter how long this takes. This means that I end up using time that was meant for other activities on one activity. My overall productivity is therefore affected by my poor time management skills.
McLoughlin asserts that learning refers to the content of a thought or to what we learned, learning styles explicitly refers to how we have learned it” (230). It is widely agreed by educators all over the world that students who actively engage in the learning process are likely to achieve greater success. The Learning Styles questionnaire brought to my attention several important issues. The questionnaire illustrated that my learning style is mostly Pragmatist. Pragmatists learn best in instances where the link between the learning activities is obvious to a real-life situation. As a pragmatist learner, my learning efforts are therefore reduced when I cannot relate the subject matter to an immediate need.
As it can be seen, I currently face a set of challenges about my effectiveness. These challenges will negatively impact my ability as an IT professional. Therefore, having identified the areas where I need to make improvements, it is necessary to come up with a well-defined plan which will demonstrate how I will go about improving my skills.
Plans to Overcome Weaknesses
As noted in the report, I have significant issues in making good presentations. I have therefore come up with several plans which should help improve my presentation competence. To begin with, intend to undertake classes to improve my presentation skills. At the present, I have begun making use of various websites which have presentation tips. From this, it has come to my attention that knowing the various needs of one’s audience results in better presentations. I, therefore, plan to make a habit of researching the needs of my audience. This will make it easier to communicate with a diverse audience more effectively. I will also research the various channels of communication that are most effective with a particular audience.
Effective decision making
The importance of effective decision-making cannot be overstated in all organizations. My decision-making ability is greatly inhibited by the fact that I worry too much about small things. As such, I will work on looking at the bigger picture first and letting the small details be secondary. To overcome my inflexibility, I can make a conscious effort to use unconventional means to get my work done. This will be through experimenting with new methods and trying out activities that I would naturally not engage in.
I plan to undertake assertive training to become more effective in my communication. Assertive communication is based on the understanding that we all have a right to be afforded respect and we also bear the responsibility to reciprocate this respectfulness to others. Weiten et al. stipulate that one of the objectives of assertive training is to help people decrease their anxiety levels (23). Once the anxiety in a person has been reduced, one is more likely to demonstrate positive communication traits such as improved eye contact. Nonproductive behavior such as drumming one’s fingers on the table or playing with hands can also be eliminated. This will greatly assist in my communication efforts since I will be able to come across as a person who is both interested in what is being said and confident of what he is saying.
Team building and being a team player
The most major setback in my team-building skills is that I lack effective crises management skills. In light of this, I plan to develop my diplomatic skills which will involve learning how to use power and authority carefully to achieve positive outcomes by being unanimous or arriving at a consensus (London, 2002). I will become conversant with various negotiating methods that are used. In particular, I will learn how to use the two major negotiating approaches: competition or collaboration. Competition is based on opposition interests and by the end of the process; there is a definite winner and a loser. The collaborative is based on common interests and therefore yields a win-win outcome for parties involved.
Team building requires a person to possess some leadership skills and abilities. By definition, leadership is the process where one person uses the help and support of others to reach desirable goals. There are various traits and skills which are necessary for a person to be an effective leader. I will work on my interpersonal skills to increase my team-building abilities. Pugh and Hickson (2007, p.44) state that effective interpersonal skills enable an individual to bring together the needs of an organization and those of the individuals under their command. This is because for a person to be effective in an organization, they have to sell their ideas to others and ensure that they are involved in the ideas and concepts advanced.
Effective Time Management
The first thing that I will do is make it a habit to develop a timetable that will detail all the activities that I intend to undertake. I will ensure that each activity only takes the amount allocated in the timetable. Other tasks will therefore not suffer from my paying too much attention to one task.
My learning style
My learning style makes me value those activities whose relevance to me is obvious and immediate. To counter this, I will make an effort to perform additional research on each topic to see its link to real-world situations. Doing this will ensure that I develop a great interest in all the class activities that I take part in.
The information that I gained from the exercise provided me with invaluable insights as to my strengths and weaknesses. From these insights, I can take up steps to reduce my weakness and therefore improve on my effectiveness. This will increase my competence in the workplace setting, therefore, making me an invaluable asset to the IT industry.
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Bedell, Jeffrey and Lennox Shelley. Handbook for Communication and Problem-solving Skills Training: a Cognitive-behavioral Approach. Los Angeles: John Wiley and Sons, 1997. Print.
London, Manuel. Leadership Development: Paths to Self-insight and Professional Growth. USA: Routledge, 2002. Print.
McLoughlin. Catherine. “The Implications of the Research Literature on Learning Styles for the Design of Instructional Material”. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 15(3), 222-241, 1999.
Pugh, Derek and Hickson David. Great writers on organization. NY: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2007. Print.
Sashkin, Marshal. Leadership that matters: the critical factors for making a difference in people’s lives and organizations’ success. California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2003. Print.
Weiten Margaret et al. Psychology Applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century. LA: Cengage Learning. 2008. Print.