A Personal Development Plan (PDP) is cited in literature as a key step in defining and exploring one’s goals, and mapping out ways of turning the same goals into reality.
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The Keynote Project (2002, p. 1) for example observes that students can use PDP to articulate the skills they are developing in the present and match the same to “opportunities in the future”.
Cassidy (2012, p. 1) provides a more succinct definition of PDP by terming it a “form of self-managed learning that is owned by the individual and enables a strategic approach to setting learning and development goals”.
In an educational setup, it would be expected that PDPs will enable students to receive feedback that will assist them in their personal and professional development, and benefit them with the feedback provided by their tutors.
In this writer’s case, PDP will be used as a tool for managing own development. Additionally, the PDP as articulated hereunder will provide this writer with an opportunity to expand on own personal, academic and professional horizons.
In other words, this exercise provides this writer with an opportunity to take stock of own position; set goals; and use the unique skills and competencies in the academic as well as the professional setup now and in the future.
Additionally, the writer will identify areas that need more effort, and as such, will intentionally pay more effort in such areas in future in order to become effective in present or future roles.
Overall, it has been suggested that PDP is important for people who need (or are forced by circumstances) to take responsibility of “their own development and follow-through” with the same (Cassidy 2012, p. 1).
Interpreted, the aforementioned means that every learner needs to use PDP not only because higher learning requires a degree of independent learner-directed learning, but also because it helps the students to identify what their learning needs are, and thus work towards fulfilling the same.
Acculturation has been has defined as “a dual process affecting members of two or more cultural groups as each adapts to the presence of the other” (Barjesteh & Vaseghi 2012, p. 579).
In higher learning, acculturation has become a commonplace thing as students from different cultures meet in the college environment each in the pursuit of an education.
Foreign (international) students interact with students from the host country and the first-hand contact between the two groups of students eventually means that the original cultures of either side are affected.
Notably, acculturation is important in group or team dynamics since members need not only get a task done, but also need to work well together as suggested by Tidd, Bessant and Pavitt (2005, p.1). Without students understanding and respecting each other’s cultural differences, chances are that team work would not be successful.
Barjesteh and Vaseghi (2012, p. 580) name language shock and culture shock as main factors that contribute to psychological distance among international students.
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Language is especially important for such students because as Schumann (1986, p. 385) notes, verbal interactions enable communication and negotiations among people from different cultures.
Trawinski (2005, p. 14) further notes that the ability of a learner to benefit from academic input depends on their ability to understand and convert materials taught in class (most likely in a second acquired language) into meaningful information.
For such students to benefit from course materials, Trawnski (2005, p. 18) argues that the communicative, integrative and expressive functions of language have to be efficient from both sides of the message divide (i.e. the message sender and the message recipient).
This writer went through the full course of “the process of acculturation” as defined by Brown (1980 cited by Barjesteh & Vaseghi 2012, p. 580). Specifically, the writer underwent the euphoria stage where excitement took precedence owing to the newness of the college environment.
Next was the culture shock stage where the writer felt a sense of intrusion as the reality of the new surroundings, cultural differences and the loss of familiar signs and social symbols as suggested by Yue and Le (2012, p.134) started becoming a reality.
Cultural stress then took over and during this phase, the writer started a gradual recovery of self-identity also understanding, accepting and being accepted by others.
By the time of this exercise, this writer has attained full recovery as suggested by Barjesteh & Vaseghi (2012, p. 580) whereby, the writer has adopted, assimilated and accepted the new culture. Additionally, this writer has developed a new identity, which arguably fits well into the college environment.
The full recovery stage is especially essential in learning since this writer can now comprehend different types of communication in the host culture; however, the writer is still working on his verbal communication skills as indicated in the Skills Audit Report in Appendix A.
The verbal communication skills are especially important in teamwork since they affect the writer’s ability to take up leadership position, his presentation skills, and his ability to communicate effectively with the team members.
True to Lakey (2003, p. 111), people from diverse cultures “successfully acculturate themselves to the degree that they learn to code and decode messages in a way that they will be recognised, accepted, and responded to by an individual or group which they interact”; and while this writer can confidently state that he has been successful in decoding messages communicated to him, coding his messages in a manner that enables effective communication to his colleagues is still something that he is working towards.
Team work and presentation skills
Based on the Belbin’ Team roles personal inventory as illustrated in Appendix B, this writer scored highest in IM (Company worker/implementer) by acquiring 14 points, and in PL (Plant) by acquiring 9 points.
Following Belbin’s (1993) roles on the corresponding individual types, it is thus apparent that the writer’s positive abilities include self-discipline, hard-work, practical commonsense, and the ability to organise.
The corresponding allowable weaknesses indicate that the writer lacks flexibility, and is unresponsive to “new or unproven ideas” (Belbin 1993, n.pag).
The high score in PL (Plant) are further indicative that the writer has additional positive qualities that include knowledge, intellect and imagination. The corresponding allowable weaknesses as indicated by Belbin include an inclination to pay no or little attention to practical details and/or protocol.
As indicated in the Skills Audit Report (Appendix A), this writer’s main weaknesses are in leadership, presentation skills, and in verbal communication.
In the writer’s own perspective, the three weaknesses as interrelated owing to the fact that the inability to communicate effectively affects his presentation skills, and this invariably dents his confidence towards being a capable leader.
As indicated in Appendix A however, the writer seeks to improve his verbal communication skills, and this will directly affect the presentation and leadership skills as well.
Reports and Academic Journal Comparisons
Despite the weaknesses noted above, and the indication that this writer is best suited as a company worker/implementer and plant position, it is common knowledge that finding a “perfect” person is impossible in real life.
As such, the writers’ strengths and weaknesses although creating the impression of an imperfect learner/job applicant, also indicate that this writer’s qualities of being organised, knowledgeable and meticulous make him an ideal candidate for a team where all the nine skills as indicated in the Belbin model are necessary.
Team-based management systems are increasingly considered necessary for enhancing the productivity and effectiveness in organisation as indicated by Gündüz (2008, p. 460), Partington and Harris (1993, p. 694) and Katzenbach and Smith (1993, p. 111).
Similarly, and upon entering the postgraduate programs, and on proceeding further to the professional environment, this writer expects to be part of bigger teams as working alone in the current team-based workplace environments is to some extent, outdated.
A team is defined as the “small group of people who make contributions to the common goal, who perform in accordance with the goals, who depend on each other with the mutual feeling of responsibility and who have complementary skills” (Gündüz 2008, p. 461).
In other words, this writer’s skills would need to compliment those of his team mates for purposes of attaining a common goal. The team roles of the writer as indicated in Appendix B “describes how suitable the member is for the team” as indicated by Belbin (2010, p.120).
On their part, Fisher, Hunter and Macrosson (1998, p. 284) observe that team roles as stipulated in the Belbin Model should be used universally (even outside management teams).
Notably however, Aritzeta, Swailes and Senior (2005, p. 20) observe that “Belbin did not report the theoretical foundations of his theory”, and as such, the theory has a limitation. Some critics like Broucek and Randel (1996, p. 403) further argue that the Belbin model is based on an anecdote.
Despite the omission of not basing his model on any theoretical ground, Aritzeta et al. (2005, p. 21) observes that the empirical formulation of Belbin’s work can still be linked to established theories.
Among authors who support the Belbin Model are Fisher et al. (1998, p. 284) who observe that although there are dominant team roles for each individual, it does not mean that he/she cannot play other team roles.
The major factors that determine the roles that a person can play in a team include their intelligence, extroversion or introversion, stability or anxiety, and dominance or lack thereof (Fisher et al., 1998, p.285).
The aforementioned factors affect how teams interact, and their level of productivity, while team roles obtain the balance needed for team members to work harmoniously and productively.
Notably, and as indicated in the Skills Audit Report, this writer still needs to work on his verbal communication skills, his leadership skills, and his presentation skills if his contributions to a team will be realized.
Without the finding a solution to the three weak areas, this writer acknowledges that the team roles of being an implementer or a plant that generates ideas through imagination or innovation, cannot be realized without the appropriate communication skills.
Personal Planning and Action Plan
The requirement of this writer’s role as a team player
In the global environment where this writer (and others) lives in, it would be expected that working in teams would expose one to people from different cultures.
In the management field therefore, it is essential for this writer to concentrate on finding solutions to the three weak areas identified in the Skills Audit Report (Appendix A), and finding ways to overcome the threats identified in the SWOT analysis report (Appendix C).
In the latter, this writer identified homesickness and the global competition in the workplace as the main threats.
To overcome them, this writer will therefore need to gain skills and knowledge that will give him a competitive edge over others (i.e. in case of the global competition), and will also need to find ways of overcoming the homesickness (e.g. by calling friends and families) often.
This writer will also need to find solutions to the major weaknesses facing him and intends to do the following in order of sequence:
- Become a better communicator
- Become better in presenting ideas and innovations
- Become a leader
As indicated in the Skills Audit Report (Appendix A), this writer’s main strengths include time management skills, self-motivation, and the ability to work well in teams.
The writer’s strengths are further evident in the Skills, Knowledge and Attitude (SKA Analysis) (Appendix D), where time management, office skills, decision-making skills, and flexibility are his skills strong point.
Additionally, this writer is knowledgeable in researching and has experience working in his specialty.
Attitude-wise, this writer is a realist and as shown in Appendix E (Learning Style Questionnaire), the writer has three dominant learning styles namely activist, reflector and theorist. On self-evaluation though, this writer is more convinced that the reflector and theorist learning styles are more applicable in his case.
- A SMART action plan
Specific goal: To be a better communicator, presenter of ideas and innovations, and a leader in the next two years.
Measurable: To communicate eloquently in the English language; to make presentations to my peers in college and colleagues in the workplace; and to assume emergent leadership positions in college and/or in the workplace.
Attainable: Practice my communication skills more alone or with the help of a privately acquired tutor; practice my presentation skills with a friend with the view of perfecting them in readiness for a bigger audience; and vie for leadership positions in college and/or in the workplace.
Relevance: The goals are meant to counter the weaknesses identified in the Skills Audit Report indicated in appendix A.
|Activity||Time Length||Measurable Milestones||Enabling factors|
|Improve verbal communication skills||6 months||Ability to communicate eloquently||A budget to acquire a private tutor to help with the verbal communication skills; time; and motivation to learn|
|Enhance presentation skills||6 -12 months||Ability to make informative and attention-capturing presentations; eliciting audience response thus indicating effective communication||A willing colleague/friend to act as an audience, and one who will be willing to comment and criticise where necessary.|
|Become a leader||12 months||Vying for leadership positions and getting support for the same as a sign of people’s confidence in this writer’s leadership abilities||The availability of leadership positions; writer’s leadership potential and its appeal to other people in the college or organisational setup.|
Conclusions and Reflection
As inferred in the above sections, this writer is not only studying in a culture that is different from his own, but is also likely to continue with the same working in the global environment where people from different cultures meet to work for same organisations.
As such, as one who intends to obtain a leadership position in future, this writer realises the need not only to understand what is communicated to him, but also to communicate efficiently to others.
It is for such reasons that this writer identifies the inadequate verbal communications skills, the inadequate presentation skills, and the lack of leadership skills as the three main weaknesses that he needs to improve on.
Notably, and as indicated elsewhere in this PDP, an improvement in one (i.e. verbal communication) will probably have an undeniable effect on the other two, since this writer has the knowledge in his area of specialty, with his main hindrance being in his inability to communicate effectively.
As a realist, this writer acknowledges that the vision to become a leader can only be attained after successfully becoming a better communicator and an adept presenter of ideas and innovations.
After all, leadership is earned, and such can only happen if one is clearly understood and supported by others. Additionally, leaders commune the mission and vision to their followers, something that would not happen if one is not able to communicate effectively.
Aritzeta, A, Swailes, S & Senior, B 2005, ‘Team roles: psychometric evidence, construct validity and team building’, Research Memorandum- Centre for Management and Organizational Learning, Business School, University of Hull, no. 51, pp. 1-39. Web.
Barjesteh, H & Vaseghi, R 2012, ‘Acculturation model for L2 acquisition: review and evaluation’, Advances in Asian Social Science (AASS), vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 579-584.
Belbin, R. M 1993, Team roles at work, Elsevier, London.
Belbin, R. M 2010, The management of teams- Why they succeed or fail, Routledge, London; New York.
Broucek, W. G & Randell, G 1996, ‘An assessment of construct validity of the Belbin self-perception inventory and observer’s assessment from the perspective of the five-factor model’, Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, vol. 69, pp. 389-405.
Cassidy, C 2012, ‘(b) Personal development Plan’, Appendix_3b. Web.
Fisher, S, Hunter, T & Mackrosson, W 1998, ‘The structure of Belbin’s team roles’, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, vol. 71, pp. 283-288.
Gündüz, H. B (2008), ‘An evaluation on Belbin’s team roles theory (the case of Sakarya Anatolian profession High School, Profession High School and Vocational High School for Industry)’, World Applied Sciences Journal, vol.4, no. 3, pp. 460-469.
Katzenbach, J. R & Smith, K 1993, ‘The discipline of teams’, Harvard Business Review, March-April, pp. 11-120.
Lakey, P. N 2003, ‘Acculturation: a review of the literature’, Intercultural Communication Studies, Vol. XII, No. 2, PP. 103-118.
Partington, D & Harris, H 1999, ‘Team role balance and team performance: an empirical study’, Journal of Management Development, vol. 18, no.8, pp. 694-705.
Schumann, J. H 1986, Research on acculturation model for L2 acquisition, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol.7, pp. 379-397.
The Keynote Project 2002, ‘Personal development planning guide’, The Nottingham Trent University. Web.
Tidd, J, Bessant, J & Pavitt, K 2005, ‘managing innovation- team building tools’. Web.
Trawinski, M 2005, An outline of second language acquisition theories, Academic Pedagogic, Krakow.
Yue, Y & Le, Q 2012, ‘From “cultural shock” to “ABC framework”: Development of intercultural contact theory’, International Journal of Innovative Interdisciplinary Research, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 133-141.
Appendix A: Skills Audit Report (.pdf file)
Appendix B: Team Roles Personal Inventory (.pdf file)
Appendix C: SWOT analysis
|Strengths: ||Weaknesses: |
|Opportunities: ||Threats: |
Appendix D: S.K.A analysis
|Skills :|| |
|Knowledge :|| |