How you access yourself in order to become more self-aware and how you reflect on your career on an ongoing basis is of utmost importance to ensure a successful personal development plan is followed continuously. In the current day and age most managers find it very difficult to set time aside for proper reflection and to spend some quality time putting development plans in place to ensure constant personal growth and development. Some of the key questions a typical manager will have to answer is how to find a balance between work, family life and personal development, or what would be the best models and tools currently available to assist him or herself to enable optimum personal growth. Another question would be how to apply these tools optimally based on your current circumstances. In this assessment I will attempt to address some of these questions, however, I do think that some of the proposals that I will put forward will have to be reviewed on an ongoing bases. This is to ensure it stays aligned with my ever evolving understanding of self-development.
2. Reflection and the way forward
2.1 Reflecting on personal development
If I have to reflect back on my career it is clear that I have reached a key moment in my life about three years ago when I hit a ceiling as a subject matter expert. I also realised that I do not have sufficient management experience to make a smooth transition from a subject matter expert to a senior manager. I have reached this ceiling because I have exhausted all possible promotion options. The only way ‘forward’ for me was sidewards. The first question that came to mind was how do I change this conundrum and where do I go from here? I embarked on an MBA at Henley business school without a scientific approach in the hope that it will provide some answers. Fortunately we were exposed early on to tools and models to assist us.
I used the Strategic Analysis diagram developed by Prof. Marc Day (2013) to determine which model will be the best suited for my current situation. I decided that the Force Field Analysis model developed by Lewin, K (1952) was the best fit. The reason is because I mainly need to improve my capability to become a better manager, or rather to refine my capabilities, to become a better manager. It also lies close to the Competition quadrant within a firm. This is also very applicable because of the severe competition when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. Refer to figure 2.1 for details.
The first question that now comes to mind is how do I eliminate the opposing forces in order to move from my current state to my desired state. Another question would be how can I best utilise my learning style to speed up the transition? I evaluated these opposing forces and have identified some of them that are more tangible and easier to manage. * Is an MBA the right vehicle or choice for me?
I have the highest preference for the Monitor Evaluator team role according to the Belbin Team Role Report (Belbin, 2012) compiled by Henley Business School (2013). This, in short, means that I can often judge accurately, however, I sometimes lack drive. I currently have more confidence that the MBA is probably the right decision because I have the ability to judge accurately, according to Belbin, however, it will remain an open ended question that will only be answered in due time. The MBA is also a formal program. This will hopefully provide the drive I lack from time to time and the motivation I need to complete my studies.
I am also Pragmatist (AE) according to Kolb (1985). Honey & Mumford (2000) commented that Pragmatists like to see how learning is put into practice in the real world. This also supports my decision to join the formal Henley MBA program because all the case studies are real and theory will thus be applied into practice in real world scenarios. I therefore think that I have made the right decision to decide on an MBA as my education vehicle of choice. In doing so I have definitely weakened one of the opposing forces. * Impact on my personal life, my career and my family
I realise that completing an MBA will require serious commitment and will definitely impact my family, my career and my personal life. My wife and children realise that I have reached a dead end in my career and that I will have to do something extra ordinary to change direction. They have also committed to support me from day one because they know that my despondency about my work will eventually rub off on our marriage and family life. We also realise that it is still early days and that the real challenges lie ahead. I am, therefore, convinced that this is an opposing force that I can manage down in order to weaken it. These two are also the most prominent opposing forces, so it will have a major effect on the outcome if they are managed properly. * Financial Constraints
This constraint is one of the few that are not really manageable, however, I have arranged with Henley Business School to pay the tuition fees in payments. This will definitely assist me and it will also weaken the opposing force. * Networking ability
My ability to network is still an ongoing constraint. I will address this developing need in the next sessions.
2.2 Reflect on recent career
I used the Henley Team Working Questionnaire (2010) to reflect on my recent career in order to establish a fit (or lack thereof) between me as a manager / team leader and my role within my organization. I realize that this is not an assessment tool of my current job, but rather a tool to be used to asses my current need of learning in going forward. This has highlighted a few areas that require development. These areas might also be the reason for the misalignment/misfit between my current career expectation and my progression within my organization. I have always realized that I have areas in need of development, hence my decision to start my Henley MBA. The Henley Team Working Questionnaire has assisted me a great deal in identifying those areas. I have used the Henley Star (Henley Business School, 2011), as part of this assignment, to assist me in analysing my most important development areas.
The area that has come out on top was my development need to demonstrate impact and to influence others. I currently have a lot of questions that are still unanswered. I hope to get a better understanding of exactly how to approach it and how to address them in order to ensure a successful outcome. I will spend more time on how I plan to address these questions in the next section. For now it is important that I have a starting point for my own personal development in order to improve my current fit. I have also completed chapter 5 of the textbook provided, A Manager’s Guide to Self Development (Pedler, M, Burgoyne, J & Boydell, T, 2007: 27). This has also indicated that I need to develop my creativity as well as my command of the basic facts in my company.
2.3 Planning ahead
The key question at this stage is how would I go about addressing these areas of development over the next twelve months? I will need to balance three main areas, my life and family, my working career as well as my time spend studying for my MBA. In addition, I will also have to constantly focus on my areas of development in order to try and approve them. Doing this should improve my management capabilities. It will also align me with the correct individuals in my current company to ensure improved opportunities in growing my career. Pedler, M, Burgoyne, J & Boydell, T (2007:37) gave a list of activities to do for each area that requires development in their book A Manager’s Guide to Self Development.
I have highlighted some of these activities and have drawn up a plan to do it over the next 12 months. Refer to appendix A. I will also have to make sure I spend more time in our office and with top management in order to gain access to valuable information, insights and data. This will assist in improving my impact and my influence with other people. I will also have to manage my time with my client more efficiently in order to attend all the ‘open days’ and information sessions at our company so that I can achieve my goal. I put a schedule together to ensure I manage all areas of development. I know this is premature, however, it is a start. Refer to Appendix B. I intend recording my progress as well as my learning journals in a tool called Evernote. This tool is available across all platforms and it syncs seamlessly between all my devices. This makes it an ideal tool for my requirements.
I have tried various approaches in the past to improve my managerial capabilities to move from a subject matter expert orientated environment to top management. I realise now that I will have to change my approach because I tend to favour the Monitor Evaluator team role and I am a pragmatist. The key question that still remains is exactly how? This assignment has assisted me in identifying three main areas where development is needed, namely the ability to demonstrate impact and to influence other, creativity and a command of the basic facts. I have put an activity plan together (Appendix A) to assist me improving my areas in need of development. The main issue to keep in mind is that I continuously will have to be self-aware. I will also have to reflect on each and every move I make from now on. My activity plan should also be revaluated on an ongoing basis to ensure it is still the best fit for my current needs. The finer detail is still missing. My hope is that I will be able to improve it by applying the models, tools and exercises available during the course of the MBA and to get more clarity in moving forward.