Foreign Student’s Professional Development Plan

Introduction

Personal development planning broad in nature and it comprises of various aspects such as improving one’s talent, level of awareness and self-knowledge, developing strengths, building employability, improving social abilities, and enhancing lifestyle (Armstrong 2008). Effective implementation of personal development planning enhances the probability of attaining one’s desires and aspirations. Consequently, personal development planning contributes to the establishment of a balance between one’s personal and professional life. To effectively undertake personal development planning, incorporation of a Personal Development Plan [PDP] is vital.

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The PDP is defined as an appraisal instrument that is used by individuals or organizations to nurture personal/professional development. Boer (2011) asserts that the PDP acts as a decision making an instrument that assists individuals to achieve their desired level of personal/professional development. To succeed in their academic and career life, students should appreciate the importance of personal development planning. This can only be attained if critical and structured thinking and reflection on issues related to one’s life are incorporated.

Aim and scope

The objective of this report is to design a professional personal development plan. This has been attained by appreciating the existence of culture shock in learning institutions and the need to undertake effective acculturation, especially during the induction phase. The effect of culture shock on students’ performance is illustrated. The importance of implementing effective teamwork, team-building practices, and presentation skills in one’s personal development is also evaluated. The report also entails a comparison with other academic journals. About the personal development plan, the author identifies the goals to be achieved and the necessary actions to be taken to achieve the predetermined objectives. A summary and a comprehensive reflection on the course are provided at the end.

Literature Review

Acculturation and culture shock

In the 21st century, it has become relatively easy for individuals to interact with others due to the high rate of mobility and globalization of industry. Entertainment, leisure, and educational pursuits are some of the reasons explaining the high rate of globalization (Ward, Bochner & Furnham 2001). Increased educational exchange best explains the high rate of interaction. The United States is ranked as the country with the largest proportion of foreign students. The social transformations being experienced today also explain the increased contact and cultural diversity in society. Marx (2001) thinks that modern society is being transformed from being a mono-cultural society to a multicultural society. Migration from the Less Developed Countries [LDCs] to the developed countries is also fueling cultural diversity. The high rate of interaction by individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds culminates in the emergence of culture shock.

Culture plays an important role in one’s personal/professional development. On the positive side, cultural diversity provides numerous development opportunities for individuals. However, the existence of cultural differences can result in the emergence of conflicts amongst individuals. For example, individuals belonging to a particular culture may only prefer to work, believe, trust, and play with those whose culture is similar or close. This illustrates why cultural contact is challenging. The conflict theory formulated by Karl Marx suggests that conflicts amongst individuals arise from the existence of cultural/social differences (Andersen & Taylor 2008). The conflict may arise from differences in values, skills, religion, age, language, interests, rules, morals, and meanings amongst other elements that make human beings differ.

To survive in a society that has increasingly become very dynamic owing to the high rate of globalization demands individuals to be competent in dealing with cultural differences. This can only be attained if individuals undergo a comprehensive acculturation process. Acculturation refers to the process of comprehending the phenomena that arise due to continuous interaction between individuals of different cultures and the subsequent change in their behavior patterns and perceptions.

Culture shock forms the first stage of the acculturation process. Rathje (2009) asserts that culture shock entails “several emotional reactions that emanate from loss of perceptual reinforcement associated with one’s culture to new cultural stimuli which have minimal or no meaning” (p.45). In their quest to achieve their educational goals, students are exposed to cultural shock. For example, students have to interact with students from different cultural backgrounds. This presents a major challenge to students in their effort to understand their colleagues’ cultural differences. The cultural differences may result in the generation of a feeling of isolation amongst the students (Chambers, Schwartz & Boath 2003).

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This underscores the importance of school management teams implementing a comprehensive induction process. Induction is an important step that learning institutions should consider in their quest to ensure that students attain a high level of performance (Everard & Morris 2004). An effective induction process improves the students’ level of concentration, involvement, and stimulating their interest. Therefore, learning institutions should implement optimal induction strategies. The induction strategy employed determines the effectiveness with which the students understand the school’s processes, procedures, and practices. Incorporation of effective induction processes in the learning institutions aids in creating and sustaining positive contact between students hence minimizing the negative effects of culture shock such as anxiety and psychological discomfort (Passmore & Cantore 2012).

Cultural diversity was very evident at the University of Wolverhampton. To exploit the prevailing cultural diversity, I appreciated the various cultures that constituted the student population. Additionally, I developed a perception that the existence of cultural diversity presented an opportunity in my development efforts. This was very vital in dealing with culture shock. This emanates from the fact that I was able to meet individuals that I would not have met in my entire life. Variation in culture amongst fellow students also allowed me to gain new knowledge and ideas necessary for my personal development. Despite appreciating the prevailing cultural shock, I was faced with the enormous challenge of ensuring that I become acculturated into the institution. This required that I understand my colleague’s norms, religion, lifestyle, rules, meanings, values, interests, and beliefs.

To improve the students’ performance, the institution undertook an effective induction process. This is illustrated by the fact that the lecturers were very supportive and responsive to student needs. Adoption of the ‘open door policy’ has continuously played a significant role in the institution’s induction process by enhancing student-lecturer interaction. Consequently, effective acculturation through the establishment of favorable networks which led to the development of a sense of belonging was attained. The students were very friendly and nice. The continuous contact and socialization with students of diverse cultural backgrounds, I have managed to develop several strengths. Similarly, some weaknesses that I should focus on in my personal development are also identified. Some of the personal skills and knowledge gained relate to teamwork skills, flexibility/adaptability, and the ability to understand statistics (Avery, Walker & Murphy 2001).

Teamwork and presentation skills

The concept of teamwork has become a critical element in individuals’ development efforts. The classical systems theory has been extensively used to explain the concept of teamwork. The theory postulates that processes, outputs, and inputs are nurtured over time. Team outputs include the teams’ performance while team inputs entail the tasks to be undertaken and the attitude of the team member. On the other hand, the team process refers to the various coordination and interaction mechanisms necessary to attain the desired outcome (Kanki, Helmreich & Anca 2010). Effective team performance is only attained if the fundamentals are incorporated. Some of these fundamentals include ensuring effective communication and integration of effective problem-solving skills (Avery, Walker & Murphy 2001).

The changes being experienced in the global business and economic environments such as the high rate of globalization are stimulating organizations to reconsider the employability skills to consider in their hiring processes (Beaausaert 2011). Government institutions, non-governmental organizations, private entities, and community groups are increasingly shifting to teamwork in their desire to promote a high level of employee participation and involvement. Additionally, this trend has also been necessitated by the need to improve performance and streamline processes (Carayon 2011).

Some of the employability skills that employers are increasingly taking into account when evaluating graduate job candidates include their team-working ability, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, managerial, and leadership skills. One of the factors that have led to this transformation is associated with the fact that organizations are incorporating projects in their effort to augment their competitive advantage (Gilbert 2004). In contemporary society, the ability to work in a cross-cultural team has become a highly-priced employee attribute (Griffith University 2012). To align themselves with the changes being experienced, most learning institutions have considered it necessary to design their study practices an individual process.

To achieve this, learning institutions are increasingly incorporating the concept of teamwork/group work in their study programs to effectively impart knowledge to students. The success of teamwork in learning institutions is dependent on the efficacy with which interpersonal skills are cultivated. This means that people skills are very important. Additionally, interpersonal communication is a key ingredient in teamwork development. Beaausaert (2011) asserts that “communication is of utmost importance to teamwork” (p. 35). Additionally, communication has to be comprehensive, clear, and concise. To effectively express oneself, individuals need to incorporate various methods of expression such as oral expression, using various visual aids, or writing.

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To be an effective team player, there are several people skills that an individual should consider. Some of these skills include speaking skills, listening skills, leadership skills, and negotiation skills (Avery, Walker & Murphy 2001). Teamwork skills are vital in my pursuit of personal development in the current workplace environment. This emanates from the fact that I will be in a position to maintain positive contact with the team members hence attaining the desired results. Nurturing teamwork will also improve my ability in establishing balance in teams because teams are characterized by different roles. As a post-graduate student in business and economics, I appreciate the existence of diverse team roles as postulated by Dr. Meredith Belbin. The balance will be attained by being effective in establishing the right team. As a team player, I will be to strike a balance between individual team members, the tasks assigned, and the team. To achieve this, I will focus on being a coordinator, monitor, investigator, sharper, finisher, implementer, planter, specialist, and problem solver.

As a business and economics student, I am cognizant of the fact that the effectiveness and efficiency of teams’ operations and hence their performance can be adversely affected by different aspects such as employee conflict. Therefore, I will ensure that I am effective in identifying aspects that might result in conflict amongst team members. Effective monitoring skills are very important in ensuring that the team members operate within the laid out framework (Yeomans & Sampson 2005).

In addition to the above skills, I will also focus on nurturing strong coherence between team members. This will be attained by incorporating effective communication skills and providing mutual assistance to team members. Communication constitutes an important element in the success of teams in that it promotes effective and timely feedback. The flow of information will be attained by effective designing of the intended message and its verification before disseminating it to the target audience. The course has enabled me to gain leadership skills such as how to nurture a positive working environment and effective task allocation which are vital in creating synergy in teams.

Report and academic journal comparisons

Numerous studies have been conducted on how one can attain a high level of personal development. Some of the issues evident in most academic journal relates to nurturing effective interpersonal relationships. Despite the existence of differences in their focus, one of the congruent aspects relates to appreciating the existence of cultural diversity. This aspect has become a key consideration by most authors considering the high rate of globalization that is leading to increased cultural contact. Appreciating cultural diversity is important because it contributes towards individuals developing a high level of respect for one another. The resultant effect is that they can co-exist in the workplaces and society in general.

Most authors emphasize the significance of developing a positive perception regarding cultural differences. This arises from the fact that differences in culture can be a source of new knowledge and skills which are critical in the pursuit of personal development. New knowledge and skills are created from the high rate of interaction between individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds. This makes it evident that despite the difference in focusing on personal development, appreciating cultural divergence has emerged as a common factor.

In addition to cultural diversity, effective communication and presentation skills have also been cited amongst the most important elements in personal development. Communication determines the effectiveness with which individuals interact and hence the effectiveness of teams that might be formed.

Personal planning and action plan

Upon identifying the skills to nurture, it is vital for an effective action plan to be incorporated (Everard & Morris 2004). The first step in action planning entails formulating the intended personal development goals and objectives. As a post-graduate student at the University of Wolverhampton, there are several goals that I intend to achieve. The first goal relates to attaining high educational success. This arises from the realization of the fact that educational attainment will form the basis of my success in my future career. It is also my goal to develop my strengths, attain a high level of self-awareness, improve my interpersonal relationships, and be able to deal with stressful situations and phenomena. However, the attainment of these goals will be influenced by my commitment to implementing them.

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To improve my level of commitment, a comprehensive action plan will be designed. The action plan will identify the goal, the activity to be undertaken, the expected date within which the goal should be attained, the resources required, and what to assess to determine their attainment. The following chart illustrates the action plan that I will follow in my development efforts.

Goal Milestone (activities to be undertaken) By Date By whom Resources needed Evidence that milestone is completed
Improving my healthy Establishing a balance in my personal life and career. 2 months Support of family members, lecturers, and support staff. Lecturers, family members, and colleagues. A high level of effectiveness and efficiency in time management
Educational success
  • Succeeding in my degree program.
  • Cooperating with students, lecturers, and other support staff in the institution.
Within 2 years. Seeking assistance from colleagues, lecturers, and other support staff. Utilizing various books, journal articles, and relevant online materials.
Effective time management will also be ensured.
Attainment of high pass mark in the course.
Improving interpersonal relationships.
  • Incorporation of effective communication and socialization skills.
  • Recognizing and appreciating diverse cultures in different institutions.
  • Nurturing optimal teamwork skills.
During and after the degree program. The skills will be assessed by seeking the opinion of fellow students and lecturers. Effective communication skills. Development of strong interpersonal relationships with colleagues, lecturers, and support staff.
Improving the level of awareness and strengths Identifying my weaknesses in various aspects such as emotions, habits, and values.
Prioritizing the aspects to focus on.
awareness which includes personality, values, habits,
Within the course of the postgraduate program. Seeking assistance from colleagues and lecturers using a questionnaire on the identified areas. Personal questionnaire.
Fellow students and lecturers will be the respondents.
Improved understanding of my strengths and weaknesses

Conclusion and reflection

The analysis above has illustrated the importance of incorporating personal development planning in ones’ effort to succeed in their personal and professional life. The planning process aids in identifying areas of weakness that one should focus on hence increasing the probability of attaining personal development goals. This is attained by developing an action plan that one should stick to. The goals identified should be arranged by their priority.

The analysis has also illustrated the importance of being cognizant of the existence of cultural shock due to variation in cultural backgrounds amongst the individuals that one will be required to interact with. Therefore, the necessity of effective acculturation is underscored. The postgraduate program has been of great significance in my personal development. Firstly, it has provided me with an opportunity to understand the benefits associated with cultural diversity. Secondly, I have also been able to appreciate the importance of developing effective teamwork and presentation skills in my development efforts.

Reference List

Andersen, M & Taylor, H 2008, Sociology; the essentials, Cengage. New York Armstrong, M 2008, How to be an even better manager; a complete A-Z techniques and essential skills, Kogan Page, Philadelphia.

Avery, C, Walker, M & Murphy, E 2001, Teamwork is an individual skill: getting your work done when sharing responsibility, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco.

Beaausaert, S 2011, The use of personal development plans in the workplace; effects, purpose and supporting conditions, Datawyse, The Netherlands.

Boer, J 2011, Personal development e-book volume 1, My Skills, London.

Carayon, P 2011, Handbook of human factors and ergonomics inn healthcare and patient safety, CRC Press, California.

Chambers, R, Schwartz, A & Boath, E 2003, Beating stress in the NHS, Radcliffe Medical, Abingdon.

Everard, K & Morris, G 2004, Effective school management, Paul Chapman, London.

Gilbert, N 2004, The best 143 business schools, Princeton Review Publishers, New York.

Griffith University: Teamwork skills toolkit 2012, viewed 1 Jan. 2013, <http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/162726/teamwork.pdf>

Kanki, B, Helmreich, R & Anca, J 2010, Crew resource management, Academic Press Elsevier, Boston.

Marx, E 2001, Breaking through culture shock: What you need to succeed in international business, Nicholas Braeley, London.

Passmore, J & Cantore, S 2012, Top business psychology models: 50 transforming ideas for leaders, consultants, and coaches, Kogan, London.

Rathje, S 2009, ‘The definition of culture: an application-oriented overhaul’, Inter-culture Journal, vol. 8 no.1, pp. 1-25.

Ward, C, Bochner, S & Furnham, A 2001, Culture shock, Routledge, New York.

Yeomans, R & Sampson, J 2005, Mentorship in the primary school: Mentorship in action, Routledge, New York.

Appendix

Task 2 Fad Development [Employee training]

In the course of their operation, both profit and non-profit making entities intend to achieve a high level of operational efficiency. To achieve this, most of these organizations appreciate the importance of having a strong workforce. However, the element of employee satisfaction have for a considerable period been hinged on monetary issues. This trend is currently changing and organizations are increasingly focusing on non-monetary benefits. Employee training is one of the elements that have become very prominent amongst organizations. This has arisen from realization of the fact that employees are the most important organizational assets. Without a strong human capital, an organization cannot be able to achieve optimal results despite being endowed with other resources such as financial capital and machinery. Development of a strong workforce has increasingly been perceived as an important element in organization’s effort to attain a high competitive advantage relative to their competitors.

Over the past decades, the concept of employee training has undergone significant development. This is evidenced by its prominence in organizations especially amongst the executives. The period ranging from 1911 to 1950s was characterized by a relatively less appreciation of the concept of employee training. This is evidenced by the fact that most organizations during this period focused on providing monetary remuneration to employees. However, the resultant effect is that the employees were not effective in executing their duties. During this period, most organizational managers focused on being effective in formulating the employee remuneration policies in terms of wages and salaries. The element of employee development through training was not given the necessary consideration. Lack of focus on employee training culminated in few academic researches and studies being conducted on the subject. However, from 1950s, the early 1960s, this trend changed. Managers started to appreciate the importance of undertaking effective employee training in their quest to develop a high competitive advantage. This is evidenced by the rise in the fad ‘employee training’ as used by academicians.

In the contemporary work environment, employee training is one of the most important factors that managers are considering in an effort to ensure a high rate of employee retention. Organizations are increasingly formulating employee development programs in an effort to ensure that their workforce attain a high level of career and personal satisfaction. The growth in employee training has also been necessitated by organizations’ appreciation of the importance of conducting performance appraisal in order to identify the areas of employee training.

Employee training has also culminated in decline in the rate of employee turnover in organizations. To enhance employee retention, organizations are increasingly incorporating internal and external training programs. The objective of such programs is to develop their workforces’ level of satisfaction that emanates from attaining a high level of actualization. The graph below illustrates the growth of the fad ‘employee training’ over the past decades. From the trend illustrated in the graph, it is evident that employee training will become a prominent aspect in organizations effort to succeed.

Period Number of times the term ’employee training’ was identified
1911-1921 1
1922-1932 3
1933-1943 4
1944-1954 8
1955-1965 10
1966-1976 15
1977-1987 23
1988-1998 32
1999-2009 48

Figure 1: Chart showing growth of the fad ‘employee training’

Figure 2: Graph showing the use of the term ’employee training’

Appendices

Appendix 1: SWOT Analysis

After conducting a comprehensive personal evaluation, I was able to identify a number of strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, I was also able to identify a number of opportunities and threats from the external environment. The chart below illustrates a summary of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Strengths
  1. Effectiveness in developing and sustaining interpersonal communication which is necessary for team development.
  2. Ability to appreciate and exploit the cultural differences amongst individuals.
  3. Decision making capability.
Weaknesses
  • Ineffectiveness in implementing goals due to failure to stick to the time component of the SMART model of goal setting ( that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound).
Opportunities
  1. The cultural diversity presented in the learning institution and the society is a unique opportunity to attain a high level of personal development.
  2. The growth in technology presents a unique opportunity to improve my presentation skills with is necessary for developing a strong interpersonal relationship.
  3. By being a team player, there is a high probability of improving my employability and hence my professional success.

.

Threats
  1. The high rate of globalization presents a major challenge with regard to acculturation due to the need to understand and appreciate diverse cultures.
  2. Culture shock also presents a major threat in my effort to nurture positive cultural interaction.
  3. A change in individuals’ values, attitudes and beliefs is a major limitation in developing interpersonal relationship.

Appendix 2: Skills, Knowledge Audit

The chart below illustrates my skills, and knowledge audit.

Skills Scale
1 2 3 4 5
Level of personal motivation
Flexibility and adaptability
Effectiveness in communication
Initiative
Being initiative
Confidence
Ability to exploit and learn from new experiences

Appendix 3: Secondary desk research on teamwork and presentation skills

Studying in University of Wolverhampton has been of great significance in my personal development. The learning environment has provided me with a unique opportunity to develop my personal and professional career. One of the aspects that the University has enabled me to appreciate relates to teamwork. To effectively interact with other individuals, it is vital to appreciate the concept of cultural diversity. This arises from the fact that individuals in the society are characterized by differences in values, attitudes, beliefs, and interpretation of meaning. Such differences may result in emergence of conflicts amongst individuals in institutions which may culminate in ineffectiveness and inefficiency in team performance. Recognizing the existing cultural differences in a team aids in nurturing a sense of coherence amongst team members. The cultural diversity in the university has been of great significance in my effort to develop strong team work skills. This arises from the fact that I have had an opportunity to work as a group. Consequently, I have developed significant understanding and appreciation of different team roles as outlined by Meredith Belbin.

Appreciation of team roles is very important in my effort to be an effective team leader. This arises from the fact that I will be able to promote high team performance and productivity. Additionally, I will be able to create balanced team in the course of my professional career. Some of the team roles I identified being most important in my effort to being an effective team leader relates to people oriented roles and action oriented roles. The action oriented roles identified include being an implementer, a shaper, and a completer-finisher. By being a shaper, I will be in a position to challenge team members to improve their performance while being an implementer will ensure that things are done. On the other hand, the completer-finisher role will ensure that team members accomplish their tasks in a thorough manner.

The people-oriented roles that I will focus on develop include being a coordinator, a resource investigator and a team worker. Effective coordination will ensure that team members are effectively guided in their effort to achieve the predetermined team objectives. The team worker role will ensure that I provide sufficient support to individuals so as to enhance their working relationship. The resource investigator role will ensure that I am able to explore the various options available to negotiate for the team to have sufficient resources. In addition to the above team roles, I will also ensure that I develop thought-oriented roles. Some of the roles that will be considered include being a planter, a specialist and a monitor evaluator. By being a planter I will be able to develop new ideas to deal with situations that might arise.

In addition to teamwork, effective presentation skills are also paramount in my personal development. This arises from the fact that I will be able to communicate effectively to individuals with whom I interact with. Some of the presentation skills that I will focus on include being a good listener, effective handling of audience, audible and confident. Presentation skills will also aid in nurturing unity of purpose amongst the team members.

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