All entries for October 2012

October 21, 2012

Teamwork and Achievement

I firmly believe in trust, truth and outstanding teamwork; sharing mistakes and celebrating success. Life has taught me that you get the best out of others provided you give the best out of yourself. Essentially, teamwork is always important, whether it is concerned in our personal or professional lives. It is at times mildly and at other times significantly incorporated into everything we do in our lives. On any scale and at any front, teamwork is cardinal as all parts and entities work collabaratively to achieve the common objective. The group assignments that we have been working on over the last couple of weeks have definitely strengthened our team working skills. Ranging from preparing and delivering seminars and presentations to writing reports, team working skills have been constantly reinforced. It is absolutely vital to understand that these skills and competencies are essentially imperative for the competitive professional workplace.

I strongly believe that achievement and performance, when recognised and rewarded, lead to motivation, which, therefore, results in greater achievement. Motivation is intrinsically related to happiness and success, which are the determinants of higher performance. This is also implied by Frederick Herzberg's theory of motivation, as discussed in the last seminar.

Performance Management

The continual process of aiming to improve organisational performance through the continuous improvement of the employees is referred as Performance Management. Performance Management is increasingly important for both the business and the individuals. It aims to improve business performance through focusing on objective setting, performance discussions, and working towards a high performance work culture. Intrinsically, it promotes the idea of teamwork and perseverance, specifically in relation to consistency of approach to people and of talent data. It also facilitates the internal structure of an organisation in reference to its objectives. As far as the individuals are concerned, it again focuses on objective settings, and on personal self assessment and personal development. Furthermore, it enables training identification, and the need for accuracy and perseverance in achieving business goals. Through the reflective personal self assessment, it aims to deliver fairness and objectivity related to performance.

There are several benefits of Performance Reviews for the appraisee and the appraiser. As far as the appraisee is concerned, they provide a clarity of agenda and purpose, i.e. the job role and expectations. Feedback on performance is also given, which is helpful if taken constructively. This can result in an increase in job satisfaction and motivation - which I believe is directly proportional to increased performance. Performance Reviews also provide clarity in terms of future direction by giving an opportunity to discuss job enrichment and career progression. They are especially helpful in identifying the need for training and support. For the appraiser, they provide a greater knowledge and understanding of individual's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunity to identify competency, development and training needs.

The last two weeks have been consistently promoting these key concepts and instilling the necessary knowledge and understanding in us through the various topics, such as The EFQM Excellence Model, Deming's Principles, Organizational Learning, High Performance Work Systems and Motivation at Work. I believe that this process of continual learning and improvement will not only benefit us in the short term, as far as this course is concerned, but remain with us as lifelong learning.

Creating Business Excellence

Our first module, ‘Creating Business Excellence,’ went beyond just teaching us the foundations of creating business excellence. It provided us with the opportunity to exercise business acumen, leadership abilities, and team-work skills through role plays, presentations, reports, seminars and group discussions – ensuring we have the fundamental ingredients to strive for excellence on this module, course and beyond. I believe that this has invoked confidence within us, and amongst our team members. It has also provided a sense of trust, performance, and cohesion. Working in an approachable, actionable and harmonious environment is always beneficial.

It is substantial to reiterate that it is both the fundamental organisational principles on which the practise of business management is based, and the competency to amalgamate it with the art of enterprise leadership and employment relations that are crucial for survival and success in the increasingly competitive global corporate environment. Reinforcing this understanding has been the core objective of ‘Creating Business Excellence’.

Flexible Working

It is integral to have a strong work ethic, and embed it as a key feature into our working style. However, it is increasingly imperative to understand and ensure that this work ethic needs to be balanced with a certain extent of flexibility in individual working arrangements to enable us to deliver our best to people and get the best from them.

On an ad hoc basis, we already make judgements about dealing with different individuals and situations within a team. Therefore, having a degree of flexibility in our working environment is fundamental for success. Albeit, unfortunately, there will be some situations in which it would be difficult to reach a certain degree of flexible working, it is important to assure that we are able to accommodate special requests where normal arrangements are disrupted in order to make the best out of the given situation.

Presentations: A Continual Learning Process

Taking part in several presentations this week has certainly given me a lot of confidence. Additionally, as Paul told us last week, there are going to be numerous presentations in the year ahead. I am confident that this is the year in which we will learn.

I suppose the most essential thing when speaking is the confidence that you develop in front of your colleagues and peers. We all come from different parts of the world; having different cultures, languages, and accents. Ultimately, what matters is the confidence and poise with which we deliver and put forth our opinions across the audience. Of course, confidence does not come naturally to everybody. However, the more we speak in public, the better we get in the time to come.

Presentations held on Friday certainly got overshadowed by the ones held earlier on Tuesday. We relied too much on the definitions and did not pay much heed to the audience. It was an ‘undergrad level’ because we did not concentrate much on the structure and eventually lost the focus.

Confidence, audible voice, credible sources, effective speech and stance, proper structure, and sound content are perhaps the most important aspects we need to consider and learn this year!

October 13, 2012

Life only happens once; only good time management and planning can make it a productive one

It has indeed been a hectic first week or so for me. There has been so much influx of information coming from all directions. It surely can be daunting, but I guess I was mentally prepared for it. One of the various things that has surely had quite an impact on my mind is one observation put forth by Vagelis in the very first class.

Why do children learn so much? I have been contemplating over it and feel like sharing with you all some food for thought:
• We need to ask whether we are giving enough time to ourselves. Children learn so much because they have the most important commodity in life: TIME. Are we managing our time in an effective manner? Are we wasting our time on leisure activities that do not matter?
• Children are not concerned with the long term future. They live in the moment and thus they learn. Albeit long term planning is imperative, how many of us actually plan on short term goals and eventually go on to achieve them? We need to make the best out of every moment we live.
• Stop taking life too seriously and worrying unncessarily since it is not going to add one cubit to our stature, so why worry?
• Stop complicating things. Usually, things are not that complex unless we make them.
• It is okay to question. It is okay to look foolish for a few minutes perhaps. It is even better to learn!
• No task, no theory, no subject can be learnt, understood fully or achieved unless we devote the right time and effort required for it. Learning is a gradual process and commands perseverance.

To conclude, effective time management, hard work, and perservance are the key to success.

It is fun to be back in the phase where we learnt the most :)

Why MBE?

When I am beginning to reflect on what I have learnt so far after the first week of MBE comes to an end, working on my laptop on a Saturday evening, I think of something that I came across whilst I was going through my father’s notes recently. I found that it could in fact be the most truthful account of what I have been learning since I made a conscious choice few years back. Let me share this with you at the end of my reflection.

Being born into a family which placed great emphasis on morals, values and principles, I grew up learning good manners, high social etiquettes, respect for myself and others, honesty, humility, dignity and integrity. Valuing relationships was the fundamental principle taught, learnt and integrated into my system from a very young age. Thus, from early childhood, I realised that I had to live up to my family's ideals and high expectations. These expectations were neither explained through a formal channel, nor taught through any systematic means, but something which I took as a birthright; as a genetic transmission into my anatomy. The mode and means of learning the fundamental concepts of life was simple; it was general observation of life around me. As much as the term ‘high expectations' referred to my personal self and development as a person, it equally referred to my professional career. Everyone I knew, from my grandfather to uncles and aunts, led prestigious professional lives, and therefore it was something that I saw as very natural. Family orientation has been a key aspect of my childhood and life so far, which is why I knew that my personal and professional life will be strictly interlinked. There was a natural and subtle pressure to be highly ambitious.

From wanting to become a Fighter Pilot in the Air Force to a Fashion Designer, my career ambitions had varied throughout childhood and mid-teens. However, despite the adventurous journeys and uncertainties of my naive mind at an early age, there is one thing that has remained strong and consistent throughout life. It is looking at my father as a role model and as an inspirational and hero-esque figure, and aiming to walk in his footsteps.

From an agriculturist family, my grandfather was the first to join the Civil Service. His district administration job took my father to several parts of his home country. My father developed courage to deal with the challenges of their frequent relocations from a very young age and his experience has taught me flexibility, adaptability and change management. He strived to be the top student of every grade and made long time good friends wherever they moved. In March 1981, just two weeks before his secondary school final exam, he had the greatest tragedy of his life with the sudden death of his only sister, a post graduate student of Fine Arts, in a car accident. He was devastated and his dream of getting the School Gold Medal for top position naturally appeared impossible to realise. This time again, he developed the courage and reminded himself of the dream his sister had about his success. He returned to school not to disappoint his parents and the soul of his late sister, who witnessed a few months later that he got the prestigious Gold Medal he had promised for.

I am deeply inspired by my father’s career as a highly accomplished business professional with 22 years of very fulfilling and rewarding career with leading British-American Blue Chip FMCG & Foods companies. He became a board member of Bestfoods at the age of thirty after having worked for Unilever for eight and a half years. This is the kind of professional career I dream of. I believe that studying Management for Business Excellence is increasingly important as we live in a dynamic, evolving and technology advanced world where new global organisational concepts are emerging rapidly. The global business market involves intellectual, creative and emotional challenges, and challenges have always inspired me. The whole idea of carrying a business forward and taking it to new levels fascinates me and I had long aspired to study business excellence at an illustrious academic institution.

Whilst reflecting on my journey and personal development so far, I have realised that life is difficult. I have learnt to accept this fact and this has given me a new perspective in going through my life. I have learnt to accept that life is full of challenges and hard work, along with perseverance, is the key to success. Having high ambitions in life is important and it is imperative to understand that leadership and striving for excellence at both a personal and professional level is a choice - the journey is indeed both difficult and challenging, but the result would be highly rewarding. The first week of MBE, with the transition into Masters and the intensifying pressure, has only affirmed by committment to stay in Management for Business Excellence.

October 2012

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