July 27, 2012

Follow Up 5: Final Review Part 2

Follow-up to Follow Up 4: Final Review Part 1 from Melvin's blog

kas2Subsequently through this workshop I have learnt that when a team is performing at its best, you'll usually find that each team member has clear responsibilities. Also that every role needed to achieve the team's goal is being performed fully and well. But often, despite clear roles and responsibilities, a team will fall short of its full potential. Over the range of experiences I have experienced the different issues with conflict or incorrect delegation or absence of certain role inflicting damage, ie. In the absence of co-ordinator everyone did little bits without thinking of the work need to be completed; resultant of this absence the work was rushed at the end forgetting some parts and in turn getting a low grade for the presentation.

Perhaps some team members don't complete the things you expect them to do. Perhaps others are not quite flexible enough, so things "fall between the cracks." Maybe someone who is valued for their expert input fails to see the wider picture, and so misses out tasks or steps that others would expect. Or perhaps one team member becomes frustrated because he disagrees with the approach of other team members.

1sdOn the whole I have come to learn, that the team roles each person plays is a inclination to behave, contribute and interconnect with others in a specific way. Teams can become unbalanced if all team members have similar styles of behaviour or team roles. If team members have similar weakness, the team as a whole may tend to have that weakness. If team members have similar team-work strengths, they may tend to compete (rather than co-operate) for the team tasks and responsibilities that best suit their natural styles.

Thus for an effective team these nine roles are key. It is vital to identify the team roles in each team so each member can play at their strengths as well as clarifying any missing team roles.

Each team harbours the different players. As in the case stated above of the basketball committee, it is vital to determine the team roles as it would help prevent conflicts, establish correct delegation of tasks (each person can work at their strengths)

Action Oriented Roles

Shaper

Challenges the team to improve.

Implementer

Puts ideas into action.

Completer Finisher

Ensures thorough, timely completion.

People Oriented Roles

Coordinator

Acts as a chairperson.

Team Worker

Encourages cooperation.

Resource Investigator

Explores outside opportunities.

Thought Oriented Roles

Plant

Presents new ideas and approaches.

Monitor-Evaluator

Analyzes the options.

Specialist

Provides specialized skills.


Knowing this, you can use the model with your team to help ensure that necessary team roles are covered, and that potential behavioral tensions or weaknesses among the team member are addressed. Also, by understanding your role within a the team, you can develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses as a team member, and so improve how you contribute to the team.

The main point I have learnt is that Belbin's "team roles" are based on observed behavior and interpersonal styles. However it is always susceptible to situational changes; your behavior and interpersonal style within a team is to some extent dependent on the situation. This is because it relates not only to your own natural working style, but also to your interrelationships with others, and the work being done. Among teams of people that do the same job, a small number of team roles may prevail. For example, within a research department, the team roles of Specialist and Plant may be filled by several people. A team of business consultants may mainly comprise Team Workers and Shapers. Such teams may be unbalanced, in that they may be missing key approaches and outlooks. If the team is unbalanced, first identify any team weakness that is not naturally covered by any of the team members. Then identify any potential areas of conflict. For example, too many Shapers can weaken a team if each Shaper wants to pull the team in a different direction.

If I had to give five tips based on what I have learnt and experienced, to someone who will be working in a group, I would suggest the following:

First of all, spend enough time to introduce yourselves so as to develop confidence, respect and trust towards the other team members;

Secondly, organise the roles and tasks in accordance to skills, capabilities and desires, in order to make everyone happy and satisfied with their work;

Thirdly, promote a healthy and effective working environment, where flexibility and discussions are two main pillars;

Fourthly, constantly check on the progress of all members, remind the team of the goal you are aiming towards and make sure that the group is following the timeline initially set up;

Finally, reflect on the outcome and the process of the teamwork, so that mistakes can be corrected and the team learns through these.

image6.gifThus in conclusion, this workshop has truly given me the understanding of how to put together an effective team, work together as an effective team and succeed as a effective team. Team working has really opened my eyes to the team dynamics which I had no knowledge about previously, and one which I just left to a person being good or bad, quite a childlike methodology. I really hope I can develop the skill I learnt in identifying the different roles, building on my strengths which also being flexible for the betterment of the team. My real team experiences where I have implemented the learnt theory has beyond doubt opened my eyes to the reality of team working and how you can use the belbin’s profile to attain the most out of the team, even if you feel the people who you are in a team with are not work focussed. Everyone works differently in a team and it is playing at each person’s strengths that attains the stunning results. Create the ‘PERFECT CIRCLE


Best Regards

Melvin Jose


Follow Up 4: Final Review Part 1

Follow-up to P3 Follow Up 3: Tackling issues, not as one but in a group! from Melvin's blog

“Understanding and analysing the traits of each of the group members”

team.gifIndividual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, acivilization work.” Vince Lombardi
Adding to the previous post on my roles in the basketball committee, I would like to add that there were occasions where I adorned the different roles.

As the president of the basketball committee has been ill as of late, I became the link between the committee and him. As I have previously have performed event organisation roles during my undergraduate years, I decided to take charge bringing to light the situation to committee. Illustrating the need to starting fixing venue, date and organising teams. With numerous tasks, I firstly brainstormed with the committee all the requirements, following which delegated the work and divided it appointing the correct team player for the task at hand. Having a really good public speaker amongst us, I was quick to pick him out as the resource investigator to talk to possible venue personnel etc . Thus in this way I delegated the work amongst us, based on team profiles.

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An issue arose with this person during the brainstorm. During the session, another member came up with the idea of obtaining a venue with an electronic score board, as well as having a professional videographer tape the whole match. Clearly this person was the plant. However the issue arose, when the other person (supposed to be the resource investigator), disagreed the idea straight away saying it was slightly unrealistic. Only when he spoke about the monetary aspects and the difficulty in finding a cheap professional videographer, did I realise he also had a secondary role as an implementer. This was the area where I stepped in as a team player and tried to lighten the mood by bringing to light the grandness and beauty in having a professional video taken, which could also be a good video for the website and thus attracting more future members. I also added that a cheaper option could be found suggesting I would help the resource investigator to find an alternative. This was a key area where actually determining the tendency of each person towards a team role. As in this case determining the qualities and tendencies(My first action point) illustrated the pros and cons of each team role. As with the case of the resource investigator being quite extrovert and enthusiastic, it really helped the tasks. However also being an implementer meant inflexible, which in the case with the plant meant a conflict situation. Thus this identification was vital based on individual traits, shown in the table. It is also key to understand each role comes with an allowable weakness, but if the team is balanced a weakness of one will be counteracted by the strength of another.


cqjvsdWith the lack of time we decided the venue and video amongst us. While he handled the venue I along with 2 other members scoured the internet and their own contacts for a cheaper option. It was then I decided to post some flyers in the library at Warwick and in school of Life sciences, thus playing the role of implementer to get the video organised for the match. Following this I got contacted by students who are good with video editing. Free lancing the video was the best option as we got a cheap deal, and upon asking them for previously done videos chose one for the video.

My ME role is one that I naturally perform. Throughout the whole process I kept an eye on the time line and how far the tasks have been completed. At time criticising ideas and keeping a track of who does what, whilst pushing members to get work completed (SHAPER).

Another example where ‘Understanding and analysis of the traits’ was crucial was at the organising for the end of term meal for our course. A group of us decided to set up a meal two of the members were given the job of deciding on the place, whilst the remaining 3 including myself focussed on letting people know through the intranet, inviting our tutors as well as organising a trip to Alton towers. So as initially the venue was not fixed everyone was notified that the location would be fixed in a day or two. We met up to get their ideas on location , however they were ready with a grand location already. So we told everyone of the location, but about a week away from the set date for the meal none of us were told about the cost etc. Thinking they must have already sorted and booked it we left it and didn’t confirm with them. About 4 days before the set date, I was a little worried and went to find out about the cost of the venue they had booked. It was only then I came to know they hadn’t booked the place. They just kept re thinking of the venues, without notifying us and without even keeping in mind the gravity of the situation. It was then I realised that they were PLANTS coming up with brilliant locations, but not effectively communicating with the group about their idea as well as failing to state the cost that was going to be charged (£40 per head). This was clearly not suitable and panicking I took charge of splitting the group up to assess the situation, together discussing possible venues but always criticising on how good the venue looked and the price they charged. It hadn’t realised that the individuals were not implementers or for that matter resource investigators. Therefore the team struggled and nearly messed up the last meal of the year for degree colleagues to come together before going our separate ways at the end of this month. I am happy to say the ‘Meal Was Saved’ and we came up with better location at the ‘Tarsus Hotel’.


Part 2 to follow

Best Regards


Melvin Jose



July 26, 2012

Follow–up 3: The final academic presentation and nearing to career presentations

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: Presenting With Confidence from Melvin's blog

This update focuses on my last action point; accommodating it in preparation and the pros and cons faced. My last and final action point to tackle was as follows:

Practise is also another point ( few sessions with loud presentations in front of the mirror or other people, as similar conditions as possible to the real thing)

Today was my final presentation for this MSc at Warwick, my final opportunity to implement everything I learnt, whilst also tackling my last and most ignored action point ‘PRACTICE IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR’. For this preparation was focussed on a lot, as the professor was quite specific about the way he approached presentations. This presentation was a confidence filled one, thanks to previous ones where being assertive whilst presenting produced good results. I must say all of the approaches and techniques I have learnt are beginning to become a second nature to me whilst presenting.

All the aspects of VOICE, ITONATION and PHYSICAL STANCE were all implemented smoothly. There was however a point where my throat ran dry. However, I was ready for this as I had a glass of water at hand. So, as I realised my throat was running dry a slight nervousness did set in. Seeing that this was occurring I used ‘ITONATION’ to set apart an important aspect of the pace ‘ The biggest advantage is there is complete collaboration without any conflicts’. Following emphasis on this aspect I created a pause to let the point to be emphasised, whilst also taking a quick sip of water. Thus tackling the issue smoothly.

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Now specifically talking about the last action point of ‘PRACTICING IN FRONT OF MIRROR’, I realise that more I did that more I became nervous. I tried standing in front of the mirror and presenting, however somehow it made me more self conscious. I tried practicing with a group of friends and the result was the same. What I realised was, more I did an official practise session, ie. By standing up in front of everyone, more I became nervous. However, by doing a less official practise runs, that is when music running in the background or even talking whilst in the shower works better J.

Personally I thought this was strange, but is something that works for me. When I think of a presentation in a more relaxed setting, as a performance rather than an serious assessment, I perform much better. So, in the case of this presentation I practised thoroughly, however with music playing or whilst working out in the gym. One thing I definitely do is make sure I see and know the place where I am presenting beforehand. Additionally, whilst practicing I do picture myself there, though only once or twice. Another excellent lesson I learnt is the art of making nervousness a weapon in my arsenal. By seeing the nervousness as a precursor to success ( I’m not sure how to put this into words, but seeing the nervousness as an energy to perform well; as in the case of a boxing match seeing nervousness as a feeling that you can do anything). It is a sort of self motivational technique to put myself in the mindset to perform to the best. Overall the presentation turned out to be really good with the professor actually telling us in person that he loved out presentation and also hinted at a possible ‘Distinction’.
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I must say even though the last action point was not literally suited to me and probably might be suitable for others, modifying and still suiting the practice session for individual needs and situation is vital. Thus is the end of academic presentations and begins the wait for corporate presentations to come.

My drive to presentation is seeing it as a performance, not an aural communication of words but an art in teaching, entertaining and interactively involving the audience. The famous words of John McTiernan (American film director & Producer) “The entertainment is in the presentation” is a view I implement to present with drive and confidence.


Kind regards

Melvin

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July 25, 2012

P3 Follow Up 3: Tackling issues, not as one but in a group!

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: Action point implementation from Melvin's blog


“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

This week’s blog entry concentrates on the position that I currently hold in the Basketball Society, a society of approximately 25 members. The main tasks that I have been in charge as social secretary are: sending emails to the members of the society when necessary, , preparing several socials, taking part in the organisation of team barbeques and attending numerous executive committee meetings.
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Being part of the executive committee of the Society involves making most of the decisions together, which usually includes discussions and the obtainment of common agreements, and also requires supporting team members in the fulfilment of their role. I enjoy working in a team and I consider this to be one of my key strengths; I have been able to use this skill in my position of responsibility and it has proven to be very useful. Finally, if I had to put my behaviour among Belbin’s team roles I would say that I have been mostly a co-ordinator, monitor evaluator, implementer and a team worker, although at times I have also proven to have the qualities of a shaper.

Over the last few weeks the particular task has been to arrange the annual tournament alongside the committee, this has seen truly the use of a number of different roles to suit the different occasions. When the team lacked organisers, I adorned that role in the same way I did with the other team roles. However, the particular issue I had was in the absence of ‘Socialisers’ trying to play my least preferred roles.

Nevertheless, I have had opportunities to build on this role over the weeks with the range of group work and presentations I have had. Specifically, whilst part of a 2 member team I played the role of ‘resource investigator’ and ‘team worker’ at time, as it was vital when there was the risk of becoming isolated and inwardly-focused. Even at times when getting to work effectively was not possible considering it was nearly the end of degree and the summer, I tried to motivate the other member with inside knowledge on the opposition, illustrated the absolute need to work as the professor had a personal interest in our topic and also brought to light the need to perform the best to maintain module averages. Hence, made sure that the team’s idea would carry to the world outside the team through effective communication with different people in the course and professors.

Overall, I am making the art of judging clearly the different role players in the team and thus assess the absent roles. I have also come to play my preferred roles effectively whilst also being flexible to taken on other ones to prevent the occurrence of a dysfunctional team.
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Best Regards

Melvin Jose


Follow–Up 3: What next after Making the Choice to learn?

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2: From ‘knowing the way to learn’ to ‘Making the Choice to learn’ from Melvin's blog

The last few weeks having been filled with a number of group projects were the longest most tiring two weeks of my life. Anyway, in that time I had the opportunity of working with different people on many projects, leading sometimes and following in others, a key place where I used my learned skills in ‘ASSERTIVENESS’ and ‘TEAM WORKING’ simultaneously. For this post I’m focusing only on ‘ASSERTIVENESS’ as the team working blog post will follow soon J.

These projects provided a great environment for me since I tried to be as assertive as I can be, without sounding aggressive -hopefully-, and almost all of my team members described me as a 'natural leader' something I never knew I could achieve in such a short time.

To be fair, some of these projects also allowed me to develop a holistically assertive in different situations. To be fair, I have participated in many workshops and I believe almost all of them helped me become more assertive, an example is the workshop on "delivering effective presentations" which taught me that assertiveness and confidence can be faked, then built from the effect of the fake in the eyes of the audience,. This, I tried to implement in my approach and can be seen in the way I interacted in the various workshops, specifically during my input for developing the presentational resource with Han-Na Cha, alongside others J. Assertiveness is a skill that I am liberally using these days especially with my dissertation supervisor, to attain his views on my structure and course of action, as well as to develop a close and effective supervisor- supervisee relationship.

Nonetheless, presentational approaches with assertiveness implemented were the best at helping me develop confident communication, one of my main action points. Towards the end of the last 2 modules we were tasked with preparing a presentation that required about at the very least 2 days of solid preparation before, as it involved coming up with a new business strategy (including a lot of variables to look at ).

Considering it was the summer and nearly end of the course, I realized that not everyone in my team was willing to participate fully. So I took it as my responsibility to motivate them by reminding them of how well we had done so far, bringing up the enthusiasm and interest that the professor projected on our topic. Adding to this I used the power of positive thinking to self motivate each individual, by reminding them how great it would feel if we stood out as the best. I also instilled a need to deliver the importance of giving the best, telling them the professor kept a keen interest in the way we tackled this issue and coming up a new strategy for the company ‘APPLE’. Come the day of the presentation; three of my team presented, two colleagues and myself, I closed specifically inviting the whole team to the floor to take questions for the discussion. I tried to lead the discussion by encouraging my team to through ideas and thoughts, without myself jumping into the answer myself. I also ensured I summarised what they had said, and adding final comments on their contributions.


Thus, via using presentations I have built my confidence in verbal communication, always taking a second before answering, having a smile and engaging in non-threatening eye contact J. Every success at these occasions has built my assertive skills, giving myself a confidence boost which can be seen in the interactive debates in I engage in, voicing my views on a topic through questions I ask the tutor. The success at presentations were easily one of the most confident moments I had in my life, and I absolutely enjoyed it, what's more I intend on reliving it again and again.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I have realised that in quite stressful situations where I have been trying to be assertive, I could come off as aggressive. A situation comes to mind where I tried my best to try and illustrate that the professor was looking for a specific case to explain his topic. But, this individual was reluctant to see my point of view, rather criticising my views (which are fine) and getting quite personal about the comments.

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I did realise at these moment my assertive behaviour started to take a more aggressive approach( probably because I started getting annoyed; EMOTION DRIVEN COMMUNICATION), however I am very quick to assess what I say and realise how I might sound. Thus, tried to ease the situation by illustrating I am a student just as the other individual and probably lack knowledge in certain parts, following which direct them to the tutor. Always after such a situation, I try to direct the attention to more social or out of context situations ( such as did you see the football match last night?). Thus ensuring the small strife filled situation we could have had was avoided and making sure our relationship was not affected. FINISH ON A GOOD NOTE J Always keeping in mind ‘Never fear to show your feeling and opinions’ as it just feels too good to pass on. However, keep in mind the image of yourself you are projecting, the effect on the other person and the effect on relationships. Tailor your communication in an Assertive manner, getting rid of passiveness or aggressiveness and exuding yourself as a confident and professional individual.


Regards

Melvin


Follow–Up 2:An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Follow-up to P1 Introduction to skills develpment and WSPA from Melvin's blog


This is a long overdue post, for an update on my progress. Last few weeks being riddled with work and other commitments restrained me from writing this up. So taking the complete VARK questionnaire, my results are as follows:

Visual: 13
Aural: 9
Read/Write: 10
Kinaesthetic:8
Following an inner look into my preferences of working and relating to the results, seems to be a perfect fit. My visual style of working suits me very well and I realise it is one that I work best at. Looking back at times when I have incorporated this specific style, the results speak for themselves; as I have done well 95% of the times. I believe it is during these occasions, when I use the visual models that I actually enjoy the work the most and am thoroughly soaked in it.
Overall the results illustrated that I had a ‘MULTIMODAL’ Learning Preference, which suits perfectly with my knack for adaptability to any situation, suiting my learning style to the surrounding environment and people. Putting basis on selected style on how others also would prefer it, such as change styles based on how the person marking the assignment would prefer. This is something I have been doing without thinking and only now has come to my knowledge. My last presentation was a reflection of this when I tailored my presentation based on how the professor gave his lectures. Putting more text in, simple layout etc.
However, I still have a strong preference for ‘VISUAL’, and this was clear in my presentation, as I still wanted to make sure the ppt looked really good in the colours and smart art used.

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However I do believe that reading and writing styles are vital part in successful every day workings regardless of subject or career path. The biggest issue I have with this model is the need to use for more than more than 1 style to understand . Thus it is clear that I emphasise my visual and write/read styles. And is something I should build on for anything I work on, particularly coming to mind using this style for my dissertational reading.
So something I could implement would be the following procedure, when thorough reading is not helping me ( this is the case once I have been reading for a while). Hence these steps could work together with the Speedy reading techniques to achieve my common goal of ‘Understanding all the text well to compile an effect thesis’.

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Techniques suggested by VARK:
INTAKE:





SWOT PACKAGE: Restructuring the text to support understanding and retention. Thus obtaining a more holistic picture.

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Finally, to assess your comprehension or to help with learning:

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“You want the whole picture so you are probably holistic rather than reductionist in your approach. You are often swayed by the way something looks. You are interested in colour and layout and design and you know where you are in your environment. You are probably going to draw something.”
THAT was the final statement given about my particular style and it is a clear reflection of myself, in specific about my top most style ‘VISUAL and WRITE/READ’. Both of which are truly reflected in everything I do; Look at the all my blog posts for instance J
I truly believe that these are the smallest but life changing discoveries about oneself in the present that could really affect and mould the person you become in the years to come.


Regards

Melvin


July 17, 2012

Follow Up 3: Jumping the hurdles, glimpsing the light at the end of the page !

Follow-up to Follow–up 2 : Speedy Reading from Melvin's blog


Following my last posts and updates, I have started the dreaded task of ‘Reading for the Dissertation’.10860-a-scared-young-shaking-male-bookworm-reading-a-book-about-fishing-hooks-clipart-illustration.jpg
Having a huge number of articles to read from has, and is a daunting task for me. Even though I have been improving my technique with the plethora of assignments the last 4 weeks were littered with, just the thought of reading at least a minimum of 30 articles/journals alongside other still worries me.

This update will illustrate my findings from the last 4 weeks as well as my progress on dissertational reading. Emphasising some effective techniques that I have instilled include ‘Guide: Green Pointer’, ‘Reading in smaller chunks’, ‘Supporting reading with key note taking’ as well as the ‘10 Second Gap between pages’(Allowing all the read information to sink in as well as giving a small breaking between sections).

Following the practice and use of these key techniques over the last few months, I feel I read significantly faster. This progress however was riddled with issues I have highlighted in my previous posts, the prominent of which was comprehension.

“HOW MUCH OF THE TEXT DID I UNDERSTAND AND RETAIN ! ”

This was one of my biggest areas of concern as it is vital to be able to read fast as well as understand the text enough to make a good stab at explaining about it correctly. Adding to this was the task of E-Reading. Having to read numerous journals online is an issue, as I found that I lost focus very easily whilst reading electronic material compared to using hard copy. Specifically for the electronic copy I have resorted to changing background colours to help reading, highlighting a paragraph at a time to read to avoid being overwhelmed as well as concentrate on the text, and finally using an electronic pointer.

As always I have focused on the use of instrumental music, in specific music by “Ludovico einaudi” really helps to maintain focus and elevate the effects of extended sub-vocalisation, which I have noticed I tend to do at times, when I’m tired or have been working/reading for some time. The other tools in my arsenal have included occasional use of ‘Spreeder’. However seeing that the music seems to work better I have reduced its use.

A key area that I have tried to work on over the weeks is “Peripheral Vision”. Improving in this particular area poses great benefits as using peripheral vision to the fullest would mean faster reading, which has proved useful when searching for journals and quick reading the abstracts to see how good they are. Considering I am having to reading at the very least 30 abstracts for the assignments I have had to write, the numbers for a 15,000 word dissertation would be prominently higher. Thus I extended using an online tool called “Shultz tables” to improve my peripheral vision, as it provides exercises.

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Thus to summarise, my experiences can be characterised into effective and ineffective segments, some work and some don’t. It is the effective ones I will thoroughly pursue to develop and implement to establish this invaluable skill to speed read. I know that the techniques are numerous so we can choose what fits us. Hence the techniques that didn't work for me might work for others, moreover, they might work for me sometime in the future, who knows!

In the interim, I have found my own approach to reading effectively with the help from the Speedy Reading workshop. I hope to thoroughly develop these and continually improve my speedy reading ability, by making some of these a daily practice (using guides, focus key words, no back-skipping, and review after reading)

Hence current dissertation reading strategy, especially for the journals and articles, I follow a framework as shown below.

1. Analyse the title to pick out key words and consider the subject of the paper, as well as what it is going to say. “Set a frame of mind for the topic”

2. Read the abstract/introduction and conclusion first. Underline the key words. At this stage, I can grasp the whole structure of the article, therefore having a clear guideline for reading the whole paper. “Critique article with an overview”

3. Reading the subtitle, to find my reading target, or what I am expecting from reading this article. With a clear goal, concentration and effectiveness will guide me to read with efficiency. “Find out what I need the most from the paper”

4. Make a few notes if necessary. “Support reading and comprehension at each stage”

5. After reading the whole article, ask myself what did I get from it, does it meet my expectation, which part should be useful for my study, etc. “Question understanding to analyse how effectively you have read!”

6. Give a brief summary of this article: citation information, key summary of this article, and categorize it into different subject (e.g. this paper is about leadership, I will market it and add it into the leadership category list, which is easy to find it and useful for collecting resources for a specific area study in the future). “Summarise”

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Finally, I believe “Speedy Reading” is not only a useful tool for academia, but a tool with a substantial impact on life itself, particularly in the years to come that will see a new job as well as substantially higher corporate responsibility. Therefore continuous improvement is of highest priority to continue improving my reading skills, with my long term goal to include practicing once or twice a day. All in all why wouldn't I?, I'm sure to achieve improvements, although not as dramatic as how they have been so far, but an improvement nonetheless. It was a journey in the unknown before the workshop but now I have the feeling I travel not alone and have the means to tackle the issues.


"These learning skills from the workshop are just the “STARTER”, practice is the “MAIN COURSE” and only if you can complete those two can you have the “DESERT”, the uplifting results of your hard work. ”

To me this is not the end, but the beginning of honing my reading skills with continuous leaning practice to develop myself, truly for the better. Although this will be my last blog post for this workshop, I will keep you up to date on my progress through my other blogs and hopefully if I’m allowed access to Warwick blogs after graduation too. A sincere thank you to you Han-Na for the workshop, an priceless opportunity to be missed, something I was lucky to attend during my year at Warwick.


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Best Regards

Melvin



July 04, 2012

P1 Introduction to skills develpment and WSPA



Follow-Up 1: An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Workshop Tutor: Han-Na Cha

Introduction

I wanted to attend this workshop for a long time now; I had already participated in five different workshop from the Master Skills Programme, and I thought that I have to attend the “Introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio” just because it’s a requirement for the Award, I was wrong! As it turned out to be a most informing experience, in which I was presented with various tools and techniques to gauge my skills, determine what had room for improvement and recognize my learning style. I found it very important, because up till that moment I was only deciding what workshop to attend based on intuition, now I have a scientific method.

An example, the learning styles questionnaire which reflected my learning preferences as follows (learning style followed by score):

  • Activist: 4
  • Theorist: 8
  • Reflector: 5
  • Pragmatist: 6

This showed me what areas could be improved; activism and reflections. In the action plans I shall address these.tlswheelfull_clickable.gif
However, these did not reflect perfectly my styles as I tend to be a mix of the different ones giving preference varying on situations. Considering the questionnaire gave me a low preference for the majority and only one moderate preference, is an incorrect representation of my styles. But observing the different questions I was able to pick up points to improve on, my action points.

But the workshop wasn’t all about information and work, it was fun as well, and I had the chance to connect on a much personal level than usual with other participant, because the number of students was low, which also meant that each one had the enough time to express what was on their mind, besides the Han-Na was very friendly and lively, contributing hugely to the success of this friendly workshop.

In the following part I will make my action points as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely) as possible.

Action Points

1. Taking actions towards becoming more active and pragmatic; I chose the following actions from the Learning Styles Questionnaire (Honey, P., 2008)

o Backing a hunch once in a while, rather than over analysing. Allowing myself to trust my feelings more.

o Take a challenge and try the different ways of doing things rather than being set in tried and tested ways all the time.

o Reflect on pieces of work prior to submition by having a few rough drafts .

2. Take the complete Vark questionnaire from vark-learn.com; this will hopefully help me fully understand my favoured learning styles, along with providing methods to develop my less favoured one.

3. Develop my under-developed skills; namely assertiveness, presentational and organisational, with the help of the Warwick Master Skills Programme and some practice.

Best Regards

Melvin Jose


Follow–Up 2: Presenting With Confidence

Follow-up to P4 Delivering Effective Presentations from Melvin's blog


Follow-up 2: “There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” ~ Dale Carnegie


The past weeks being quite busy led to my late update on my progress. However, these 4 weeks provided me 2 great opportunities to practise and hence subsequently improve my technique and presentational skills. During the time following my last blog, I tackled my action points in two distinct scenarios. Through the 2 presentations I worked on the 2 initial actions points:

  • Tackling initial nervousness with concentrated and calm breathing
  • Ensuring a thorough filter of all the research available to ensure a flowing story with correct and only enough information to match the time available.(MUST, COULD & SHOULD know technique).
  • Obtain correct preparation: with a systematic personalised but flowing structure alongside other tools.

Subsequently, over the weeks I was exuberant at grabbing every opportunity to apply the principles in everyday life, conversing in a presentational manner with friends and family at times. Thus enabled me to work on my other action points:

  • ‘Practise is also another point ( few sessions with loud presentations in front of the mirror or other people, as similar conditions as possible to the real thing)’

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Firstly, during conversations with friends and family, I ensured the full use of my mouth ( as you had taught the two finger approach). This helped me focus on my voice and understand the stability and power it gave to the words I spoke. Adding on to this I also added intonation and tone modulation to emphasise my point or add feeling to it, thus make my point of view more understandable. Building on this I ensured eye contact with an ‘ASSERTIVE POSTURE’ and smile, all valuable reflected in the way the audience responded positively by listening meticulously and giving their full attention Hence by using friends and family as the primary stage for practise I was able to prepare myself even before being presented with a need for a formal presentation. Nevertheless, being fortunate to have 2 presentations over these weeks allowed me to develop and actively implement these skills.

Secondly, preparing for the presentations was something I ensured I gave ample time to ( every time remembering the on the spot presentation on ‘Coventry’ I had to give during the workshop). The need for preparation was vital and so I ensured I was at least 60% ready 2 days before the presentation. Something that I have always found useful every time I become nervous was thinking back to when I had to stand on the bridge in front of the library and hum aloud. Always when I go on to present I remember the words ‘ Relax, Breathe and Smile’ prior to speaking. I must add it really has helped me to gain composure when I am very nervous. The presentations have also provides the perfect platform to use the voice intonations and modulation. Putting the experience into words is a little tough, thus I would like to share my words from a presentation, one opportunity where I spoke in the following manner:

 I understand to make our strategy a reality a lot of hurdles have to be overcome’…..PAUSE….EYE- CONTACT…….POSTURE …..’But we believe in it and we urge you to share the dream we believe in.’…..BRIEF PAUSE…..‘Thank you’ .

The presentations also gave me an opportunity to ensure a flowing story with correct and only enough information to match the time available. Whilst in a group presentation (30 minutes, 3 people) I used this tool thoroughly to ensure time keeping(as the markers were strict) and getting across the message well. As I was presentation the latter half of the presentation and thus finishing I had to reassess and filter the information needed to be conveyed without going over time.

The effect of the usage of all the tools POSTURE,PERFORMACE, PITCH, POWER and PACE etc was clearly visible as other students on numerous occasions chose me as a speaker for the group, as well as achieving a distinction for my presentation from the professors. Thus since the workshop I have put in hard work and effort into presenting with confidence. The results has changed my attitude and confidence considerably as following the workshop, over the weeks, I have become exuberant about the prospect of presenting. It has changed me as a person, making a significant difference to my life

Finally, I do believe the results are not limited to presentations, as in the case of standing up and talking, and believe these tools as well as measures will be very handy in personal branding at interviews as well as trying to convey ideas (Important as in the case of meetings with the supervisor for my thesis) something which I will be doing a lot of in the next two weeks. Even though I have downs every now and then I strive to practice, bettering myself at every chance I get because…………

“All the great speakers were bad speakers at first’’~Ralph W. Emerson

Regards

Melvin Joseman-jumping-joy-2159708.jpg




			
		
		
		

June 28, 2012

Follow–Up 2: Action point implementation

Follow-up to P3 Working In A Team from Melvin's blog

Follow-Up 2: Action point implementation

Here's a summary of how I'm getting on with my action points

  • Work at my strengths, however in times of clashes (2 shapers/both co-ordinator and shaper being present) be ready to accommodate and implement my other manageable roles.
  • Ensure I apply my preferred roles thoroughly to ensure project completion and avoidance of conflicts, whilst also making sure all the roles in the team are filled, which would give a well balanced team of ‘Thinkers, Doers, Co-ordinators and Socialisers’

During the group work sessions on my course, the neglected role that is mainly noticed is the monitor evaluator. Everyone is ready to go forward with one idea and try and finish it, but no one is ready to take a step back and see the whole picture. Luckily it is one my favoured roles and one that I implement in every group work I partake in. However, following the workshop on one of the occasions I was in a group which had 3 M.E.’s including myself. Thus at every few hours all the work done was assessed, however I realised there were clearly members missing to co-ordinate the work to be done for the presentation. We had also missing enough plants, considering this presentation was leveraged on the need for new ideas as the presentation needed ‘INNOVATION’.

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Hence I took a step back and filled in the roles, my manageable roles of ‘Co-ordinator and Plant’. This meant we were able to work much more effectively using all the personnel resources. Hence we were able to come up with an effective and innovative approach, by dividing the work amongst all of us based on our own strengths. Specifically using one of the members who is good with technology, we were able to create a unique video adding an experience to our presentation.

Thus, by formulating each person’s strengths and preferred roles as well as filling up any empty roles we ensured the presentation was completed on time, innovative ideas were formed and all the market data was evaluated effectively. Using members who were really good resource investigators and team workers to direct debates I ensured we prevented any conflicts as there were strong personalities which clashed when the ideas were critiqued. Myself being a strong shaper, I ensured I used the guidance of the socialisers (team workers and resource implementer) to ensure I didn’t offend others with my opinions/points.

Tackling the effect of the deadly 3 is still a big task to me, as at time I still end up preferring to work independently. However, as I have realised teamwork yields better results and has more benefits, I strive to tackle my instinctual nature of being a Shaper, Monitor Evaluator and Completer Finisher all the time.

Best Regards

Melvin Jose


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