Career & Work


Do you want to learn more faster? Well you need to determine your learning style. Here’s how ….

learning-cycle

An interesting post over on Zen Habits prompted me to dig out my occupational psychology notes, specifically those to do with effective learning.

Leo is an advocate of the “just do it approach”, but that may not always be appropraite.

Consider, for example, the David Kolb model based on Experiential Learning Theory, as explained in his book Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development

Our learning style is a based on your preferences in approaching a task and how you respond to the experence.

So do you prefer gaining new information by thinking, analyzing, or planning (‘abstract conceptualization’ – ‘thinking‘) or through experiencing the ‘concrete, tangible, felt qualities of the world’ (‘concrete experience’ – ‘feeling’)?

Then do you prefer to watch others involved in the experience and reflecting on what happens (‘reflective observation’ – ‘watching’) or just  ‘jump straight in’ and just doing it (‘active experimentation’ – ‘doing’)?

According to Kolb’s model, the ideal learning process engages all four of these modes in response to situational demands. For learning to be effective, all four of these approaches must be incorporated.

As individuals attempt to use all four approaches, however, they tend to develop strengths in one experience-grasping approach and one experience-transforming approach.

The resulting learning styles are combinations of the individual’s preferred approaches. This adds additional dimensions to the basic cycle presented:

learningcycle

Learning Styles

These learning styles are as follows:

  1. Converger;
  2. Diverger;
  3. Assimilator;
  4. Accomodator;
  • Convergers are characterized by abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. They are good at making practical applications of ideas and using deductive reasoning to solve problem
  • Divergers tend toward concrete experience and reflective observation. They are imaginative and are good at coming up with ideas and seeing things from different perspectives
  • Assimilators are characterized by abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. They are capable of creating theoretical models by means of inductive reasoning
  • Accommodators use concrete experience and active experimentation. They are good at actively engaging with the world and actually doing things instead of merely reading about and studying them.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Diverger

Tracks VergeStrengths

  • imaginative thinker
  • uses own experience
  • looks at situations from many different perspectives
  • brings coherence to a mass of information
  • sees relationships between things, grasps the whole picture
  • wide-ranging interests
  • good at listening and sharing
  • likes to get involved in the experience/information directly and then reflect on it
  • enjoys brainstorming and generation of ideas/altematives
  • likes social interaction/discussion/group work
  • aware of people’s feelings
  • wants to see the whole picture before examining the parts

Weaknesses

  • frustrated by action plans
  • waits too long before getting started
  • easily distracted
  • can be too easy going
  • sometimes indecisive
  • cannot see the trees for the wood
  • forgets important details
  • only works in bursts of energy

Assimilator

ASSIMILATEStrengths

  • precise
  • good at creating theoretical models
  • very thorough
  • sets clear goals
  • enjoys ideas and thinking them through
  • analytical, logical
  • interested in facts and details
  • applies theories to problems/situations
  • good at bringing different theoretical viewpoints to critique a situation
  • examines facts carefully
  • likes collecting data
  • sequential thinker
  • specialist interest
  • avid reader
  • uses past experience constructively
  • sees links between ideas
  • thinks things through
  • well organised
  • plans in advance
  • enjoys didactic teaching
  • happy to rework essays/notes
  • works well alone

Weaknesses

  • needs too much information before starting work or giving opinion
  • reluctant to try anything new
  • likes to do things in a set way, lets go of the past reluctantly
  • gets bogged down in theory
  • does not trust feelings, trusts only logic
  • needs to know what the experts think
  • overcautious, will not take risks
  • not very comfortable in group discussion
  • does not make use of friends/teachers as resources

Converger

Hit The RoadStrengths

  • practical application of ideas
  • decisive
  • integrates theory and practice
  • enjoys solving problems in a common-sense way
  • likes to try things out
  • feels happiest when there is a correct answer/solution
  • draws references from experience
  • good  at using skills and tinkering with things
  • focuses clearly on specific problems
  • able to see where theory has any practical relevance
  • moves from parts to whole
  • thorough
  • works well alone
  • goal setting and action plans
  • strategic thinking
  • knows how to find information
  • gets things done on time
  • not easily distracted
  • organises time well
  • systematic notes/files
  • reads instructions carefully

Weaknesses

  • intolerant of woolly ideas
  • not always patient with other people’s suggestions
  • resents being given answers
  • tends to think their way is the only way of doing something
  • needs to control and do it alone
  • details get in the way sometimes, cannot see the wood for the trees
  • not good at suggesting altematives/lacks imagination
  • getting the job done sometimes overrides doing it well
  • not concerned very much about presentation of work
  • needs to know how things they are asked to do will help in real life

Accommodator

Danger, Will Robinson!Strengths

  • testing experience, trial and error
  • committed to action
  • very flexible
  • wide-ranging interests
  • enjoys change, variety
  • willing to take risks
  • looks for hidden possibilities and excitement
  • not worried about getting it wrong by volunteering/asking questions
  • gets others involved
  • learns from others, quite prepared to ask for help
  • gets involved in something which sparks their interest
  • uses gut reactions
  • often gets right answer without logical justification
  • wants to see whole picture before examining the parts

Weaknesses

  • tries too many things at once
  • tends not to plan work
  • poor time management, leaves things till the last minute
  • not very interested in details
  • does not check work or rework it
  • jumps in too quickly without thinking things through
  • sometimes seen as pushy.

Which learning style are you?


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direct_communication

People in organizations typically spend over 75% of their time in an interpersonal situation; thus it is no surprise to find that at the root of a large number of organizational problems is poor communications. Effective communication is an essential component of organizational success whether it is at the interpersonal, intergroup, intragroup, organizational, or external levels.

  1. Stand up and be counted. Research shows that those with the courage to speak out are listened to, respected and rewarded. Dare to have the conversations that others shy away from.
  2. Get ready. Prevent difficult conversations from becoming emotionally charged. Ask yourself ‘What do I want to achieve here?’ before you go into the conversation. The answer can act as a reminder to pull back from an argumentative stance.
  3. Start with the facts. Sharing your feelings is a powerful way to express why something is important to you, but differentiate between facts [the report has three errors in it), assumptions [it was clearly done at the last minute] and emotions [I feel let down]. Facts are indisputable, so are easier to share first.
  4. Describe actual behaviours. If delivering constructive criticism, avoid the infamous ‘feedback sandwich’ [good-bad-good]. It comes across as disingenuous and dilutes the impact of your message.
  5. Allow time for reflection. Give people the chance to respond, but don’t force them: arrange to talk about it later.
  6. Open up. Listen without showing any negative or defensive emotions [this will be difficult, but is essential]. Show that you understand not only what they are saying but how they feel.
  7. Collaborate. When asked about the turning point in the Cold War, Gorbachev replied that the crucial moment came at the 1986 Reykjavik summit with Reagan. This was the first time the leaders had entered into genuine dialogue, sharing their values, assumptions and aspirations. Their resulting trust and understanding began to reverse the nuclear arms race. Ask questions and work together without judgment.
  8. Keep moving. If you can’t agree on an issue, don’t waste hours debating it. This conflict quicksand will get you nowhere. Park the issue and move on – you can always come back to it.

What do you think? Have I missed any points? Please leave your comments below:

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manager

Poor management is rife in the UK workplace with nine out of 10 employees claiming to have worked for a bad manager. And the problem is getting worse.

MANAGEMENT: A class of semi-skilled corporate hirelings whose rise within the organization correlates directly with the amount of work they delegate to their more talented underlings. ~ Rick Bayan, The Cynic’s Dictionary

In a poll half of the people surveyed blamed their boss for making their blood boil and causing the most anxiety at work.

Bad bosses give rise to stress which could have a dramatic effect on workers’ morale.

david_dance2_1024

Nearly one in four bosses in the UK were thought of as bad or dreadful, it suggested, indicating that “there is a direct link between how employees view their bosses and how they feel about their jobs”.

58% of those polled said they had looked for another job because of their boss.

YOu can download a presentation on how to become a great manager by clicking on this link:

http://www.box.net/shared/vra22seqdy

But while you’re working on becoming a great manager isn’t it time that you get your boss working for you?

Here’s how:

1. Meet regularly and bring your own agenda:

At the very least you can combine content and you will probably end up deciding what is discussed, which puts you on the front foot.

2. Tell your boss what he/she does that helps you

This will encourage them to repeat their constructive behaviour and puts you in the ‘traditional’ boss role.

3. Share credit for your achievements with your boss

This shows a confidence and generosity normally associated with the person in the senior role.

4. Keep close to the rest of the team

Your boss will want to be informed about who is doing what, and the rest of the team will want a colleague who takes an interest, especially if you’re the one who is really in charge.

5. Go for the middle ground

If you are asked to do too much, explain the consequences and suggest alternatives rather than agreeing or refusing point blank.

6. Be sympathetic and supportive when things go wrong

It’s lonely being the boss and support from the team is appreciated long after the low moments have passed.

7. Ask for advice

You don’t need to incorporate everything they say but include some points and play up the importance of their contribution.

8. Deal with ad hoc requests flexibly but firmly

Channel them into your regular meeting where possible. If you can manage the process by which you and your boss make decisions you will soon end up managing the relationship.

9. Ask for feedback on your performance

Causing your boss to articulate what they think you do well will help them appreciate it. Embracing any suggestions that they make for you to improve will show that you are keen to learn.

10. Give it time

This is a long game so don’t give up. Most people wish their life was easier – your boss will soon be grateful to be playing to your tune, even if they don’t quite realise that this is what they’re doing.

11. Beat the Clock

Most bosses are pretty consistent on the time they get into your office. Take note. If yours always arrives at 7.50 – get there at 7.45 (even if your official start time is 8).

Bonus to you: Arriving earlier than the boss makes you look keen and eager. Plus, when you’re skiving on Twitter or Facebook later in the day, you can justify it to yourself by those 15 extra minutes in the morning.

12. Say “Good Morning!”

However hungover, knackered or grumpy you’re feeling first thing in the morning, plaster a great big smile on your face and say, “Good Morning!” to your boss.

Bonus to you: Two friendly words can go a long way in putting you in your boss’s good books first thing in the day. And (if you’re following the first tip), your boss will know you’re in the office bright and early.

13. Volunteer Strategically

If you’re in a meeting and someone asks for volunteers, be the first to put your hand up. That way, you’ll look keen and engaged. This will be a tough one to swallow if your workload is already jammed but volunteering for the right, high visibility project can increase the perception of you.

Bonus to you: You’ll ­­get the task you want (i.e. the one with least effort but highest visibility) and not get lumbered with what the boss assigns you.

14. Be the Printer Guru

Even if it’s nothing at all to do with your job description, learn where the spare ink/toner is kept and how to fit it. When there’s a paper jam or error, get someone to show you what to do.

Bonus to you: When your boss is running around in a flap before a big meeting, you’ll be the hero who fixes his very-important-report-won’t-print crisis.

15. Say “Thanks”

Been given a pay raise, promotion or extra day’s holiday – or even just some of your boss’s valuable time and advice? Make sure you say “thanks”. If possible, thank him/her at the time, and follow up with a short note to express your appreciation.

Bonus to you: It takes ten minutes of your time and perhaps a couple of dollars to buy a “Thank You” card for your boss. If you feel strange with this one because a man giving a man a card is out of the norm, just send an email. In the end, it’s the thought that really counts here. Guess who’ll be first on his mind when the next round of pay-raises comes along?

16. Make Coffee

This will make most of the people in the office like you, not just your boss. However for you boss, occasionally take a minute to say “I’m just making myself a coffee, can I get you one?” (doing so multiple times per day will have the opposite effect as you’re labeled as a brown-noser).

Bonus to you: For virtually zero effort, you give your boss the impression that you’re a considerate, friendly employee who cares about him/her – bosses often feel unloved.

17. Use The Right Jargon

Pay extra-close attention to the buzzwords that your boss uses. Drop these into the things you say at meetings, and into your emails. This isn’t a chance to play buzzword bingo – what you want to demonstrate is that you’re on the same wavelength as your boss.

Bonus to you: Sometimes you can get away with something with just the right words. You’re not filing your emails for lack of anything better to do – you’re “implementing new communication management protocols to further the client-company relationship”.

18. Create Procedures

Closely related to using the right buzzwords is creating the right procedures – that is, any which get you out of hot water. If something goes pear-shaped at work, explain that it was “due to a procedural error” or “a fault in the procedure”. Then, try to correct the process.

Bonus to you: Explaining that the same mistake can’t possibly happen again “once I’ve changed the procedure” makes your boss think you’re on top of everything. Even when you so, so aren’t.

19. Leave An Email Trail

If you’re ever working from home, a cunning way to demonstrate how many hours you’re (supposedly) putting in is to make sure that your boss is the recipient of, or copied in to, at least one of your emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Bonus to you: Your boss will think you’ve been hard at work between that first email at 7.30am and that last one at 9.00pm. You actually sent that first email in your jammies (and went straight back to bed), then took the afternoon off to catch a movie…

20. Fake Enthusiasm

Even if your job is as dry as dust, fake enthusiasm wherever possible. Plaster a big smile on your face and wave your hands around when enthusing to customers or colleagues about your company.

Bonus to you: Your boss will think you’re truly (and possibly even a bit madly) dedicated to your job. You might find yourself enjoying it more by being enthusiastic, too.

What do you think?  Have I missed any points?  Please leave your comments below:

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Humble Duck
photo credit: anw.fr

Humility helps you develop as a person and enjoy richer relationships with others.

In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself…For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.” – Benjamin Franklin

1. Open up

Get the most out of your team by welcoming their views. Appreciate everyone’s contribution and you’ll create more innovative solutions, together.

2. Go for gold, not glory

Author Jim Collins compared the performance of high-profile CEOs with those who stay out of the limelight, and found that it’s results, not status, that count. Focus on your role, not your profile.

3. Don’t tell, show

You don’t have to be full of charisma, but simply demonstrate the high standards you expect. Inspiring behaviour can be more powerful than an inspiring speech.

4. Let others shine

Deflect discussions about yourself by praising the contributions of others. Lou Gerstner, who stopped IBM from crumbling in the ’90s, illustrates this:

Change came to IBM in large part due to the pride and energy of the employees themselves… My role was to kick-start the process.

5. Have faith

Coleman Mockler turned Gillette around, and retained remarkable balance in his work and home life – even during the darkest times of takeover crisis. His secret? Trusting the team that he’d assembled. Cultivate a team of experts and they’ll build greatness, even when you’re not there.

6. Selectively reveal weaknesses

Let people see that you’re human and they’ll feel comfortable working on*their own weaknesses. Don’t gloss over imperfections and you’ll motivate others to get to where you are now.

7. Ask for feedback

David Pottruck, former CEO of Charles Schwab, found that his long workdays and aggression made colleagues and family resent him. By his third marriage he had the answer: ask for feedback on a regular basis.

8. Step back

Create something that will live on, long after you’ve moved on. One humble CEO said:

I want to look from my porch, see the company as one of the great companies in the world, and be able to say: “I used to work there.

What do you think? Have I missed any points? Please leave your comments below:

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