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The academic endeavor should ideally be multifaceted, involving diverse methods aimed at creating cohesive entities capable of advancing their personal interests as well as the overall agenda of society as a whole. As a result, most learning programs are structured in such a manner that they promote both individual activities and teamwork and collaborative relationships. Bolton (2010) advises that all academic programs should enable each individual to establish their own purpose and identity in life through personal efforts and through connections to humanitarian systems, the natural world, and the entire community. It is against this basis that apart from ensuring that each student participates in performing individual academic responsibilities, our institution insists that students should perform some tasks in groups. The essence of this approach is to enhance interdependency and develop and improve management skills for personal development and employability.
In order to improve our management skills for personal development and employability, I was involved in a group project. The project was focused on the role that Qatar Charity UK has played in eradicating and improving the lives of the community. While working on this project, all the group members interacted with the organization with the view of learning its operations, its challenges, and sources of income among other relevant data collected. The project was a crucial activity that not only enabled me to interact better with my classmates, but also helped me to gain important insights about how organizations operate to achieve their goal. This paper will is on my individual portfolio comprising of reflections on the basis of my personal development while working on the group project. Reflection should be a guided process that aims at ringing out all the key aspects regarding the event being reflected upon; therefore, it is important to adapt an appropriate reflection model. Based on Gibbs’ reflective cycle model, this paper will take a reflective approach capturing important details on my personal and professional development using skills that can be adopted throughout my working life. Bolton (2010) observes that Gibbs’ reflective cycle is not only a popular reflective model, but also an essential guide towards an ideal and detailed reflection.
Figure 1. Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.
Source: Peters, L.A. (n.d.). Retreived from https://lilypeters.wordpress.com/action-learning/96-2/
Bolton (2010) explains that the description section of Gibbs’ reflective cycle seeks to describe when, where, and hat of the event, and that it also involves description of things as they happened and the circumstances around them. The group project was undertaken by a group of four students where we started by introduction other for the purposes of knowing each other and fostering mutual need for collaboration towards achieving the objective of the group: improving our management skills for personal development and employability. After introduction, we laid down a wide range of topics that were deemed appropriate for the project. Since three of the group members were from Qatar and thereby familiar with Qatar Charity, we all settled for it. Upon agreeing on the topic, each group member was assigned specific task to perform including conducting personalized research from the website with the aim of gaining insights into what it entailed. All members presented their key findings about the project, and this formed a basis for formulating the project plan to guide the entire project. The plan involved details on the required funding to carry out the project. In order to raise the needed funds, group members engaged in selling of goods like fruits and snacks (refer appendix Aand B). We managed to raise the required funds and proceeded to conduct the actual project. After completing the project, we compiled the report. In order to demonstrate that the project was a product of individual and collective efforts, each group member was required to make a presentation of their assigned sections. This description is based on the reference theory that requires descriptive account of what one experienced in a particular event (Bolton, 2010).
This stage focuses on the initial feelings about the event and how feelings were changing as time progressed (Bolton, 2010). Whereas ultimately I had a great feeling about the entire project and what we had achieved as a group, I had initially thought that the project would have been difficult to accomplish. Actually, I had a feeling that the project was huge and appeared cumbersome and tiresome. However, after putting up a group, we gathered courage and push to proceed with the project with the motivation to accomplish the task. The fears about the size of the task and its complex nature was subdued when we subdivided tasks among team members and everyone demonstrated resolve to perform their respective tasks diligently. As Bolton (2010) observes, when most people reflect on their projects, they appreciate the fact that starting is the most important part of any project as it helps to eliminate initial fears, and to provide impetus for performance of actions aimed at actualizing the project. My team members feel the same way about the situation; they all admit that they initially felt that the project would be difficult for them but they started to feel it is possible to accomplish it when plans were laid out and members assigned specific tasks.
According to Bolton (2010), this stage captures what was impressive or important, as well as what was difficult or caused difficult moments. It is virtually impossible to encounter a project that was ‘smooth’ and without hitches; often, most projects are characterized by good and bad experiences, all of which contribute towards accomplishments of the project goals (Bolton, 2010). The good experience inspires a sense of satisfaction among the group members, while bad experience serve as lessons to be carried forward to the next projects and help in avoiding the mistakes from the previous project. The most positive aspect of this project was the unrelenting efforts and commitment of each member towards achievement of set goals. Each member showed passion through personal initiative and diligent performance of assigned tasks. No member ever showed unwillingness or lack of drive throughout the entire exercise. It is through this commitment, enthusiasm, passion and drive that great achievements in the area of raising funds were achieved. Also, it helped in making sure that the structures of the project were not altered, and that the purpose of the project was achieved. More particularly, the project achieved its main aims and objectives including the main aim to identify some of the challenges encountered in the provision of the humanitarian services, as well as all key objectives.
The positive aspects of the project notwithstanding, there were notable negative aspects. Some things started not to go quite well at the start when we had to kick out two members because they demonstrated lack of cooperation and dedication at early stages. This implied that the number of the group had to scale down from 6 to 4. The implication of this was that the remaining members tackled more tasks and the study took relatively longer than it had initially been scheduled. In overall, the four team members played a very crucial role in contributing to the positive outcome of the project. Personally, I constantly rallied all team members towards accomplishing of their tasks. I kept motivating them to try to perform their tasks diligently and to improve on teamwork. I urged them to explore various options of achieving the same outcome.
This stage compares theory and practice by highlighting differences or similarities between this particular experience with other experiences, as well as pointing out what choices were made, wand what their effects were (Bolton, 2010). Bolton (2010) explains that conducting a project involves a number of dynamics that either aid or hinder the attainment of the intended objectives. This reality was evident in our project where while we had certain factors working for us, we had a few issues that we had to tackle to avoid them derailing our efforts and ultimately hindering the attainment of the set goals. One of the major factors that helped the project to proceed smoothly was the fact that three of the four group members came from Qatar, and had prior knowledge and information about the organization that were researching on. According to Bolton (2010), researchers with prior knowledge about the local region, as well as the cultural, political, historical, and economic dynamics relating to a particular phenomenon are better-placed to effectively and efficiently undertake a research than those with limited knowledge on the same phenomenon. The knowledge of three team members on Qatar and Qatar Charity UK made our interactions, communication and coordination with local staff of the organization easier thereby easily achieving the desired outcomes. They had knowledge of the locations where the organization’s offices were located and therefore made our logistics to be efficient as we did not face challenges of moving to and from various locations. Also, due to their good knowledge of Qatar, we were able to get affordable accommodation thus helping us to save on the costs.
This stage seeks to find out what one would do if similar situation happens again in the future (Bolton, 2010). Undoubtedly, the project that our group undertook on Qatar Charity UK was interesting, insightful, and useful. It provided each of us with valuable experience that improved our knowledge on team work, management, personal development, thus enhancing our employability. Going into the future, there are a number of actions that our team members can take to deal with similar situations more efficiently and effectively in the future. Based on the experience from this particular project, the suggested future changes are in the areas of leadership, communication and analytical skills. While I was able to execute my leadership roles quite well especially in harnessing the commitments of team members, I realized that I will need to hone my leadership skills further so as to achieve better results with higher efficiency. Similarly, I became aware of the need to improve my communication skills; the reason why we kicked the two members from the group can largely be attributable to ineffective communication. With effective communication, it would have been possible to iron out some issues that made it difficult for the group to accommodate them in the first place. More importantly, I consider improved development in the area of analytical skills to be necessary. This will allow for engaging in processes that are aimed at encompassing a variety of critical aspects in future projects.
Bolton (2010) observes that this stage aims at drawing important lessons which can be carried into the future. Bolton (2010) advises that the essence of any reflection exercise is to draw important conclusions regarding what happened so as to appreciate lessons learnt and to strive towards improving skills necessary to achieve better results and outcomes in the future. All the four group members appreciate the fact that indeed undertaking this project and accomplishing it within the set timelines was a great experience. Each member is of the view that it was a useful and positive experience where everyone was actively involved and contributed through personal efforts and initiatives. Nonetheless, they are of the view that this would have been a more positive experience for all who were involved. Their view is informed by the consideration that if we had planned for the project for a relatively longer period the outcomes and results would have been much better. Proper planning is essential for the attainment of better results and outcomes in a project (Bolton, 2010). The members feel that the planning for the project should have began from the previous semester to allow members to raise more funds and to prepare adequately. Also, early preparation might have helped to reign on the two members and shape them to become diligent and dedicated members; however, due to the short period, we did not have time to tolerate mediocrity as it would have affected the performance of the group.
It is in the light of the aforementioned conclusions that the group members argue that if they were faced with similar situation again, they would do a number of things differently. In particular, they say that they would plan for the funding of the project differently; they will use a mix of approaches other than selling items to raise money. For example, after identifying the organization to research on, they will develop a grant proposal to request for funds from organizations that sponsor such causes or academic research. Such organizations may include government agencies, university, or non-governmental organizations. The other thing that they will do differently would be the methods used in conducting the research; in order to reduce the workload on the part of the group, the team members suggested that they can engage local students in helping them to conduct the research especially if the number of respondents is higher. Bolton (2010) supports such an approach saying that it not only helps to reduce the workload, but also helps in integrating local knowledge and experience thus giving the study new and valuable insights.
Finally, I am deeply convinced that this project has been and will be useful in improving my management skills for personal development and employability. It was a challenging project that called for dedication, cooperation, agility, persistence, consistency, and focus in order to achieve the set goals and objectives. All these qualities are important in social and working life. I consider this project just as the beginning to real-life experiences essential in shaping my character, skills and abilities towards being an exemplary performer and employee who contributes greatly towards the attainment of goals for the organization that I will be working for.
All the activities that I undertook for the project, individually and collectively, coupled with god and bad experiences helped in improving my skills in a number of competency areas. First, they helped in improving my management skills; through the activities I enhanced my team building, motivational, leadership, and communication skills. Secondly, while trying to navigate through the challenges and problems in the project, I was able to improve my problem-solving and critical skills. I developed the ability of analyzing facts, as well as situations of determining the cause of a problem, along with coming up with appropriate solutions to address these problems. Thirdly, since the project was research-oriented, my research skills were improved whereby I have better ability in analyzing and evaluating a range of business data and proper methodologies aimed at achieving evidence-based research and decision-making. Besides, the project enhanced my commercial acumen skills based on the awareness of how Qatar Charity UK runs its operations toward achieving its goals. More importantly, this project improved my innovation and creativity ability; I now appreciate more the need to explore various options when faced with a particular situation.
Bolton, G. (2010). Reflective practice: Writing and professional development. SAGE.
(Picture of group members selling goods to raise funds for the project)
(Items for Sale)
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