The 21st century has established itself as an environment of constant change, from the political and economic turmoil of emerging nations to the newest electronic device or application that infiltrates our daily lives. Adaption is key and, as we try to manage our professional and personal lives alongside, it requires a different type of mindset. Now, when we try to project for the future, individuals prepare themselves for a plan that is subject to change and this is a good thing. Reflecting back on my own life, I know I could not imagine to be where I am now, writing a blog and practicing as an intercultural trainer. In fact, back in grade school I did not know of such a peculiar profession as “intercultural communications trainer” existed and a “blog” was a word yet be invented.
It has not been a straight path. It took many turns and I suspect it may take many more both physically and psychologically. Spiral careers in comparison to linear careers can reflect a person that offers a broad spectrum of knowledge and a diverse skill set. It means that adaptability has likely been conditioned into their professional DNA. Noe (2013) discusses having “boundaryless” plans or goals that include many personal and professional influences. By this, it means the ability to create positive partnerships that facilitate both parties towards reaching meaningful goals. After all, we are not on this journey alone and people need each other to get to wherever they are headed.
With this approach in mind, setting up a sound personal development plan has four simple steps (Noe, 2013): self-assessment, reality check, goal setting and action planning. Here is a look at my professional development plan which I have set up designed with my employer in mind as a complimentary partner in the process (see Appendix A for My Personal Development Plan Chart).
Self-assessment is a critical first step for understanding where I currently sit in terms of strength and weaknesses relative to my personal interests and values and those of my company. For me, this would involve identifying any knowledge and performance gaps related to the dual directions of intercultural communications and global leadership training (GLT) relative to the strategic needs of my company. Recently, I completed a Cultural Orientations Indicator™ designed by the Thunderbird School of Management which reveals work preferences that sit on a continuum to indicate polar strengths of opposing cultural orientations.
A reality check considers the results of the self-assessment. This could be done in a personal development interview with management to discuss which gaps can be addressed and are feasible within the strategic vision of the organization. Developing this relationship is an essential ongoing part of the process.
Goal setting is part of that dialogue and they should be smart (meaning they are specific), measurable, relevant and timely (Noe, 2013). Goals set in both the short term and long term must be flexible enough to accommodate changes in personal and professional contexts. For example, if a performance gap is confirmed in group collaboration skills, my immediate goal may involve increasing my professional experience to enhance competencies in shared processing.
Action planning requires a schedule of staged specific activities that are needed to address the performance gaps. The plan must be structured sufficiently to visualize the goals, but sensibly open to interim assessment, training, networking and experience opportunities. Leadership activities could include a temporary job enlargement or a mentoring program with another GLT trainer.
As a final note, I would stress that constant communication and monitoring are key. It serves to cultivate a learning culture that is based on care and trust. Cameron (2008) suggests personal management interviews (PMIs) which occur monthly and follow agendas specific to both the employee and organization as an excellent vehicle for demonstrating commitment to the learning progress. It follows in the vein of creating a culture of positivity or positive organizational scholarship (Cameron, 2008).
Cameron, K.S. (2008). Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Thunderbird School of Management, (2013). Cultural Orientations Indicator, COI™
My Personal Development Plan
Name: Jude Lee Title: Intercultural Trainer Manager: Mr. XXX
Competencies: Based on COI™, work preference orientations report in (TMS, 2013)
My three greatest strengths:
• interpersonal communications and relations
• analytical thinking and attention to detail
• time management and results orientation
Areas for improvement:
• single focused and sequentially ordered tasks rather than multi-focused
• individualistic sense of self over a group orientation
• Long term: Accept opportunities leadership training experience that will enhance my competencies as a Global Leadership Consultant
• Short term: Increase my experience and skills in intercultural communication including seminars delivered abroad.
• Continuing half day seminar series with global R&D company
• Three day co-training seminar in culture and global leadership for global travel organization: Dec 2014
Training and Development Needs
• Increased training specific to organization’s program on global leadership consulting will enhance my multi-focus skills in delivering leadership and cultural content more effectively. Longer seminars increases my competency in facilitating larger groups.
• Doctorate courses or research related to current cultural or leadership issues allows me to respond to culture specific and specialized global issues in increasingly blended settings.