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Writing reports – part 2 - Strategies for development

Understand and then develop a plan for learning

Any area of management will benefit from self development and project management is no exception.

Activists learn more if they are:

Involved in new experiences, problems and opportunities.
Switching activities regularly to keep their thinking fresh.
Instigating conversations with new people.
Working with others in business games, thinking aloud, team tasks and role-playing.
Being thrown in the deep end with a difficult task.
Chairing meetings, leading discussions.

Activists learn less if they are:

Listening to lectures or long explanations.
Reading, writing or thinking on their own.
Absorbing and understanding data.
Following precise instruction to the letter.

Reflectors learn best if they are:

Observing individuals or groups at work including verbal and non verbal skills.
Given the opportunity to review what has happened and think about what they have learned.
Maintaining a diary of events and learning by them.
Producing analyses and reports doing tasks without tight deadlines.
Going to the local library to research data.
Reviewing actions from meetings to see if there is anything to learn.
Practicing their writing, putting it to one side and reviewing it at a later date.
Rehearse the pros and cons for a particular cause and may be use these in a discussion.

Reflectors learn less if they are:

Acting as leader or role-playing in front of others.
Doing things with no time to prepare.
Being thrown in at the deep end.
Being rushed or worried by deadlines.

Theorists learn best if they are:

Put in complex situations where they have to use their skills and knowledge.
In structured situations with clear purpose.
Reading something intellectual and significant each day and try to summarise it.
Asking delving questions.
Offered interesting ideas or concepts even though they are not immediately relevant.
Looking for plusses and minuses in the arguments of others.
Given the chance to question and probe ideas behind things.
Analysing the reasons behind complex situations.
Trying to understand the underlying assumptions for particular theories.
Making sure you have an agenda at a meeting and structuring it well.

Theorists learn less if they are:

Allowed to participate in situations which emphasise emotion and feelings.
Involved in an activity that is unstructured or briefing is poor.
Doing things without knowing the principles or concepts involved.
Out of tune with the other participants e.g. with people of very different learning styles.

Pragmatists learn best if they are:

Given an obvious link between the topic and job.
Given the chance to acquire and try out techniques with feedback e.g. role-playing.
Shown techniques with obvious advantages e.g. saving time.
Given the opportunity to create plans, milestones, objectives and deadlines.
Shown a model they can copy e.g. a film or a respected boss or methods others use.
Have access to the use of a coach [see 'The Complete Motivation package‘].
Driven to learn new skills outside work.

Pragmatists learn less if they are:

Aware of no obvious or immediate benefit that they can recognise.
Unaware of any practice or guidelines on how to do it.
Not aware of any apparent pay back to the learning e.g. shorter meetings.
Being exposed to an event or learning that is 'all theory'.

Many people have a mixture of styles of learning but it can be useful to identify the predominant or strongest one.
Once you have a better idea of your strengths and failings you can plan your personal development better.

Examples of areas to develop

You might wish to consider if you have experienced any of the following and, if not, can you gain that experience.
You will come across many types of learning during your project management experience.

  • Brainstorm
  • Whole group teaching
  • Surveys
  • Tasks and challenges
  • Computer based learning
  • Work experience, including work sharing
  • Lectures and general presentations
  • Videos
  • Games or role play
  • Use of case studies
  • Debating
  • Via interviews

Time management

Report writing takes time and planning to meet appropriate deadlines.
Many of these aspects will be found in 'The Complete Time Management package'.

The package shows you how to assess your current use of time and provides many techniques for improvement by the use of time logs, delegation, how to say ‘no’, prioritising work and meeting skills, as well as much more.

Good time management will reduce stress.
It will be of considerable use both in your personal life as well as at work for project management.