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CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE NEED TO BECOME A REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONER
As an employee, it is significant to continually seek ways to improve yourself. The skills and talent that you have, in the changing market can become outdated and in turn translate to less productivity (Wilson 1960). For each company, the human resource is perhaps the best essential and important asset of the organization. However, in order for an asset to continue bringing greater advantage and leading to potential business growth, it must continually develop, becoming more skilled and flexible (Academy of Human Resource Development 1999).
Unlike common belief, CPD is not a process that can be easily defined. In fact, the process is unique to each individual employee. Although employees maybe working together, in the Tesco branches, facing the same challenges and opportunities, the process of CPD according to Wexley & Hinrichs (1991) needs to be differentiated from other training and development needs. The company has developed a strategy where the individual employees, are able to evaluate their own work and skills so that they are able to become better and more productive.
Reflective practice is the most vital part of CPD and includes two fundamental forms of reflection that is the reflection in action and reflection on action. The main difference arises from the time frame, reflection on action, is a backward look at situations, reactions and behavior in the past (Bratton & Gold 2000). Employees draw from the behavior and opt to change or improve for better service delivery. On the other hand, reflection in action requires the Tesco employees interacting with consumers, to think as they act. This is for the employees in the customer care department ho may need to continually explore their own behavior, reacting and attending to the current situation immediately (Torrington 1998).
The process of reflective practice and CPD involves various steps which have been taken into consideration by Tesco, the biggest retail company.
As a retail business, Tesco encourages its own employees to continually seek and receive feedback from the clientele. Such feedback began as a process of helping the company improve on the timeliness and nature of service delivery (Brine 2005). However, today as employees interact more and more with clients, these same clients can be a good source of feedback on behavior and skills that the employees poses. The company needs to provide an environment where the clients are free enough to provide honest feedback to the employees, and where employees take this feedback as positive instead of completely negative. Criticism is not just a reflection on negativity, but an opportunity to improve (Brockbank & McGill 2006p.105).
Harris and Desimone (1994) indicated that Feedback is not only sought from the clients but also from fellow employees. Recent changes in the training and development strategy of the company has led to the introduction of sessions where employees can make positive suggestions to each other on behavior improvement. It is important to ensure that these sessions, however, do not turn into negativity and opportunities to criticize each other unconstructively. For this explanation, it is prudent to hire a professional to direct the feedback; however, once the employees have mastered the basic skills of feedback, these are translated into an everyday activity (Thomson & Mabey 1994).
According to Verdict Research (2006p.381), Tesco employees face a wide variety of experiences daily. A retail store deals with different clientele daily. The workers should be in a position to view their past experiences, objectively breaking them down in order to be able to learn from the same. For example, Swanson & Holton (2009) suggested that the employees can be trained to recall the experiences that they recently had with a customer on the retail zone or in the customer care department, even delivery of goods, then carefully observe and listen to exactly what they said thereby determining what they could have done better. This is a significant part of learning and improving behavior.
Mankin (2009) highlighted that this is one characteristic that also allows employees to develop empathy. They are able to experience emotionally and physically what their clients experienced and, therefore, plan on ways that they can be able to improve the experience of the clients, whether it is by making service delivery faster, easier, and more comfortable or by saying something differently. Companies whose employees have mastered this skill are often rated highly in terms of customer service.
Like developing a properly trained strategy, Stephpenson et al (2012) observed that there are times that the company may need to push and show employees how to reflective objectively. This may require some meetings, training session where the company employees are taken through some experience objectively. The human resource asset is completely based on the commitment of employees. The employees need the tools and resources to go through their past experiences objectively and learn from their mistakes as well as the opportunities that were presented to them (Dessler 2000).
According to Sergiovanni (1987), few companies understand the value of journal keeping among the employees. While it may seem like a trivial and small exercise, it is a vital stage in recording the lessons that have been learnt during the improvement exercise. Employees can easily learn something but after a while forget how and what they learnt exactly. With a journal, they are able to learn properly, remember bad recall experiences that have contributed to their own learning (Swanson and Holton 2009p.56).
Tesco has elaborate training departments where employees’ skills are improved and new behavior is installed. With a journal, employees can be able to record exactly what they have learnt and incidences where the lessons have been used at work. This increases the sense of ownership, on the decisions and new characters developed over time (SchöN 1983).
As professionals employees have the task of ensuring that the employees’ skills and knowledge are updated. CPD journals help to keep them accountable so that they are able to make a reflection on what they have learned and situations here they have failed to apply the lessons that they have learned. Johns (2004p.119) recommended that periodically employees come together and do some .............
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