Whooo! I logged back in my school site to work on the final and found a new grade waiting for me! It was a simple discussion board post in response to our first residency weekend with this particular professor, whom I found aggressive and the weekend was frustrating. This was the weekend full of self assessments. I know you’ll have no context of the professor or the weekend, but here is my perfect score post!
During our second residency weekend there were several moments that elicited an a-ha reaction. I was able to apply moments from the weekend to concepts from the textbook, such as psychological contracts from Chapter 3 and organizational climates from Chapter 10, and had moments of reflection that were not represented in the text, such as thinking differently about self assessments. Having taken time to reflect on the weekend, my take aways have evolved from less of a place of how I “felt” about them to what I “know” about them.
The first a ha moment was a struggle over expectations about the graduate school program overall. For years I have coached managers with the phrase, “Clear expectations are the number one driver of performance.” This encourages leaders to ensure they have provided clear direction and definitions of success when assigning a task or goal. Personally, I love to have clear expectations and any one of my supervisors will attest to answering the questions, “What does success look like? What are my measurable objectives?” on my first day in a new job or on a new project. The concept of organizational climate, “a measure of the extent to which people’s expectations about what it should be like to work in an organization are being met,” (Bowditch, Buono, & Stewart, p. 335) which focuses on individual perceptions of a learning environment was where I struggled this weekend. A combination of the type of learner I am and personality I have, lead me to desire professor led facilitation for the majority of the weekend. I need someone to tell me what the rules of the game are before playing. That was not the same goal Dr. Wheeler had for the weekend. I like a systematic approach to instruction – review concepts from text, apply to real life scenarios, form plans to apply in our own life. I left Sunday afternoon very frustrated because my personal expectations for the class were not met in the way I wanted them to be met. As I drove an hour to return a rental car, catch a plane, fly home I had second thoughts about investing in a program that aggravated me so much.
As I’ve thought about how to answer this question for most of this week, I reviewed the text chapters, started reading the next assigned chapters and put some distance between the weekend and the learning. It was then that I could apply Dr. Wheeler’s classroom methods with Organizational Behavior and Psychology. Self directed learning is going to require that I manage my own expectations. This applies to my future in organizational development in that my clients will often have different expectations than me also. They will have different ways of finding a solution, they may have different ideas about what the organizational changes are. It’s not up to me to get my way in these scenarios, but to work with what is in front of me. It took all week to get there, but once I did, my aggravation and frustration dissipated and I’m ready to come back in March.
My second a ha moment came not from one particular self-assessment that we completed, but from the discussion that followed the debrief of the assessments. Our cohort discussed the impracticality of having every person we interact with take a self assessment prior to having a conversation with them so we learn their style. Of course that is not realistic, but the intent is good. I have always felt the real value in self assessments was not increased self awareness, but the ability it gave me to approach others in a way that was best suited for them. For example, understanding that if my employee is an introvert they would want to be rewarded and recognized differently than a more outgoing employee. I have had colleagues with different communication needs and I work very hard to manage to what other people need, not what is comfortable for me to give. I was very surprised with the results of my assessments. I’m also surprised when people use theirs as a shield for noncooperative team behavior. For example, a colleague who is blunt and forceful and steamrolls others may hurt feelings, but excuses the behavior with, “Well, that’s just who I am!” I’m very sensitive to not letting who “I am” interfere with what others need. I think that has led to a very low self awareness. I was shocked to find my pragmatic score on the Philosophical Orientation Questionnaire as high as it was. Me? Pragmatic? If I don’t spend time to define my values and attitudes it will harder to find the right fit with organizations going forward. I’ll experience more cognitive dissonance in my career and won’t be able to tap in to my strengths.
I did not anticipate these being the takeaways from the class when I started the weekend. It was a residency that stretched my comfort level. I understand that I will need to take more ownership of my education if I want to get everything I desire out of these classes. The greatest overall takeaway is about managing expectations, mine and others, which I can do through developing my own self awareness.