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Introduction

This reflective report provides a comprehensive evaluation of my development of core skills during 5 weeks of team challenges and collaborative learning activities completed as part of a business management course. The sessions incorporated a diverse range of interactive group tasks, including working together to create an airline start-up, which was designed to stretch abilities vital for excelling both academically and in future professional roles. This report will utilize Gibbs’ reflective cycle as a model for structured analysis of growth in three particular skill domains – verbal communication, complex problem solving, and presentation/IT aptitude. Systematically applying Gibbs’ six-stage framework for reflective learning will enable insightful assessment of my experiences and achievements within these activities, while identifying any limitations requiring further improvement. Detailing this process will illustrate the tangible enhancement of my competencies over this initial intensive learning period.

Communication Skills

The initial sessions highlighted my need to improve verbal communication confidence when collaborating in teams. I observed that more vocal teammates would dominate group discussions while I struggled to articulate my perspectives or ideas. However, by consciously focusing on projecting conviction and clarity when presenting suggestions to the team, I became able to contribute more actively and equally during debates. As highlighted by Gamble and Gamble (2020), displaying empathy when listening intently to others fosters openness and supports effective, respectful communication between team members. I also made an effort to practice reflective listening skills by paraphrasing my teammates’ proposals back to them, to ensure mutual understanding and prevent misinterpretations (Rogers, 2019).

Evaluating this experience using the ‘feelings’ stage of Gibbs’ reflective model (Gibbs, 2017), I realized that taking the initiative to communicate my viewpoint made me feel significantly more creatively engaged and fulfilled through participating more actively in the team activities. This links closely to wider research which emphasizes communication as a fundamental competency underpinning successful collaboration in teams, building trust between members, and resolving complex interpersonal conflicts or disagreements (Marques, 2020). Refining my verbal communication skills is undoubtedly key to enhancing my contributions and succeeding at both current and future university group assignments which rely heavily on discussion-based learning. Beyond academia, confidently articulating ideas or concerns and liaising professionally with colleagues, managers, clients and other stakeholders will be a vital capability required in any workplace role I undertake.

Problem-Solving Skills

A major team activity that strongly highlighted the complexity of making high-stakes business decisions under strict time constraints was our fictional start-up airline task. As a team, we were required to collaboratively establish policies and operations for a new airline service, which sparked passionate debate and initial disagreements over the best routes, marketing strategies, amenities and other major decisions. These disputes risked severely derailing our progress at first. However, I suggested establishing an open discussion forum that actively encouraged all team members to contribute their perspectives, enabling us to identify potential compromises through careful evaluation of the pros and cons of each proposal. This experience exhibits the academic theory that teams comprising individuals with diverse viewpoints are better equipped for holistic analysis of problems and can synthesize the strongest solutions by combining their broad collective knowledge (Børve et al., 2020).

During the ‘evaluation’ stage of Gibbs’ reflective cycle (Gibbs, 2017), I realized that the conflict resolution and consensus-building skills developed through this activity could be very valuable for constructively addressing similar disagreements likely to arise in other group assignments. Specifically, major decisions like choosing airline routes, marketing strategies and onboard amenities sparked robust debate within our team that I helped mediate by constructing objective SWOT analyses of each proposal and identifying areas of mutual agreement that could form the basis for compromise solutions. This experience enhanced my competencies in diplomacy, negotiation, and facilitating productive discussion outcomes valuable for resolving workplace conflicts (Yukl, 2021).

Presentation and IT Skills

A key activity that contributed significantly towards advancing both my public presentation and information technology skills was developing and delivering our start-up airline pitch to the class. I volunteered to utilize Prezi presentation software to create the slides, as an engaging alternative to generic PowerPoint. Despite my initial difficulty getting to grips with mastering the advanced functionality of this new tool, investing time into completing online Prezi video tutorials enabled me to rapidly upskill and produce an innovative, visually captivating presentation. This willingness to dedicate effort towards learning new software programs or technology will be invaluable in enabling me to smoothly adapt to ever-evolving workplace systems throughout my career (Stokes et al., 2019).

However, despite my expertise in this presentation technology, I still experienced notable anxiety presenting verbally before the audience. I overcame this by filming multiple rehearsals

of the pitch and carefully reviewing the footage to pinpoint specific areas for further improvement, including maintaining appropriate eye contact with the class and consciously remembering to speak slowly to maximize clarity (Barker et al., 2022). Undertaking this evaluation exercise ultimately gave me greater confidence to present ideas or findings in a polished, professional manner. This aligns with academic literature emphasizing that effective presentations require thorough preparation, logical structure and clarity in verbal delivery (Gallo, 2020). Dedicated improvement of public speaking abilities will be vital for successfully communicating research findings at university and for future professional roles where boardroom pitches, keynote lectures or employee training seminars are key responsibilities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, systematically applying Gibbs’ reflective cycle has enabled insightful evaluation of the tangible development of my communication, problem-solving and presentation/IT skills through participation in collaborative team activities over 5 weeks. A major benefit was identifying and proactively addressing weaknesses in these competencies that were hampering my contributions or performance in group work. Maintaining motivation to continue refining my abilities by investing time in practising and seeking expert guidance will undoubtedly support my ongoing growth into a well-rounded business student and graduate equipped with abilities essential to thrive in my university studies and future career ambitions. The invaluable lessons gained from consciously developing skills like conflict resolution and public speaking will assist me in fulfilling my potential both academically and as a professional.

References

Barker, R.T., Barker, S.B., Pinzer-Foresman, B. and Brooks, L. (2022) Public Speaking Concepts and Skills for a Diverse World. Cengage Learning, Boston.

Børve, H.E., Aanestad, M., Jensen, T.B. and Kautz, K. (2020) Innovation in healthcare: widening the lens. Journal of Health Organization and Management.

Gallo, C. (2020) The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. McGraw Hill, New York.

Gamble, T.K. and Gamble M.W. (2020) Interpersonal Communication: Building Connections Together. Sage Publications, Los Angeles.

Gibbs, G. (2017) Reflections on the changing nature of educational development. International Journal for Academic Development, 22(1), pp.4-14.

Marques, J. (2020) Leading high-performance teams. Springer Nature.

Rogers, C.R. (2019) Client-centered Therapy. Constable.

Stokes, P., Moore, N., Smith, S.M., Rowland, C. and Matthews, G. (2019). Managing talent across advanced economies: The role of high-skilled migration. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 30(22), pp.3193-3216.

Yukl, G. (2021). Influence tactics and leader effectiveness. In Leadership in Organizations. Pearson, pp.167-203.

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