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Key skills: making a difference
Key skills: making a difference

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4.3.5 Adapt your strategy

Often, plans run into difficulties because of unforeseen or changing circumstances. For example, it may have taken you longer than expected to get the information you needed, or just as you were ready to print off your final version of a report, the computer crashed. Plans are only a means to an end and frequently need to be modified. If you run into difficulties, think about how they affect the production of your immediate work and your overall goals. Do you need to modify your short-term plan? What changes might you need to make in your overall strategy?

Time out

Record any problems or difficulties you face as you go along and note the effect they have on the production of your work and how you have overcome them.

Activity: Monitoring your progress

For this activity you will need to print out the Skills Sheet, ‘Monitoring your progress’: click here [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   to open it.

You'll also need the communication Bookmark that you may already have open. If you don't, click here.

On the Skills Sheet, critically reflect on your use of communication skills by summarising:

  • the feedback you requested and received;

  • the choices you made in the light of your own monitoring and feedback comments; how effective were your choices in achieving your goals?

  • the changes, if any, you made to your strategy and plans as your work progressed; briefly justify your changes.

Refer to the figure below for an example of a completed Skills Sheet for this stage of the key skills framework.

Figure 6
Example of a completed Skills Sheet for ‘Monitoring your progress’

Evaluating strategy and presenting outcomes

Evaluating work is an often-neglected process. When a piece of work has been completed you are probably keen to leave it behind, forget about its existence and get on with the next task. Even when your work is returned, you may just wish to file it away. However, if you want to improve, you need to consider carefully how well you did, take into account any comments you received from your tutor or manager and think about what changes you will make for future.

This stage of the framework focuses on identifying what you have achieved and how well you have achieved it. It involves evaluating both your communication work and the strategy overall and presenting your work. You can use the key skills criteria on the Bookmarks and the outcomes from your action plan to help you reflect on your own development and evaluate whether and how your performance has improved.

(Click here to open the Bookmark.)

In evaluating your strategy overall you are considering the communication work you have completed for this key skill and your strategy.

  1. To consider the communication work you have completed for this key skill, that is written work, presentation and discussion work, you need to consider whether the way you organised and presented the information was effective. Use criteria, feedback, and comments from peers to help you put together an evaluation. Consider the presentation of the information you used and its relevance, the clarity and structure. The aim here is to be objective – 'to stand outside yourself’. You may need to leave some time after completing the work before you can do this.

  2. To consider your strategy to improve your communication skills, that is the number of opportunities you used to practise, the use you made of your monitoring, the feedback you asked for and used, and so on; use your notes and comments and the criteria given on the Bookmark.

As you evaluate and assess your strategy, identify aspects of your communication skills you want to develop and improve further.

In evaluating your strategy and presenting the outcomes of your work you need to know how to:

  • organise and clearly present relevant information;

  • assess the effectiveness of your strategy; and

  • identify ways of further developing your communication skills.