personal work priorities and professional development

Manage personal work priorities and professional development

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Knowledge Questions
Please carefully read through each question. Use terms and jargon that have been presented within this Unit. Refer to your online notes, if needed. Please write a minimum of 100 words (approx. 7 sentences) for each response. This is to enable you to fully demonstrate your research and knowledge in this area. Where the word count is not complied with, your submission will be returned to you.

1 Identify and explain three (3) theories, which have been presented in this Unit, to support positive role models in the workplace. Minimum of 100 words (approx. 7 sentences).

2 Identify and describe the principles of SMART, when designing and preparing plans and systems. Minimum of 100 words (approx. 7 sentences).

3 Explain the value of prioritising and facilitating competing work demands and refer to the Priority Model � provide simple steps for its application, within the workplace. Minimum of 100 words (approx. 7 sentences).

4 Provide guidelines to be applied for successfully developing and maintaining professional competence. Identify actions that individuals can take, to maintain their professional competence. Minimum of 100 words (approx. 7 sentences).

5 Identify and explain the purpose of and values for maintaining a competitive edge. Minimum o100 words (approx. 7 sentences).

Establish personal work goals

Serve as a positive role model in the workplace through work planning and organisation

Role models within the workplace

All organisations are looking for and encourage workplace role models. Role models are generally identified as individuals who are reliable, with good work ethics, and continue

to demonstrate sound leadership for others. Role models regularly refer to corporate goals to ensure what they are doing is that which is required of them within their current employment.

To be an effective role model, it is important that individuals identify the leadership roles that employees want to work with and follow. All individuals should be aware of

their preferred leadership styles within the workplace. Leaders are recognised through the respect others have for them, trust they have built up and their level of work commitment that others want to emulate.

Leaders as role models should consistently work toward demonstrating:

Ethics – Ethical behaviour is the way individuals engage with others and operate. Usually includes high morals, knowing and applying corporate standards and rules. They lead through applying fairness and well established protocols, within the workplace. Organisations should have established their own Code of Ethics. Leaders know and live by that Code.

When referencing the importance for maintaining any credibility (Kehoe et al, 2004) wrote that it is important that leaders operate in an ‘ethical manner’. This includes the ability to:

  • act in the interests of all, by considering all employees when making work decisions
  • treat all people equally
  • communicate openly and honestly to develop trust
  • show respect for other people’s decisions
  • keep information confidential
  • act honestly
  • model the behaviours expected from employees
  • seek advice and ideas from all employees and acknowledge all contributions
  • to be a positive role model through consistently demonstrating efficient personal work planning and organisational skills through consistently effective communications.
  1. Plans need clear goals/objectives

Goals are identified as key aims which usually include a paragraph, clearly stating outcomes to be achieved. This is the whatof an organisation or individual, over a long (usually five years) period of time. A key principle, applied within business and, particularly, in the writing of goals and objectives, is what is referred to as the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. principle.

Setting and writing S.M.A.R.T. goals and objectives

When setting goals (key aims, which usually include a short paragraph of what is to be achieved. Then, clear objectives, containing action verbs (identifying how it is to be achieved), and key outcomes, should be clearly identified. A useful tool, when preparing a Business Plan, is to apply the S.M.A.R.T. principles:

Specific – Clearly state what is to be achieved. This can be included in the corporate goals and corporate objectives, with clear details. This is a statement that any reader can clearly identify what is going to be achieved as a result of this commitment. It should be written in simple English and easily understood.

Measurable – If it cannot be measured, then how progress is be assessed should be considered. For any objectives to be workable, key performance indicators (which will be discussed later) must be stated as a benchmark, for future assessment of progress.

Achievable and Agreeable– Given the resources available, historical data and current competencies; the planned approach should have been tested, to ensure outcomes can be achieved in the specified timeframes. This requires times to be identified and assessed, to ensure what is to be achieved can be completed with reasonable conditions. If not, a review of those statements

must be applied. Not to achieve, is to fail. Goals must be relevant to and agreed with all parties.

Realistic – Given the current climate, nature of the business and other impediments (natural challenges) any statements included within the plan should consider and document ‘actions’ that can be realistically achieved. In most cases, contingency plans will be provided, to manage those ‘unforeseen circumstances which may arise’. This in itself will support the outcomes to be more realistic.

Time-bound – Goals must have a deadline. A good goal statement will answer the question: When will I achieve my goal? Without deadlines, it’s easy to put goals off and leave them to die. As well as a deadline, it’s a good idea to set some short-term milestones along the way, to help you measure progress.

The timeframes provided should be based on historical data, where previous success has been achieved. Where projects or work tasks are new, then the services of specialists should be secured to plan a workable timeframe for

all stakeholders.

Ethically and Enthusiastically – Goals should sit comfortably within a moral compass. Work operations and personal interactions should be managed and supported, ethically and enthusiastically.

Reward, Resource and Re-evaluate – Adequate and sufficient resources should be committed to undertaking any actions. It is important for a leader to recognise and acknowledge all stakeholders, just as it is to reward them for their commitment, ownership and performance.

The key elements of any Performance Management Plan should include clear goals and objectives. This will assist any organisation to identify what is required, whilst enabling an individual to fully understand how the services are to be delivered. An effective plan should reflect the S.M.A.R.T. principles:

Specifically state the outcomes of any task/s to be performed Measurable, by providing benchmarks for assessment Achievable, given the constraints and parameters of the task/job

Realistic, in consideration of the type and standards of work to be achieved and personnel skills available, and, finally,

Timely, within current operations and other priorities to be performed and achieved.

If the PMP can effectively respond to each of the above, the chances are it will work! Read through the following template as a further guidelines for preparing plans of this nature.

To enable the design of an effective Performance Management Plan, key information will be required.

Take initiative to prioritise and facilitate competing demands to achieve personal, team and organisational goals and objectives

Managing work priorities and competing demands

Personal goals and objectives are set by individuals every day, to respond to the changing demands placed on them. The outcomes depend on time available,

how well they were planned, and if the resources were available; unachievable and unrealistic goals cannot be achieved Organisations work on the same premise and set their goals for longer periods. Their values, missions and objectives are written into their corporate documents. These include:

  • corporate or business plan (usually for a five year period) setting long term goals for all employees)
  • operational plan (annually prepared) identifying all sections/departments; their key roles and responsibilities
  • annual budget, which is adopted to reflect revenue and expenditure for the financial year adopted
  • team plans, and
  • individual action plans.

Whether referring to our personal, small business or organisational goals, there are key requirements towards achieving success. Competing demands emerge every day; skills in planning, through collaboration and engagement, effective communications will lead to agreement for future directions.

All stakeholders need to be kept informed of what is required, and processes for responding to unforeseen situations (contingency plans).

Time management

Time management is determined by a range of changing issues, responsibilities and deadlines imposed upon us.

However, it should be remembered that, at the end of the day, there is only person who manages your time – and that is you. Expectations are placed on us and standards have to be maintained.

Applying a review of what we are currently doing and what we should do will be determined by our prioritising of our tasks.

Firstly, let’s identify the standards imposed on all of us, for a range of reasons.


Manage personal work priorities and professional development


Meeting requirements of the set standards

We have previously discussed the need for standards to be set by credible bodies. When setting our own standards, they have the same common features as the workplace –they should reflect:

  • safety of ourselves and others
  • a realistic attitude, given the timeframes available
  • need to be undertaken with minimal stress imposed
  • engagement with key stakeholders for other feedback and when needed, support.

Individual employees usually aspire to be recognised as competent and professional (one who works to a Code of Ethics). Employees should be fully aware of what is required (roles and responsibilities); legislation, policies and procedures (to be complied with) and, (if currently employed), the needs of both the Employer and themselves.

Competence is the ability to undertake, complete and submit work to the standards that have been established. These standards are usually taken from the industry standards established and which have previously been discussed.

Workplace challenges

There are times when workplace challenges, inappropriate behaviours or inability to meet work requirements has to be managed. These challenges may come from:

  • changes in the work environment
  • new employees entering a team
  • newly-appointed management
  • noncompliance and/or personal matters negatively impacting on an individual’s performance.

In addition, organisations are increasingly being subjected to compliance and demonstration of their commitment to global, financial, environmental and social impacts. All of these significant matters require careful and consistent monitoring and to be reflected in corporate goals and operations. In addition, organisations are forced to ensure contemporary business practices are being applied, in addition to being productive and profitable. Technologies continue to change on a daily basis and while employees are challenged to ensure they have the right skills, and competencies; so too are organisations; to ensure they have the most up-to-date operating equipment, plant and services.

Managers and specialists are required and expected to maintain their professional competence, at all times. To be appointed into a middle or higher management position there are expectations that these individuals will lead the organisation and maintain their own competence. Traditionally, this is

achieved through their membership of professional bodies. To maintain their membership, they have to demonstrate contemporary approaches to leadership and management, while meeting key corporate requirements. Any changes must be managed and strategies implemented, in addition to maintaining work outputs. Prioritising is a key strategy, for identifying changing roles and responsibilities should be executed.


Manage personal work priorities and professional development

The priority matrix

The Priority Matrix is a tool that can be used when complex, ongoing work challenges have to be actioned/managed. It is an effective tool that can be used to prioritise work tasks, according to their level of importance, so teams can mutually agree and recognise the order in which actions and work are to be completed.

Firstly, tasks must be identified. This would normally be undertaken by all stakeholders to ensure equal representation and input from all personnel has been enabled. Tasks should then be listed, according to being either (a) urgent, or (b) not urgent. Urgent tasks need be to done immediately because they need immediate attention and usually require extensive timeframes to be completed. The non-urgent tasks are tasks that still need to be completed, but can be delayed, to ensure the urgent tasks are completed first, or delegated to a colleague or employee.

Tasks are also to be identified as either ‘important’, or ‘not important’. Important tasks must be performed and are usually essential to the importance of business operations in areas such as customer service, financing and planning.

Tasks that are not important are those that are not essential and can be completed at another time, to ensure important tasks remain a priority.

The Priority Matrix is split into four sections. All tasks need to be listed, and then inserted into the matrix.

Urgent and Important

Not Urgent and Important

Do First

Plan to do ASAP


Not Urgent

Urgent but Not Important

Not Urgent and Not Important


Put off ASAP

Challenges that impact on achieving our priorities

In this section we considered and shared strategies for you to be fully aware of setting and meeting your personal and work priorities. You were introduced to the Priority Matrix as a useful tool for the future. To enable good and effective use of this tool, you should identify and then list key activities. Here are some tips for the future:

  • identify and list the tasks to be completed for one day/ week/month; remember you can always revise your plan, if it is not meeting the desired outcomes
  • be objective when setting tasks and be fair to yourself; your own needs are as important as others’
  • define ‘priorities’ to recognise what must be undertaken first, and those which will have the most significant impact, if they are not achieved within the timeframes set
  • allow sufficient time to undertake the task
  • know to whom you can delegate
  • be prepared to observe a period of time, when you are operating – identify your time stealers!

Time stealers

While we can plan and identify priorities, there are a range of interruptions that will challenge us throughout our working day.

Here is a list of the typical interruptions (or time stealers) likely to be faced:

  • interruptions – telephone
  • interruptions – personal visitors
  • mail and email
  • meetings
  • tasks you should have delegated
  • procrastination and indecision
  • acting with incomplete information
  • dealing with team members
  • solving problems that should be solved on the floor
  • crisis management (fire-fighting)
  • unclear communication
  • inadequate technical knowledge
  • priorities and expectations of others


Manage personal work priorities and professional development


  • workload from unrelated sections/divisions
  • rework and mistakes
  • stress and fatigue
  • inability to say ‘no’
  • desk management and personal disorganisation.


Develop and maintain

professional competence

Personal knowledge and skills versus competency standards: determining development needs, priorities and plans

As previously discussed, competency standards are agreed benchmarks, for different occupations, which determine the minimum standard for work performance to be achieved.

Organisations strive to promote capabilities beyond those standards, by ensuring individuals are aware of what is required of them, and how they will be assessed or appraised.

To enable all employees to be aware of and comply with occupational, industry and/or organisational policies, codes and standards, plans and information must be shared. Consider all of the corporate documents that we have identified within this Unit. Take time out to revise the content

delivered, so far.

Corporate or Business Plan.This presents the goals, values and a description of the culture of the organisation. Targets and priorities are identified over the long term. An organisation would have established its own key performance indicators for annual, progressive assessment.

Operational Plan.This document presents details, regarding operational responsibilities of different departments/sections towards achieving corporate goals through demonstrating corporate values and intentions.

Job Description.This will provide key information about roles and responsibilities; skills and knowledge and the department/section where work is undertaken. This information enables the design and agreement of key performance indicators (KPIs) and agreement on how to regularly measure performance.

Duty Statement or Statement of Conduct.This is a tool that clearly defines professional competencies for a specific role. Industry standards are applied, to determine levels of specialist skills and knowledge. This information, through the reflection of occupational/professional competencies can determine benchmarks or standards for performance assessment. An arrangement might be that individuals are required to maintain professional memberships. Professional bodies provide ongoing development, to ensure contemporary skills and competencies of their members, and is available in several diverse occupations and industries.

Performance can be measured across a range of different strategies. Here are four (4) strategies you should consider:

  • Observing people’s reactions/responses to different work demands

Consistent responses to work demands demonstrates various attitudes, behaviour and levels of support for completing tasks. This is usually informal and can be observed by colleagues of an individual. Models and tools are available to invite stakeholders to contribute to performance and ethics of an individual, as part of the performance appraisal system.


  • Maintaining records of situations or incidents where employees have identified no support or leadership or directions available

This can be undertaken informally, general questions and listening to comments from people, or formally. If formally: surveys, questionnaire, or confidential discussions may be held to quantify occurrences where individuals have sought help or assistance or if tasks have not been completed or individuals’ absenteeism is increasing. This can be an indication of low morale or dissatisfaction amongst employees. Managers should consider regular feedback from their own

colleagues about their management styles and, if possible, from within their own team to enable identification of gaps or situations that may need rectification, review, or corrective actions. If it is not improved upon, then risk will increase for all staff and their work outputs.

  • Feedback within teams

Communication is a two way process. It is important to provide opportunities where team members can discuss work, schedules and strategies. Their knowledge and input (if encouraged and enabled) in an environment of trust, respect and honesty will provide valuable information for managers to build on. This, in turn, provides insight into the levels of satisfaction, recognition and direct involvement of all team members. The value of feedback is that it enables people to listen and, if considered, know what other team members are concerned with. This leads to potential solutions or options, which can be provided by all team members. A result of encouraging and enabling open, honest and consistent discussions is reliable feedback to enable each member of the team as an integral member.

  • Regular updates on legislative requirements, corporate, or work changes

This approach helps support employees to identify requirements placed on them. If this is managed consistently and adequate time is provided for input or questions, employees can be observed regarding their levels of contributions, discussions and problem-solving strategies. In these situations, role models can often evolve or be recognised. These are the individuals, who consistently seek out strategies and are knowledgeable, skilled and able to engage with the majority of staff.

Informed decisions

Informed decisions can only be made when employees are provided with sufficient, relevant, accurate information.

Experience and opportunities to engage with others is a good strategy to assist them in problem-solving, communications and risk management towards meeting their job outcomes.

When there is an absence of systems, or regular distribution of information, employees will not be able to perform to the

standards required. Increased risk will evolve, and possibly lead to mistrust and incorrect procedures being followed, especially where changes have been implemented, but operators have not been made aware of these.

Managers have a legal duty to ensure and provide a healthy and safe workplace for all. A key responsibility is to maintain

their own knowledge and make sure all team members are regularly updated and informed, about any matters that can impact on their work or performance.


Managers must maintain their own competence. This includes skills in communications, managing people, and compliance, managing risk and supporting and advising all team members. Their behaviours must be consistent, fair and equitable. Their skills should be contemporary and reflect latest developments, within their own specialist areas (eg, engineering, banking, and teaching, training others). There can be legal implications, if incompetence

is proven. Most managers will maintain their professional membership, within specific industries, as a commitment to maintaining their competencies.

Competency standards are used as the benchmarks to measure the level of performance. A competency standard is a document used as a frame of reference by employers or managers, who are managing performance or appraisals.

Prior to assessing another individual, managers must be trained and guided through:

  • the corporate performance process
  • competency standards for the role
  • individual’s current employment role, and


  • agreed key performance indicators, to enable a review or assessment to be undertaken. Competency standards aim to ensure that individuals can and are performing at the required minimal level.


All of the above have previously been discussed within this Unit.

Two main types of competency standards applied within the workforce are:

  • nationally-endorsed (accredited) units of competency, consistent with work requirements
  • recognised nationwide and serving as a basis for assessment/s and the issue of formal qualifications


  • enterprise-specific units of competency, consistent with each industry/work requirements
  • in-house organisational standards, specific to the requirements of the industry under which the business falls (usually non-accredited).


In-house standards are developed and documented, to ensure that all employees meet the minimal level of work outputs. If weaknesses in competency standards are identified, then corrective action must be taken immediately, to address the issue.

Corrective actions must focus on the issues or gaps, identified in partnership with the individual concerned.

Skills for achieving ‘competitive edge’

Most organisations strive to maintain a ‘competitive edge’. That is, they attempt to be the best within their business scope and in comparison with their competitors.

Maintaining a ‘competitive edge’

To maintain a competitive edge in any industry, leaders and employees should ensure that they continuously review and improve their competencies and professional development. Whether determining future personal goals or work goals, key documents must be referred to:

1 Personal or Work Action Plan containing goals, and steps to be taken

– and a process for measuring success.

2 Corporate Plan – clearly identifying the bigger picture (personal) or corporate goals, values, and mission statement (business).

3 Corporate Operational Plan – recognising the roles and responsibilities of all personnel and outcomes expected of them, with timeframes.

4 Team Plans – listing key outputs, delegations and authorised staff to lead. This should also include regular reporting formats to be shared within the team; to reflect on corporate goals to be delivered.

To maintain a competitive edge, within our personal lives, or working lives, requires us to:

  • be fully aware of what is already about and operating, within other industries
  • recognise the standards to be worked to and the specific requirements of our customers
  • read, research and maintain knowledge of what is going on, in the different industries
  • maintain keenness to change, to respond and to initiate new ways of working
  • have the skills, knowledge and attributes to operate to the highest of standards
  • establish goals – which are clear and Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely – reflecting on the SMART principles
  • be prepared to network with different industry/specialist groups.
  • know what we want to achieve, and the environment we are working in. Some simple guidelines, towards achieving success:

o be proactive. look at the changes that will be occurring

in the market (such as technological innovation) and take steps to ensure that we learn new maintain current and build on new skills

o problem solve (not create) and seek out other people’s opinions. People have different experiences and can contribute to ‘new ways of thinking or working’

o continuously review and revise our work practices, challenge ourselves to extend our learning and competencies for the future.

Manage personal work priorities and professional development


Consultation processes for seeking assistance

Consider and identify champions or personnel, who have built a reputation for honesty, integrity and reliability. These individuals are a great source of information on a range of matters. The clue here is to ensure we engage with the right people. Some examples have already been discussed within this Unit. They may include:

  • Mentor or Coach: a qualified and experienced person, who can share and guide personnel in specialist matters. They seek to secure an agreement as to what is to be learned, and how to best apply the learning.
  • Human Resource Manager: a qualified and experienced

person, with specialist skills in personnel, industrial relations and workforce planning. Their role is to advise and guide, and can often be relied upon, to make recommendations for strategic operations.

  • Training Manager: within organisations, these individuals usually have extensive experience and history of what is available and how it can be applied. They are qualified with specialist skills and, if they cannot assist, will usually recommend alternative and professional options.
  • Colleague: approach colleagues, who may be in a position to assist. These are usually individuals who have built up a reputation for being honest, accountable and reliable.
  • External Specialist Consultants: consultants are professionals, who have developed specialist skills and knowledge in different areas. If they cannot advise or provide the information required, they have networks and registers of appropriate personnel, who can provide the services required.

Courses/programs available for professional development: accredited or non-accredited?

An extensive range of options is available to both individuals and organisations, for enabling skills development. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some options that could be considered.

Accredited – formal training requiring formal assessments to be undertaken, to demonstrate competency standards have been achieved. Qualifications are available across all industries and range from Certificate I levels to Certificate IV; private providers, schools, colleges, TAFE. Diplomas (private providers, colleges, TAFE and some universities). Advanced

Diplomas (private providers, colleges and some universities). Undergraduate degrees (Bachelors), Masters degrees and Doctorate degrees (universities).

Non-Accredited – formal and informal training, which may not require any formal assessments to be undertaken to demonstrate competency

standards presented. These can include short courses, online courses and industry prescribed cource

Manage personal work priorities and professional development


Prior to any training or development being undertaken five key questions should be asked, by the individual/organisation procuring those services:

  • what do I want out of this?
  • why am I undertaking this study?
  • when is it to be undertaken and completed?
  • how is it to be delivered?
  • where is it to be delivered?

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