Professional Communication forms the basis of professional conduct. Working executives are expected to know and demonstrate this conduct in all their interactions. Students in the bachelor’s program will be introduced to the corporate expectations of etiquette, decorum and conduct. This is to ensure that they know, understand and adopt this conduct so as to easily fit in the corporate world and effectively demonstrate efficient, effective, respectful and collaborative work behavior. Be it conduct with seniors, peers or juniors or be it interaction with internal or external associates, executives are expected to conduct themselves in ways that respect time and boundaries of others. These boundaries, and behaviour thereof, are not necessarily documented but are certainly expected in all professional organizations. This course is designed to acquaint students with expected conduct during meetings and interviews. Students will get an opportunity to develop their listening, speaking and dialoguing abilities. A major part of business communication is over emails and this course introduces students to basic email etiquette expected of them for professional conduct. A very practical hands-on approach will be adopted. Students will participate in role plays, do practice sessions, read essential articles on best practices in professional communication and interaction, and internalize the behavior expected of them as professionals.
This course introduces students to key concepts, theories, and principles of teamwork and collaboration. While the course concentrates on teams and teamwork, the knowledge, skills, and dispositions developed in the course apply to many groups. For example, the course explores group dynamics and how people behave and interact in groups; how they influence and are influenced by others; communication patterns; the roles people play; how they organise themselves. This is relevant to all kinds of social groupings, including those found in communities and organizations. The course is relevant to most forms of purposeful groups and committees, as well as teams—where people pull together to get things done. It provides a framework for analyzing how work is accomplished in groups and teams, that is, collaboratively, revealing why things don’t happen as expected or desired, for example, and what to do about it.
The courses touches on many aspects germane to the effective functioning of groups and teams, with main objectives being to help learners become more effective in working with others, and to help groups and teams perform at a higher and more-satisfying level. Important areas students will learn more about through the course include: ▪ Team Performance Management, especially goal-setting, planning, and allocating work. ▪ Chartering Teams—how to give teams and groups a head start. ▪ The Nature of Collaboration, what it actually consists of and requires; communicating and coordinating. ▪ Getting the Most of Teams—reducing waste, redundancy, and unnecessary conflict; capitalizing on opportunities for leverage and synergy. ▪ Ways to assess team and group performance, morale, and effectiveness. ▪ Team-building and interventions to improve team functioning. ▪ Team Leadership—what it is and how it works; why it succeeds and so often fails. Participants will also learn more about their team skills and orientations, and improve their teamwork and collaboration competence; that is, become better at working with others.
If there is one skill in which every business leader must excel, it is the skill of negotiating. The more skilled a leader is in negotiating; the more value he/she is able to generate for all stakeholders. This value is created in environments that foster gainful relationships. The results of well-negotiated deals fuel more deals and more results and the cycle continues. While not everyone has a natural knack for negotiating, the good news is that it is a skill that can be developed. Research shows that people with average negotiating skills can hugely increase their results by understanding how skilled negotiators perceive, analyze, interpret and respond to offers. What skilled negotiators seemingly make concessions, they ultimately make bigger gains. How these negotiators pull off a deal while making the other party contented and wanting to do more business with them is fascinating and is a skill that can be developed. This learning can make an average negotiator more precisely estimate the need, the desire and the agreeableness of the other party, and thereby make more reasoned and winning offers. This course is designed to help students enhance their sphere of influence, and get a close glimpse into how people negotiate differently. What is it that makes one successful and another not so? Are there behaviours that decide the outcomes? The course helps students get an appreciation of their personal negotiation style, and their communication competence, a comparison on where they are compared to the rest. They learn about negotiation tactics that people employ and how to deal with such tactics. They learn to deal with the more powerful other and also the less powerful other. The course is packed with action. Role plays, simulations, video guided sessions, films and case analysis make the learning dynamic and interesting.
Entry into professional employment is a rigorous process wherein companies scout, screen, select and recruit candidates that best fit the organizational culture and requirements. They need to make this estimation through a short process of screening and selection. While the companies take responsibility of selecting the best fit, the candidates also have a responsibility of presenting their capabilities and true potential to recruiters in a true, clear and efficient manner. This course is run as a series of workshops. It is designed to help students prepare for this process of screening and selection. The workshop modules provide students a glimpse into the corporate world and its expectations from job candidates. It guides them to explore their own strengths and weaknesses, and build their own story. Students also get a chance to learn from experiences of other candidates so as to avoid unnecessary pitfalls in their path to success. They get to learn preparation strategies, appearing for the interview and the post interview management process. Lectures, presentations, discussions, instruments of self-discovery, videos and mock interviews are used to prepare students for job interviews that they are likely to appear for, sooner or later.
There is great and continuing need for professionals at all levels to possess and employ the skills and dispositions to tackle complex problems and develop novel and sustainable solutions. And, despite the practically infinite power of the human intellect, creative problem-solvers and strategic thinkers are in short supply. To make matters worse, some with obvious individual capabilities (or potential) find it difficult to work with and through others. Contemporary organisational and global challenges make imperative that we identify, understand, and counter the impediments to problem-solving and solutions that ensure a brighter future. Many of today’s problems and issues exist because traditionally and historically we have taken short-cuts to solving problems, seeking immediate, temporary (“quick-fix”) solutions with little thought to long-term implications. There are many reasons for such behaviour as well, both conscious and unwitting, but the consequences are the same: doing irreparable damage to society or the planet, creating other problems in pursuit of solving one, or having to repeatedly throw resources at solving the same problem as we have not actually gotten to its roots (core causes). Few problems are as simple as we like to think. This course exposes students to counterproductive habits, ways of thinking, and common hindrances arising when we attempt to solve problems, and helps learners develop effective strategies to overcome such tendencies. Students will learn how to transcend the limits of their own thinking and how to harness the power of the collective mind and spirit. Students will learn that they can—and should—improve their creativity and inventiveness. This may involve seeing things they never before saw or seeing them in new and different ways. It may also lead to them seeing themselves, their roles, and their capabilities differently, as well as providing insights into and strategies for getting the most out of groups. It will probably require the learning of new skills and tools, and may require learners to discard or “unlearn” ways of approaching problems and decisions that undermine creativity and effectiveness.
Decision-making is an integral part of our daily lives. We may not think too much about the decisions we make or the decision-making process until we are forced to make a difficult decision. Decisions may be difficult for a variety of reasons, including the pressure we feel to make the right decision. To make matters worse, what makes a decision “right” may have many aspects, themselves difficult to ascertain or weigh, and, in fact, “right” may be a matter of perspective. What is seemingly right, necessary, or obvious in one person’s view may be entirely different for another person. You might appreciate what this means when there are multiple parties (stakeholders) interested in the outcome of a decision, each with a different view of what is best. A decision may be difficult for at least two reasons. The first is the number and kind of details, particulars, and factors to take into consideration, including implications, consequences, and risks of a given decision or chosen course of action, both quantifiable and qualifiable, concrete or intangible. This is largely a matter of complexity. Then, somewhat separate, there are the moral, ethical dimensions of the decision—what seems to be best all things considered. The more debatable, contestable, provocative, or far-reaching, the greater the difficulty the decisionmaker faces. For people who see primarily two sides—black and white, right and wrong; it either is or it isn’t— decisions are simple. But for many decisions to be made, there is often a great deal of grey. There will be grey areas whenever there are competing or conflicting interests and multiple stakeholders. Grey exists where and when there is uncertainty, unpredictability, ambiguity. The level of need for clarity and definition (or, alternatively, with the level of comfort with ambiguity) may impact the approach individuals take to making decisions and thus the decisions they make. This course examines some of the ways people make decisions and considers merits of one approach over another in a particular situation (decision context). It seeks to provide students with the skills, tools, and discipline for a reasoned and deliberate approach to decision making. Grey areas arise when we have no precedent or rule book to follow, when we encounter a challenge we have not seen before or when known solutions do not work. Dilemmas present grey areas, as well—when a choice is forced between courses of action where none is ideal. Whether or not and how we deal with difficult decisions says a lot about us as individuals. Do we short-cut them and seek simple solutions? Over-analyze and overcomplicate? Leave them to someone else or to popular opinion? One of the purposes of this course is to identify and critique our decision styles, and learn alternative strategies for decision making. Thus, this course explores and compares various decision-making styles, processes, and techniques. For example, one approach might be more logical and rational, while another is more intuitive or creative. Both can be valuable, with either being more useful in a particular situation than the other. Still, both might need to be brought to bear on a given problem. Students will have a chance to experiment with a variety of techniques in this course. Through dialogue and case examples, students will also consider pressures and constraints in decision-making, amongst them the pervasive belief that leaders must be decisive and the implications of such drivers. We will also consider the typical biases and other problems in decision making that undermine the efficacy of decisions, and entertain some of the strategies for overcoming or contending with such tendencies. Work that students did in the Design Thinking course, such as Critical Thinking, will have prepared them for this. Bottom line is that everybody makes—and must make—decisions all the time. Many decisions lack conscious thought, insight, and foresight, and, thus, fail or make matters worse. This is bad enough at the individual level, but is unacceptable and downright dangerous in the complex, global world in which today’s leaders operate. Thus, this course is designed to instill habits of effective decision making and to make the decision process more conscious and open to critique and improvement. While individuals will learn processes that make them personally and professionally more effective, they may benefit even more learning about and through shared decision making and the collaborative process. Important knowledge students will acquire and skills and methods they will learn more about through the course include:
Typical (and one’s own) decision-making styles, and the relative advantages and downsides of particular styles.
Steps in the decision-making process and how to optimize them.
Differences between individual and group decision-making processes and outcomes.
Processes and criteria for evaluating the decision-making process and resultant decisions.
Basic impediments to effective decision making, including but not limited to bias and subjectivity.
Differences and relationship between problem solving and decision making.
Basic action planning, and essential relationships amongst decision making, action planning, and implementation.
Improving decision making: learning from and through the decision-making process
Factors in decision success, including viability and buy-in.
Sustainability in decision making.