The Importance of Personal Effectiveness Training in University Master Courses: The Role of High School in Students' Assertiveness and Self-Awareness Development

The Importance of Personal Effectiveness Training in University Master Courses: The Role of High School in Students' Assertiveness and Self-Awareness Development

Carol Leroy (Université de Lille, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1238-8.ch006
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For the team manager function, building the required posture of assertiveness and self-construction requires identity conversions that cannot be achieved without reflexivity, nor philosophical spirituality. Self-reflection allows the construction of one's own trajectory, and the possibility of a positive encounter between one's own dynamics and that of others. This new professional posture questions the role of initial training through all the aspects that must guarantee the success of student socio-professional integration and give the opportunity of implementing the expected skills on a job start. This chapter describes the possible modalities of personal efficiency learning at university by describing the construction of a pedagogical course mixing competency approach and program approach within a work-integrated learning.
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Torn between an infinite amount of contradictory instructions and an increasing number of “pseudo” fundamental emergencies, line management is the essential cog to regulate activity in the distribution world. This mission is often entrusted to young starters who are then confronted with the harshest reality of the company, i.e. in the field, generating complexity in the management of the unexpected as well as in the results to be achieved or in understanding the human and social dimensions of the role. This necessitates the implementation of appropriate relational behaviour, reflecting a controlled managerial style.

Yet, for decades, it was “Managers of Business Administration”, rational and lacking humanity, who were trained, managers whom Mintzberg described perfectly and castigated in his book of 2004. Moreover, from 1976, the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) has recommended the integration of ethics courses for which training in self-knowledge is a pre-requisite.

This is one of the reasons why soft skills or transversal competencies, the definition of which is still very vague, are in vogue and spark debate. These soft skills are real criteria for recruitment or mobility towards positions of greater responsibility, and act as a door opener for creative individuals, with a sense of initiative and who are decisive, knowing how to act, communicate and live in a group, with humanity.

Since the start of the 2000s, French distributors have attempted to develop their managerial strategies by directing their attention towards these soft skills, in order to respond to transformations in society and the omni-channel strategic movements, some going so far as to work on the concept of emotional intelligence (Leroy Merlin and his vision promoted from 1997; Castorama with Do it Smart from 2006 and its relational development programme, Viva; more recently Auchan and the Servant Leader in 2014… or indeed Decathlon, which advocates the flattening of hierarchies and the dimension of team coaching).

This phenomenon fits into the continuity of the introduction of the concept of competency in France, particularly that of behaviour, of the development of managerial models, that are transactional, relational, then transformational, and in the context of the reform of higher education (2013, 2018 and AERES -Agency for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education replaced by HCERES -High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education-) which places transversal competencies at the heart of teaching. Yet, the development of soft skills is not achieved by a module or two taught in a face-to-face class. It requires an axiological dimension in teaching and a praxeological dimension in the construction of the professional identity around the path of self-development.

It is vital to open up to other learning models to find the best link between knowledge, knowing how to think about “doing it”, knowing how to carry out “doing it”, knowing how to reason about “doing it” and “after doing it”, knowing how to communicate it… In this teaching model, being open to self-development and thus to one’s own potential is vital, just as is up to the one who holds it to consciously choose whether he wishes to commit himself to this.

We form the hypothesis that it is through building a style of assertiveness and self-construction that the necessary soft skills may be developed to carry out a managerial job where the position of functional and symbolic interface takes precedence. This presupposes changes of identity that cannot happen without reflexivity or philosophical spirituality making it possible to define one’s own link between interiority and exteriority. Taking stock of oneself is thus a way of giving meaning to one’s own trajectory, and offers the possibility of a positive encounter between one’s personal dynamic and that of others.

Although the academic world has a wealth of material on the subjects of leadership, project management, change management, leading teams, administering the activity of middle management, there are paradoxically only a few publications that provide instruction on the development, the construction of an axiology, of a reflexivity specific to managerial functions.

It is in this context, and acting as training officer, that at the time of a preceding period of authorisation of training offerings (AERES then HCERES), the pedagogical study of the Institute of Marketing and Distribution Management of the University of Lille fits in with the desire to prepare young middle managers for the reality of a position with complex activities, with a growing interpersonal mission, with a unique intermediary position that confers the roles of interface, of social regulator mobilising many transversal competencies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Competencies: Skills are knowledge in action that enables to achieve an outcome. We design the competency that includes knowledge as the foundation for understanding the complex world that promotes awareness of what is expected

Axiological Dimension: The work on a program related to the personal development of students in learning requires a preliminary axiological questioning of the team on its values, his relationship to authority and power the meaning of this work, the meaning given to the word management, his or her representation of the student. These reflections provide the moral and philosophical framework of the defined humanist approach and in particular set the limits of what is agreed in the “personal development”.

Reflexive Pedagogy: Facilitate the development of critical thinking through the emergence of new possibilities for the learner to find meaning in the construction of his or her knowledge. Thus the pedagogy mobilized ensures that the student goes from understanding the content he learns, to why he learns this content, and to doing what with it.

Sandwich Training: Alternating pedagogy training format which is organised with periods of academic education in training center, and periods of vocational training in workplace.

Professional Style: Examines the role of initial education in two ways. The first is to ensure the trajectories of successful socio-professional integration of the student by implementing the competencies expected by the economic sphere when taking up a position. The second examines the construction of the professional identity allowing conscious and chosen incorporation into the position of line management.

Apprenticeship: Is a government mechanism that allows for an agreement between an individual (an apprentice) who wants to learn a skilled trade, a school (CFA- Apprenticeship Training Centre-) and an employer who needs a skilled worker and is willing to sponsor the apprentice. The company sponsors the apprentice, provides paid on-the-job experience in his or her field of employment, under the direction of a mentor, and in a work environment that allows for the learning of tasks, the activities and duties of a skilled worker. Apprenticeship training, which combines on-the-job learning (50%) and academic learning training (50%). The CFA appoints a tutor to supervise the apprentice academically.

Praxeological Dimension: Is carried out within the pedagogical approach which brings theory and professional practice into line with the activity. The pedagogical methods are designed as experiments which require an analysis of the action and a behavioral adaptation that is ethically relevant and adapted to the work situation, comparing conceptual knowledge with professional practice.

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