Free «Experiential Learning» Essay Paper

Experiential Learning

I. Principles of Time Management

Introduction

From 2008 to 2011, I worked as a billing manager at Access Ambulance Inc. Although, I learned many things from my three-year work experience at the company, I would like to focus on how I learned to manage my time best in the workplace. As a billing manager, I was responsible for overseeing billing processes in the company. By accomplishing various tasks and responsibilities expected of me as the billing manager, I learned how to organize daily billings under different categories, meet and communicate with other people in the business, including lawyers, talk about denied claims or manage and schedule bookings, and process daily billings before or on the cut-off time. Since daily billings must be organized and processed daily within a certain period of time, I learned how to manage my time to meet the deadline.

Learning Time Management in the Workplace

Time management is an important factor that helps one accomplish the goals and and balance different aspects of their lives. According to Downs (2008, p. 1), “Time management is a way to develop and use processes and tools for maximum efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity”. Furthermore, time management is considered a major skill, especially in the field of business and business management, because it is essential in allowing individuals to accomplish more tasks and responsibilities properly and effectively (Roberts, 1998). Therefore, it is imperative that individuals learn to manage their time. One could learn to manage time in different ways and situations but based on personal experience. Therefore, workplace is one of the best venues where one can learn time management. By looking at my work experience from the perspective of experiential learning, I am able to reflect on how I learned to manage my time through different tasks and roles that I had to accomplish in previous and current workplaces.

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As a former billing manager, I learned to manage my time in the workplace by initially taking note of my previous experience and reflecting or observing my performance during the first few months at work. Admittedly, I experienced trouble processing daily billings before the cut-off time in the afternoon. Whenever I failed to meet the cut-off, I needed to extend my time processing daily billings, which prevented me from meeting my other tasks, which I was supposed to finish by the afternoon. After the third day of missing the cut-off time, I realized that for the following work days, I had to develop an approach to meet the deadline so I would be able to complete my other tasks. I would not have been able to identify the problem I needed to fix had I not felt and watched how I worked during those first three days. Feeling and watching constitute one of the four principles of learning in Kolb’s experiential model, which is the process of diverging (Swanson & Holton, 2001).

Hence, I sought to determine what areas I needed to improve. Through reflection and observation, I identified what area of processing took me a while to complete. Consequently, I thought about how I would be able to decrease time spent on this area so I could speed up the processing time. These stages describe how it is to reflect and observe by watching and to conceptualize via thinking, which constitute the assimilation in Kolb’s experiential learning model (Swanson & Holton, 2001).

Since I found out that I spent too much time organizing billing statements under different categories (e.g. claimed, unclaimed, etc.), I undertook measures to make processing faster. I used a labeling system that comes with the billing processing software in the computer to label all invoices and memos under specific labels to make it easier to forward these files to necessary folders (e.g. under claimed or unclaimed, for approval or disallowance, etc.). By looking for ways to make processing faster, I was able to lessen the time for processing and finish going over daily billings before the cut off time. The process of attempting to solve the problem previously identified and then looking for a solution – the labeling system – is part of the experiential learning process of converging, which is a combination of conceptualization and active experimentation (Swanson & Holton, 2001). Accommodating, on the other hand, is a combination of active experimentation and the concrete experience, involves the assessment of the solution I found, whether it was effective or not, which luckily it was.

Conclusion

Based on my experiences in the workplace, especially during the first few days as a billing manager, I learned the importance of consciousness, which equates concrete experiences. Since I was aware of my shortcomings early on, I was able to take a step back to identify what areas of work I needed to improve. Identifying the problem and conceptualizing how to solve it helped me arrive at an effective solution, which was to use a labeling system. I learned that one of the most important outcomes of experiential learning is effective decision-making and problem solving (Glass, 2008). Consequently, through effective decision-making and problem solving, I was able to look for a solution to manage my time wisely and perform better at work by finishing all daily tasks within the deadline.

I believe I would be able to apply Kolb’s experiential learning model in the future, specifically within the context of decision-making and problem solving, as well as in all areas of life, whether it has something to do with professional or personal issues. Apart from being able to solve problems in a logical manner, I would also be able to reflect and identify my mistakes, whih is equally important in displaying modesty and integrity, virtues that every Christian must follow.

II. Principles of Office Management

Introduction

From 2010 until 2012, I worked as an office manager at All Access Bonds. As an office manager, I was in charge of monitoring the bond agents at the company who constitute All Access Bonds’ staff, preparing different types of paperwork including reports, collection letters, human resources evaluation, payroll, meeting and communicating with staff and clients, especially concerning complaints, and stakeholders, including lawyers, judges, and deputies. By accomplishing these tasks, I was able to learn different aspects of business operations and processes, apart from billing, since I had to prepare different types of reports and paperwork, while dealing with other people in the industry and overseeing the performance of the company’s staff. Working environment served as a learning experience for me, not only to apply what I know but also to learn from staff and stakeholders I met and talked to on a regular basis and from the situations that I had to deal with, including conflicts.

Learning Office Management in the Workplace

Office management is an all-encompassing occupation since an office manager one has to deal with different areas or levels in the workplace. Office management, for instance, involves the management not only of employees as well as other areas of operations, such as the preparation of reports and other forms of paperwork, the communication or collaboration with other offices in the company (e.g. Human Resource Department) to make systemic decisions or solve problems, and the resolution of conflicts and problems in the workplace, whether it concerns technical aspects of business processes or interpersonal relationships between staff members, among others. More importantly, office manager ensures that all operations from all areas of the company, run smoothly during the day (Schermerhorn, 2009), This big responsibility that necessitates application of knowledge, skills and competencies to accomplish this goal.

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As a former office manager, I had to deal with numerous tasks in different fields or areas of business operations. Based on experience, I learned that to be able to handle different aspects of office management, I should continue learning and exploring options to learn how I could accomplish my roles and responsibilities effectively, and most importantly, improve business operations to obtain better outcomes, through strategic and output-based management. Moreover, one must be open in understanding different aspects of the business so as to see what areas need improvement (Verdin & Van Heck, 2001). In terms of experiential learning, I was able to accomplish most of my roles and tasks by initially adopting experience of people and goings on at the office and consequently making and noting observations by watching. As previously discussed, experiencing and watching constitute diverging, which is a means to identify concepts, issues and problems that could possibly be addressed later on through abstract thinking and active experimentation (Kolb, 1984; Beard & Wilson, 2005).

By being present in the workplace and consciously watching people and goings on at the company, I was able to discern how I would be able to carry on with my job as office manager. It turned out that instead of formal definitions or stereotypes of office management, I was able to define what I had to do to manage the office by experiencing and observing the workplace. It was by watching employee interactions, for instance, that I learned about the interpersonal dynamics within the workplace and discern whether the staff got along well together or needed time to build rapport and for management to hold team-building sessions. In other aspects of management, such as drafting of paperwork, I was able to assess evaluative reports of the company’s human resources by observing how the staff worked individually. Making observations allowed me to identify how well the staff was performing on different aspects of their work.

The observations I made allowed me to think about how I should act and perform as an office manager. In a way, my observations of “life” at the office helped me define what I had to do as the office manager. I thought about what my observations meant and realized that I knew how I should act around people and how I could get my tasks done by observing how the office worked as a system. At this point, I was able to apply abstract conceptualization to interpret my observations (Mobley, Wang, & Li, 2009).

Consequently, my thoughts and ideas allowed me to work on doing what I needed to do as the office manager. Knowing the kind of relationships within the workplace as well as the environment based on observations and as a result of conceptualization, I was able to identify and accomplish my specific roles. This stage incorporates the process of converging, which is part of experiential learning. The stage of accommodating, on the other hand, resulted in self-assessment through which I was able to do my work and at the same time “feel” or assess how well I was doing my job.

Conclusion

Experiential learning had helped me make valuable decisions and solve problems while I was a billing manager, regarding a position of an office manager, experiential learning helped me define my profession. Based on experience, I learned that office management, which encompasses wide-ranging aspects of business operations, must be executed to meet the specific needs of the office. By feeling and watching or making observations, I was able to identify what areas of the office I had to focus on as well as what kind of manageement style I had to apply to accomplish the company’s goals and objectives. I would be able to apply what I have learned to the roles and responsibilities I would be assuming in the future. Knowing oneself or self-certainty is important in staying true to God’s mission as a Christian, and thus, using ones experiences to define oneself could be beneficial in helping one maintain an intact or unbroken faith.

III. Managing Stress in the Workplace

Introduction

Since 2012, I have been working as an Accounting Commercial Receivables Support Representative at United Airlines. As a service representative in the accounting department, I am responsible for processing and monitoring financial data for the company. Since the job deals with numerical data from key account receivables and daily balances, among others, the workload is very stressful among all service representatives. United Airlines is aware of this so the company implements a practice through which service representatives would be able to move around every after two hours to take a break, eat healthy food, participate in the BE FIT Challenge, participate in relaxing activities and avail of benefits, compensation, and incentives that help the staff relax and be entertained. Through the activities we had to do in the workplace, I learned how to manage stress effectively.

Managing Stress in the Workplace

Workplace-related stress is a major problem that needs to be addressed in order to keep organizational staff motivated, productive and effective in their specific roles and responsibilities (Hillebrandt, 2008; Long & Kahn, 1993). Stress does not only manifest physically but also mentally and emotionally, which prevents people in the workplace from performing well and fulfilling their roles and responsibilities. Therefore, it is imperative for organizations to implement policies, practices, and programs or schemes to help employees prevent or manage stress effectively.

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Based on experience, I learned how to manage stress not only by following the policies of United Airlines but also by taking a step back to identify which of the stress management activities implemented by the company worked for me. I experienced different stress management activities offered by United Airlines. I took advantage of these activities when I could prevent the stress from further raising. In this way, I experience or feel how it is to manage stress in the workplace. Similarly, I made observations to know which activities helped my colleagues more and which ones worked for me. By diverging, through feeling and observing, I was able to discern whether the stress management activities I participated in worked for me or not. Feeling and observing made me take a closer look at myself to know if the activities relieved my anxieties or helped me calm myself.

After the stage of diverging, I also had to think and focus on the stress management programs or activities that worked for me. Through abstract conceptualization, I was able to clearly identify which activities were effective in managing stress. For instance, I discovered that having breaks every two hours by walking around inside and outside the office worked in helping me wind down, but rotating activities made me feel more stressed because I had to handle different types of work without a break. Moreover, by feeling, observing, and thinking about the stress management activities I participated in, I also realized that sleeping more and having days off were more effective in relieving stress than receiving bonuses. Therefore, I realized that the outcomes of stress management activities or programs are relative to the interests and preferences of individuals; hence, it is important for companies like United Airlines to implement diversified stress management programs depending on the needs and demands of employees.

Once I identified which stress management activities and programs worked on me, I chose to do these activities rather than participate in other activities that did not work or made me feel more stressed. Choosing stress management activities is part of active experimentation, which continues to accommodation by feeling or experiencing how these activities and programs helped me become more productive and effective in the workplace.

Conclusion

Based on my experiences at United Airlines, I learned that experiential learning could be applied to help oneself become more productive and effective in the workplace by making logical choices. Realizing that not all stress management techniques worked on me helped me become more proactive in looking for other effective activities. In addition, it helped me manage my time effectively by participating in stress management activities or programs that worked on me instead of wasting my time on other activities that did not work or only worsened  my situation by aggravating workplace-related stress. I believe that in the future, this aspect of experiential learning would help me make better choices by looking for options or solutions that worked instead of wasting my time on other things just because these are accessible or readily available. The idea also translates to a Christian worldview, such that I would be able to choose personal and professional activities (e.g. at home, the community, or the workplace) that did more good than harm, especially in helping others get in touch with their faith or helping them learn Christian values instead of making them do activities or projects that are not productive or useful. Making better choices as a Christian necessitates sacrifice and self-awareness, such that one relieves worldly desires and becomes aware of what types of activities one should do to accomplish spiritual wholeness.

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