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Diagnostic and action skills

Diposting oleh belajarpsikologi on 21 November 2010
In his book Power and Performance in Organisations, Mangham (1986) argues that: one’s success as an executive is dependent upon one’s ability to consider oneself in the complexity of the organisation as a subtle, insightful, incisive performer. Successful executives appear to have a natural and/or a highly developed ability to read the actual or potential behaviour of others around them and to construct their own conduct in accordance with that reading. Not that this ability is peculiar to them—we all read behaviour and react—just that the more successful amongst us appear to do social life with a higher degree of skill than the rest of us manage. 
This book offers a series of conceptual frameworks that can be used for ‘reading behaviour’: that is, for diagnosing what is going on, and for constructing conduct to ensure that desired objectives are achieved. It also focuses attention on how these conceptual frameworks can be used to develop diagnostic and action skills. A football analogy illustrates the importance of these two complementary sets of skills: that is, diagnostic skills and action skills.

At half time, it is normal practice for the members of a football team to engage in a detailed review of how the game is progressing. Players use their diagnostic skills to understand what has happened, what they might have done differently to secure a better outcome and what, in the second half, they need to attend to if they are to achieve the result they desire. Good players also do this for themselves on a continuing basis throughout the match, so they are always aware of what kind of contributions they should be making. Action skills are concerned with intervening and making these contributions. Players invest a lot of effort in developing action skills such as marking, running with the ball, passing and shooting which enable them to deliver an appropriate contribution when required.
Although football players give a high priority to skill development in their work situation, training in other work
situations tends to emphasize technical and professional skills, and relatively little attention is given to the development of interpersonal skills. Most people learn how to relate with others on the basis of experience, through trial and error. Sometimes  this approach is successful, but often it is an unreliable and ineffective process of skill development. It is not unusual for people to develop habitual modes of relating with others that
consistently yield unsatisfactory results. 
For example, when managers and supervisors interview job applicants they may find it difficult to get them to talk about themselves and, even though they may have come across this problem many times before, they may not be aware of how their own behaviour contributes to the problem. Furthermore, they may have little awareness of alternative ways of behaving that could improve matters. Sidney, Brown and Argyle (1973) report that untrained and unskilled interviewers only do marginally better than chance when it comes to predicting satisfactory performance: a sobering thought when we remember that the interview is the most widely used selection tool. 
Trained interviewers, on the other hand, do very much better at predicting performance: evidence that the intentional development of interpersonal skills can produce tangible results.


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