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Brighton School of Business and Management January 2012 Student Newsletter

Contributions from you, our students, are very welcome  if you have information, advice, website links, or ideas, that may be of help to other students, please send them to us.

Personal & Career Development

Using Gap Analysis

Gap Analysis is a simple but highly effective planning tool used to identify the “gap” between the current situation and the desired, targeted situation, and then planning action to close the gap, to reach the targeted situation.

In the context of personal and professional development planning, this means:

analysing the skills, expertise, knowledge, and qualifications that you have at the moment

identifying the skills, expertise, knowledge, and qualifications that you need to have to reach your targeted situation

planning development activity – undertaking training, gaining qualifications, taking on new roles, reading and researching – that will lead to you achieve your targeted situation

It can be shown as a 4 stage continuous process:

Current Situation:Relevant Skills   xxRelevant Knowledge  xxx

Areas of Expertise  x

Relevant Qualifications  xx

Targeted SituationRelevant Skills   xxxxRelevant Knowledge  xxxx

Areas of Expertise  xxx

Relevant Qualifications  xxxx


Action NeededTrainingReading and research

New experience(s)

Gain qualification(s)


Target Achievedthen the process repeated to ensure that continuous development is maintained 




Three very important points to note are that, as time passes:

if no action is taken then your skills, expertise, knowledge and qualifications will become less valuable, less relevant

it is almost inevitable that the targeted situation will need to be regularly revised as the expectations and demands of employers increase

continuous professional development is here to stay – to be successful you must actively and continuously manage your professional development

Our tutor team strongly recommends that our students at all levels, especially those wishing to move into or consolidate their position in a specialist or management role, identify the gaps in their knowledge of core management areas, and include learning more about them in their professional development action plans.

Gaining Knowledge and Understanding of Core Management Activities

Now more than ever, due to the intense, and increasing, pressures on public and private sector organisations to be more productive, to reduce costs, and to make better use of their resources, employers are demanding that their employees, at all levels, have a good knowledge and understanding of core business and management activities.

Every organisation, no matter how small or how large, now expects each employee to contribute actively and fully in helping the organisation achieve its objectives.

In order to make this contribution, each individual must make the effort to learn as much as possible about what are now established as the core management knowledge areas.

Learning about these topics can be through formal studies, and-or by self-study, ideally arranged and funded by the employer.

If the current employer is not supportive, then it is worth arranging and funding this personally, as the next employer will definitely be looking for people with such knowledge, and probably qualifications to confirm it.

The summaries below are taken from some of our business and management qualifications, particularly the Higher National Diploma range, the Management and Leadership range, and the Award-Certificate-Diploma range.

Each of the core activities are described along with an indication of the vast range of material and qualifications available to those wishing to learn more about each of the subjects.

Personal and Professional Development

An obvious subject – but it is one that many overlook.

Every individual in an organisation has the responsibility to continuously develop themselves, in order to perform to the best of their ability.

Every organisation has the responsibility to provide appropriate support that enables each individual to continuously develop and improve.

Every employer, in every sector, now expects to see strong evidence that potential employees, and potential promotion candidates, have recently undertaken some professional development.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

The Business Environment

Businesses operate in an environment shaped by their competitors, consumers-customers, suppliers, and national and international political and economic factors. Some organisations operate for profit, whilst others do not, but each one is structured and operates in ways that allow their objectives to be met. In addition, business markets (public and private) take various forms and this affects the way in which organisations behave.

It is within this business environment that organisations function and have to determine strategies and a modus operandi that allow them to meet their organisational purposes in ways that comply with the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks.

The current recession serves as a good example of how the business environment affects the way in which your organisation operates. To build a successful career in these circumstances it is essential to understand the internal and external forces which the organisation has to respond to, and why the organisation operates in the way it does.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Organisations and Behaviour

The way in which an organisation structures and organises its workforce will impact on the culture that develops within the organisation. The culture – the system of shared values and beliefs – will determine and shape the accepted patterns of behaviour of an organisations workforce.

A positive, developmental culture, focused on the continuous improvement of all the individuals, teams, resources, and activities carried out within the organisation, is the ideal, but not many organisations have achieved that.

An awareness and understanding of the organisation’s culture and the influence that it has on the behaviour and performance of individuals and teams, is essential for anyone who leads teams, supervises others, or manages.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Managing Financial Resources and Decisions

Despite the overwhelming evidence, many individuals, even in relatively high-level roles, will argue that knowledge of finance and accounting is not necessary.

However, this is simply not the case.

For anyone wishing to have a successful career, within a public or private sector organisation, or as an entrepreneur, an understanding of budgeting, financial planning, and management accounting, is essential. From team leader through to senior management, individuals are directly involved in managing operational budgets and in evaluating and responding to financial performance.

Finance departments are the specialists who advise and guide on these matters, but it is the operational managers who have to demonstrate that they can effectively manage the activities which are funded by the allocated budgets, and meet the financial performance targets in their area of responsibility.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Business Decision Making

In business, good decision making requires the effective use of information. To be effective in any supervisory, specialist, or managerial role, it is necessary to be aware of a variety of sources and to develop techniques in relation to data gathering, data analysis, decision making, and data storage.

High quality, reliable, accurate, and timely information is needed at every level in every organisation. Without it, the organisation cannot be successful. Without it, individuals with decision making responsibilities cannot be effective.

Understanding the decision making process and being able to contribute to it and use it effectively is an essential skill.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:


An understanding of the principles of marketing, and the importance of the customer-consumer-client, is now considered to be necessary for every employee.

In today’s world, in the public sector where “customers” can be patients, relatives, residents, or a community, and in the private sector where customers can be individuals or other organisations, being customer-focused – one of the core principles of marketing – is essential at every level within the organisation.

Although the Marketing professionals carry out the actual marketing activities, the whole organisation – everyone employed in it – must be aware of the fact that the main reason they are there is to help the organisation satisfy its “customers”, and show that they are playing their part in helping to achieve that objective.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Business Strategy

For any individual in a team leader, supervisory, specialist, or managerial position, an understanding of strategy is highly important.

At the lower levels, being aware of the strategies being followed by the organisation makes it easier to understand and achieve the operational targets. At the higher levels, it is necessary to make an effective contribution to the strategic planning process, and to understand and be able to help apply the strategies that are developed.

Strategy is the pathway – the direction – that the organisation has decided to follow to take it successfully into the future. It is not possible for anyone in a position of responsibility to contribute to the best of their ability unless they have a clear understanding of the strategy.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:


Historically, Leadership and Management have been considered as requiring separate sets of skills, and in many respects remains the case when we compare very senior, high level leaders with many operational managers.

However, it is rapidly becoming accepted that most managers are, in reality, leaders, albeit at a local and operational level. It is therefore necessary for them to understand the different models and styles of leadership, and the negative or positive effects the choice of style can have on the teams and individuals that they manage.

The same applies to more senior managers, and to those who do actually lead the organisation, or a large part of it. They too need to be aware of the different approaches that are available to them as high level leaders.

Understanding leadership and how it should be applied in different situations is therefore an essential area of knowledge for anyone managing others.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Contracts and Negligence for Business

Most individuals will not need more than a very basic understanding of this area, but one in a managerial position, it is necessary to have deeper knowledge of it.

Although the negative repercussions of problems with contracts are dealt with by the legal experts, it is the operational managers, especially in functional areas such as purchasing, finance, marketing, sales, and distribution, where the problems arise, and, often, could have been avoided if the individuals involved had been more knowledgeable about contract law.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Business Research

Once individuals move into a specialist, supervisory, or managerial role, or are involved in projects, then knowledge of research techniques becomes necessary.

Most organisations expect employees in these roles to take part in, or lead, internal research activities – projects – which involve the investigation of problems, or issues, or possibilities, and to prepare a report to present to more senior management.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Working With and Leading People

Managing human resources – individuals, teams, or groups – is an area of knowledge which everyone needs, but especially those who lead, supervise, or manage others.

Managing people effectively is critical – to every local, operational area of activity, and ultimately to the success of the whole organisation.

Anyone responsible for the performance of others, for the development of individuals and teams, will be expected to respond to and deal with the problems and conflicts that arise, and to successfully lead others to achieve the objectives set for them.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Managing Business Activities to Achieve Results

This is about the effective and efficient planning and management of business work activities. An understanding and particular skills are needed to contribute to the design and implementation of operational systems, to help improve their effectiveness and efficiency and to achieve the desired results for the business.

Anyone intent on a successful business career must be aware of the importance and interrelationship of business processes and the implementation of operational plans, together with quality systems and health and safety, in achieving satisfactory results.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Managing Communications, Knowledge and Information

Effective communication does not automatically take place in an organisation – it needs to be managed.

Poor communications is one of the most common causes of problems that organisations face – internally amongst their own employees, and externally with suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders such as the local community.

To be successful in any area of business, it is essential to have an understanding of the interaction between communications, knowledge and information, and how technology can be used to manage knowledge and information more effectively, and in the process to improve the quality of organisational communications.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Quality Management

Every organisation – public or private, large or small – must apply quality management tools, techniques, and approaches, if it is to survive.

It is now universally accepted that Quality Management should be at the heart of every organisation’s culture and one of the foundation stones on which it builds its strategy.

As a result, everyone – everyone – should be knowledgeable about Quality as it applies at their level – quality assurance and quality control operationally, integrated quality management systems throughout the organisation, and total quality management driving the culture of the organisation.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Project Management

Thirty years ago the management guru Michael Porter said that in the 21st Century every manager would be a project manager, and this is now the case in most organisations.

Yes, there are underpinning systems, processes, procedures, and routine activities, but most managers – in public and private sector organisations – now do manage “projects” – overlapping activities, tasks, jobs, change events, periods of the year – each of which is a mini-project which needs managing in the same way as larger projects do, but on a smaller scale.

As a result, project management principles, methodologies, tools and techniques are now an essential element in the manager’s set of skills.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Business Ethics

Most organisations now regard being seen to be behaving ethically as being essential to their being successful.

Business Ethics embraces corporate social responsibility and ethics relating to accounting practices, marketing, human resource management, and production, and to issues such as whistle blowing, employment practices, advertising to children, environmental awareness and using new technologies such as the genetic modification of food.

This is an aspect of business and management that is growing rapidly in importance, and one that all professionals should be knowledgeable about.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Corporate Environmental and Social Management

Businesses are increasingly realising that they need to go beyond, within the law, performance of their main functions. This realisation has been given impetus by increased worldwide emphasis on protecting the environment and sustainable development.

Managing the corporate environment is about taking a pro-active approach to managing the interactions between the organisation’s activities and its environment, and moving towards sustainable production and service delivery processes.

This is another aspect of business and management that is growing rapidly in importance, and one that all professionals should be knowledgeable about.

Useful resources on this topic can be found at:

Core Management Qualifications

At Brighton School of Business and Management we offer a range of courses which contain many of the management skill areas outlined above.

The HND Higher National Diploma in Business Management covers most of these areas, and also has some specialist options, such as Law, Human Resources, Marketing, and Finance. It is one of the most respected workplace qualifications, and can also be converted to a UK Bachelor Degree.

The Management and Leadership courses focus more intensely on a smaller group of subjects, and are designed specifically for those in, or moving into, middle management.

The Award-Certificate-Diploma courses offer in-depth study of areas such as Leadership, Marketing Management, Human Resource Management, Supply Chain Management, and Events Management.

If you would like information on these please visit

Study Resources of the Month


David Megginson: Continuing Professional Development – CIPD, 2007

P Wetherly, D Otter: The Business Environment: Themes and Issues – OUP Oxford, 2011

Laurie Mullins: Management and Organisational Behaviour – FT / Prentice Hall, 2010

Ray Proctor: Managerial Accounting for Business Decisions – FT / Prentice Hall 2008

Jim Blythe: Essentials of Marketing – FT & Prentice Hall, 2008

Ken Lawson: Successful Decision-making – New Holland, 2009

James Marson: Business Law – OUP Oxford, 2011

P Finlay: Strategic Management: An Introduction to Business and Corporate Strategy – FT & Prentice Hall, 2000

J Collis, R Hussey: Business Research: A Practical Guide – Palgrave Macmillan, 2009

C Leatherbarrow, J Fletcher: Introduction to Human Resource Management – CIPD, 2010

Julie Lewthwaite: Managing People for the First Time – Thorogood, 2006

Andrew Greasley: Operations Management – Wiley, 2009

McGraw Hilton: Managing Information in the Workplace – McGraw Hill, 2003

David Hoyle: Quality Management Essentials – Butterworth Heinemann, 2006

Dennis Lock: Project Management – Gower, 2007

Sally Bibb: The Right Thing: An Everyday Guide to Ethics in Business – Wiley, 2010

J Brady, A Ebbage: Environmental Management in Organisations – IEMA Routledge, 2011

Quotes from the Gurus

Live as if you were to die tomorrow – Learn as if you were to live forever – Mahatma Gandhi

Business people who are the busiest, the happiest, and the most prosperous are the ones who love what they’re doing, who love to learn new things, to meet new people, and to share what and whom they know with others – Tim Sanders

Life, for most people, is a process of discovery. Those who have tired of the journey have tired of life – Charles Handy

I have to say I’ve made many mistakes, and been humbled many, many times. But you know what? It’s never too late to learn – Kathy Ireland

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear to be – Socrates

Do not be afraid of growing slowly – but be very afraid of standing still – Chinese Proverb

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