Reflecting on activities, events and projects in your can help you progress from complete beginner to a more skilled person who has learned from their experiences. It is also a useful tool for project teams and indeed whole organisations to adopt in order to improve their performance. It can very much be as Andy Lancaster recently mentioned in a Tweet something akin to “working out loud” as we reflect on our learning throughout a project or piece of work.
Here are some methods that you might want to consider.
Active reflection during an activity/project creates the opportunity for improving your performance as you start to spot gaps in your knowledge or things you tend to struggle with. “What should I do now?” is a common question when we are first starting on something. “What could I have done better?” is an example of the kind of question reflective practice raises. The answers you come up with can lead to a greater level of skill and confidence. They can also aid in problem solving and decision making to take a project forward.
Taking action about what you find will lead to personal and professional growth and development. If you find any gaps in your knowledge, more studying, a course or webinar, or finding a good coach or mentor can all take your skills to the next level. Adjusting priorities and determining new lines of action within a project can lead to success in the delivery of the project.
Reflective practice can also help you set goals. In terms of your professional development/career will no longer feel like it is not within your control and that things just happen to you at work. Instead, you will be feel more in charge because you know what you want and don’t want. The goals you set with the help of your reflective practice will be like a road map to the destination of your choosing. Otherwise you might end up driving around with no clear direction or with a project going off target and not being delivered.
Achieving your Goals
Once you have defined your goals, it will be time to take the practical action needed to achieve them. For each action that is a stepping stone toward your goal, you can apply reflective practice to make sure you are on the right track.
The Best Ways to Reflect
how can you get started? Here’s an easy formula. You might find it helpful to create a worksheet on your computer and print out several copies. Fill them in and analyse your answers. Again these can be adapted for an individual or a group working together
- What happened?
- What was my role in the event?
- How do I feel about what happened?
- Who owns what happened?
- What was the outcome of the event?
- How was the outcome different or the same from what I expected to happen?
- What could I have done better in this situation?
- What actions can I take to help ensure a better outcome next time a similar situation crops up?
Answering these questions requires honesty, and the willingness to learn and grow. No one is expecting you to be perfect. However, most people will want to be the best they can be in their profession, so apply reflective practice and see what a difference it can make to you.