I think we can all be in absolute agreement that this year has certainly been a challenging one in so many aspects.
But in this period between Christmas and New Year, many people’s minds will be very firmly focused on hailing 2021 as a fresh start. The ending of a year and the beginning of a New Year is a great time to reflect back on the year just gone and look forward positively to the future, however the end of this year is far more eagerly anticipated than normal. Afterall, 2021 is the year when the vaccine becomes more readily available to the masses, the year we can reconnect again, the year we can finally get back to ‘normal’.
But is it really going to be back to normal? Are we really likely to just flip back to how things used to be?
Whilst I keep my fingers crossed that 2021 brings about all these great things aforementioned, I think we also need to be realistic. Most specifically in that the events of this year will likely impact us for some time to come and we will all need some time to adjust after what 2020 has thrown at us.
Everyone is talking about ‘building back better’. Whilst this is something that I actively encourage all UK corporations to do as we move into the new year – especially if we can all start to prioritise purpose within this rebuild – I believe there is something that must come first.
First, we must all take some time to reset.
When you think about it, so much of our lives are carried out without us knowingly thinking about what we’re doing. This is, after all, our daily routine and this process of being on ‘auto pilot’ is actually extremely helpful, not least just to get things done.
However, very often doing things this way can mean we can miss out on opportunities to get to know and learn more about ourselves and truly understand the problems we are trying to fix. Sometimes we need to step back and take a moment to self-reflect, individually in our personal lives, but also within the teams we work with too.
But why is self-reflection so important as we move into the New Year?
Since the pandemic began and notwithstanding the terrible loss of life that has occurred, the anxiety and uncertainly about what the future holds has been incredibly high. Not to mention, of course, how many people may have had to step away from a business or their teams, whether that be as a result of furlough or indeed because they have had to take time off to care for a loved one. Put simply, many of us have lost touch, not just with one another, but lost touch with what we are working towards and what we want to achieve in our careers. Teams have struggled to come together, both physically due to distancing, as well as mentally, morale has been impacted and employee engagement has been pushed down the priority list.
This is why I believe it is so integral to reset right now. Not only as an individual, but also as a team together. And to reset effectively, a process of self-reflection is required. Through this process we can all can regularly check in and review our performance and that of our team, understand and recognise our emotions and our impact on others whilst increasing our interest and curiosity levels, whilst maximising opportunities to adapt and improve.
Self-reflection also allows us all to individually understand what drives us and what makes us do what we do. Most of all it ensures we can fully show up as ourselves and love what we do.
But how does one start a process of self-reflection as a team? Here are six simple steps:
- For self-reflection to become part of your everyday conversation, you first need to embed the habit and therefore it is useful to start with some structure. So, select a regular time when your team can come together. Everyone will need to have been briefed on exactly what this allocated time is for before the session starts and also what the expectation of everyone is.
- In order to truly understand the depth of someone’s true reflections, status and seniority is not important. Remove physical and physiological barriers and reassure the whole team that no matter their job title or level, all opinions are encouraged and welcome. This levelling process is essential to ensure a real collaborative process. So be the first to share your deep reflections as this will demonstrate a level of humility and openness and pave the way for others to express their opinions with an open mind encouraging them to all fully participate.
- Decide what and when you intend to review. Self-reflection is a really useful process following or during a specific project, a theme or task, but is also really useful to carry out the process on the regular team operation. Perhaps start with the previous day, week or month’s activities. Make sure everyone is aligned on this, so you are all on the same page when you start.
- Ask each team member individually some simple questions and share these with the group so that there is shared benefit with the rest of the team. Typical questions might include the following; How has it been? What did I do which went well? What have I learnt that has been useful? What would I do differently? What have I done that I want to avoid in the future? What do I want to do more of tomorrow? What feedback can I offer a fellow team member?
- When problems are uncovered, discuss the problem-solving steps needed to solve them and put in place an action plan to tackle and countermeasure it to ensure that you can avoid it happening again. Not to distract from the self-reflection process, you may need to organise a different time to have the problem-solving discussion. Talk about this as a team and consider the learning about why the problem arose in the first place and what signs you all need to look out for in the future to spot any issues.
- Finally repeat, repeat, repeat. This process is about having an opportunity for you to stop and reflect and ultimately open yourself and the team up to learning. Just like anything in life, in order to get good at this process, it takes practice. So, it should never be a one off, rather a regular process that you practice as a team.
There has never been a more important time to create and sustain daily opportunities to connect with your team by truly listening and engaging with them.
It’s such an important restart step as we move into the New Year to get the team talking and engaging and to help them understand that the place that they work maybe different and is driving the imperative to change. It also gives everyone the opportunity to provide a personal commitment to one another and the business, creating a strong team dynamic and ensuring a positive energy.
So, before you jump head first into the New Year, take some time, reflect and reset first – you won’t regret it!