I truly enjoy this time of the year. It is the holiday season for thinking about the year and what are you truly thankful for. For me, as a manager, I used this time to think back over the year and reflect on everything. I used to write down into three lists (Good, Bad and Just Ugly) how things went, how the team performed, how we learned, how we had grown and who had done an outstanding job. Sitting down reflecting is something that people talk about as a necessity, but rarely really do it (well). Writing it down, makes you really think about those situations. You have to ask questions like was this positive, did it have significant impact, what was learned and so on… For my teams, I usually ask them to do the same thing. It is nice to use, as a team building exercise for a pot luck or team dinner. Everyone gets an opportunity to share their observations.
Looking at the list can be a very eye opening experience. You can see trends for the year, that maybe while you were in the thick of things – just did not notice. I have seen growth within my teams in some areas that I would have guessed were not strengths. I also can notice if my team is slipping. I can notice the folks that really have stepped up and done some pretty incredible things.
“Seeing” is just part of what you should do… Next comes actions – you know the “doing” part. I like to send personal notes to the folks that have really stepped up. Let them know that I am thankful for those actions (spell them out in the note) that they had take. If you noticed, you should say something. From the team’s standpoint – I like to look at those trends and identify training or team building activities that can help our team grow next year. When the team does the same reflection, it is powerful stuff – when we pretty much notice the same areas. Now we have the complete team looking objectively, and we can put in place some solid plans for improvement.
Here is your assignment:
- Sit in a quiet place. Just you, your paper, pencil (or pen) and your thoughts.
- Reflect back on your year… What was the good? What was not so good or What could be better? Who really stepped up and did some incredible stuff?
- Once you feel you have captured everything. Reread them each and look for trends and opportunities that must be taken.
- Develop your plans for next year!
If you are a manager, if you feel comfortable, ask you team to do the same exercise (for themselves and the team as a whole). As the manager, you can have your team share their thoughts and reflections on the team. Then develop the team plans after all your data is received. I typically have the team use their personal reflection for their performance appraisal and development plans.
Let me know how it goes?