October 13, 2023 • Article, De Pree Journal, Marketplace Leaders
Reflection is more than a self-help tool—it’s a way to help you and your team flourish in the workplace. Practicing reflection has been shown to help develop leaders and strengthen teams. Consider the following:
- Creating a habit of reflection “can separate extraordinary professionals from mediocre ones.”
- People who spent 15 minutes at the end of their work day reflecting performed better after 10 days than those who didn’t.
- Reflection increases self-awareness, a quality necessary for effective leadership.
Reflection has proven to be a useful tool to aid growth in the workplace. So why don’t we do it more? We can often associate reflection with criticism, assuming it serves only to show us our weak spots or how we need to improve. But when reflection turns negative it can lead to rumination, which can have undesireable side effects like anxiety, emotional exhaustion, and sleep deprivation.
The key to avoiding the pitfalls of rumination while leveraging the benefits of reflection is to engage with and lead your team in positive reflection practices. Here are two ways to do this right away with your team.
Use Strengths-Based Reflection Tools
One simple way to avoid rumination and negativity is to intentionally reflect on the strengths of the people on your team. According to Gallup, strengths-based development can
- lead to better collaboration, which has been shown to increase productivity and profitability,
- increase employee engagement, and
- lower employee attrition.
To be clear, this does not mean avoiding mistakes or ignoring growth spots. Instead, a strength-based approach begins with strengths, focusing on where individuals thrive. When a manager or team leader uses a strengths-based approach employees feel seen, valued, and motivated, which in return creates more trust and safety for them to reflect on their growth points and areas of improvement.
One way to guide your team in strengths-based reflection is through assessment tools specifically designed to analyze strengths. These tools help you help your employees get to know themselves while also giving you an overview of the scope of your team’s strengths. Here are the assessment tools we like:
Formerly known as StrengthsFinder, this is one of the most popular tools for assessing and understanding the strengths of those you lead. Clifton’sStrengths also offers tons of free resources on their website about these strengths and how to use them to help your team flourish.
Working Genius is a newer tool created by Patrick Lencioni, author of Five Dysfunctions of a Team, that offers a way to reflect on a team’s functionality and efficacy by assessing each team member’s “working genius” and “working frustration.” Working Genius also has resources to help you dive deep into understanding and transforming your team.
Make Time for Positive Self-Reflection
Cultivating a culture of reflection in the workplace doesn’t happen overnight. However, you can start guiding your team through this practice by carving out time quarterly, weekly, or even daily to create space for positive self-reflection. This could look as simple as dedicating the first 10 minutes of a meeting to a time of reflective journaling. Regardless, giving your team the space to pause and reflect benefits not only their personal growth but the growth of your entire team.
Need some simple ideas to help you and your team reflect? Try these.
- Read through these 13 safe and thoughtful reflection ideas to promote reflection among your employees.
- Read about Adam Grant’s approach to strengths-based reflection. His way involves interviewing those closest to you to find themes and patterns to help you assess your strengths.
- These self-reflection prompts for the New Year from Idealist.org are great exercises to help you reflect year-round.
Don’t Forget to Reflect on Yourself!
It’s important that as you lead others through positive reflection, you also positively reflect on your work and leadership, too. One article explains that leaders feel the weight of not only their employees’ professional burdens but their personal ones as well. This can leave leaders depleted and unengaged in their work. Here are a few ways to combat this.
- Spend a few minutes each morning writing about three things you like about yourself and the way you lead. Studies have shown this practice helps leaders stay engaged and energized.
- Challenge yourself to journal for 10 days using these prompts written by our very own Meryl Herr.
Take time to spiritually reflect using The Prayer of Examen. This prayer is an Ignatian spiritual practice that calls us to reflect on and notice God’s presence in our daily lives, including how God shows up during and outside of work.