Reflective Practice is the deliberate process of reflecting on an experience or experiences over span of time in order to gain insight and improve in your primary role.
It is often a personal act, but it can also be done in the context of supervision or coaching. As a way to demonstrate the value of both, particularly as a way to improve productivity and overall engagement of employees.
In 2022, Gallup conducted their annual employee engagement survey. The results from this year showed a decline in employee engagement of 4%. This was the first decline in over a decade. Additionally, ‘Active Disengagement’ rose by four points.
Coming on the heels of the Great Resignation and “quiet quitting,” this news may not come as a surprise. However, writing it off as a one-time event would be dangerous.
Gallup identified specific areas of concern among employees. The areas with the most significant decline were:
- clarity of expectations
- connection to the mission or purpose of the company
- opportunities to learn and grow
- opportunities to do what employees do best
- having someone who encourages their development
No one is saying they need to be managed. Frankly, the topics on this list are often not the focus of a supervisor or manager. This list resembles many areas a coach would focus on, such as gaining clarity, goal-setting, regular feedback, autonomy, and personal and professional development.
One of the recommendations Gallup proposes is to develop coaching skills among managers. They also recommend managers meet weekly with employees for 15-30 minutes to discuss these areas.
Coach them up.
One of the ways managers can improve their coaching skills is to use Reflective Supervision.
Reflective Supervision is a collaborative approach to encouraging employees to reflect on their performance, specifically what went well (what they do best), and to foster the development of problem-solving skills (an opportunity to learn and grow).
Last week, I shared a list of questions to help extract the lessons from your success. These same questions are also effective in supervision to support and encourage reflection.
Here they are again.
What were the steps you took? Name them.
What did you do or say?
Why did you make that choice?
Why do you think it worked?
What did you do next?
What was the result?
Was it what you expected?
And then what happened?
What did you do or say next?
Why did you choose to do that?
Again, this is not a formula. Use the questions that work for the situation.
Each question is meant to anchor the employee in their actions and decisions. This is how supervisors can help employees uncover the lessons of their success. More importantly, it becomes a method for learning more about each employee, their strengths, and how they approach their work.
This goes beyond helping employees feel more engaged to actually becoming more engaged. Of course, feel free to use the questions in your own Reflective Practice.