Thursday, January 3, 2008

Guidelines for Structured Reflection

If you use weekly structured reflection, you can see the patterns in the problems you face and how you solve them. You'll be able to see how your responses change over time. In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins suggest setting aside 15 minutes at the end of each week and to reflect on the following questions:

What do you feel so far?

  • On a scale of high to low, do you feel:
  • Excited? If not, why not? What can you do about it?
  • Confident? If not, why not? What can you do about it?
  • In control of your success? If not, why not? what can you do about it?

What has bothered you so far?

  • With whom have you failed to connect? Why?
  • Of the meetings you have attended, which has been the most troubling? Why?
  • Of all that you have seen or heard, what has disturbed you most? Why?

What has gone well or poorly?

  • Which interactions would you handled differently if you could? Which exceeded your expectations? Why?
  • Which of your decisions have turned out particularly well? Not so well? Why?
  • What missed opportunities do you regret the most? Was a better result blocked by you or by something beyond your control?

Are You as Proactive as You Can Be?
Michael Watkins writes:

"Now focus on the biggest challenges or difficulties you are facing. Be honest with yourself. Are your difficulties situational or do their sources lie within you? Even experienced and skilled people blame problems on the situation rather than their own actions. The net effect is that they are less proactive than they could be."

Key Take Aways
I'm a fan of reflection. I think it can help you avoid being the frog in the boiling pot (that doesn't know when to get out.) I think the trick is using the right sets of questions. I particularly like the fact that Michael includes a question focused on how you feel, right up front. I think it's easy to get wrapped up in logic and miss what your gut might be trying to tell you.


Alik said...

Very helpful for me. I am newbie manager and these reflection questions are just what I really need now. Thanks

J.D. Meier said...

Great to hear.

I think it's help to make an Outlook reminder with the questions.

Here's another example you may find helpful - Outlook Reminder for Leadership Practices -

Alik said...

Done - it is now my weekly recurrent self meeting with the checklist - very helpful