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Reflective Practitioner - ReView

Belinda couldn’t believe what that simple question had revealed. “What do you see?” Her coach had asked her to press pause, to freeze frame the moment, and then asked her t

o revisit the situation. To say what she saw about people and their reactions and where it might be coming from. To revisit the culture at the time and explore and be curious at the underlying currents of thinking in the organisation. She now saw the situation much clearer in a full 360-degree picture.

“Ok,” said the coach, “now it’s time to review what is really at play and what really are the key issues. We are going to look at what is working well and what needs to be better, to analyse what might be sitting as the root cause under the issues and to conclude what you need to focus on.”

Belinda could feel that she was already feeling more in control of this situation than she felt before she had walked in the door and she hadn’t even started the review yet.

Feeling on top of an issue and regaining control of it, starts with clarifying and reflecting on what actually is going on. Last week we started the journey of examining the four key elements of being a reflective practitioner.

  • ReVisit – Say what you see. What could sit at the root of it? How did it feel? What could sit at the root of it?

  • ReView – Evaluate what worked well and what could be better. Analyse and conclude.

  • ReFrame – What could this look like?

  • ReBuild – what is the one thing that could have the biggest impact? Consider the Priority, Partner and Plan.

This week we look at what a full ReView looks like. Just like ReVisit, it is all about getting clarity.

What is working well – the keys to success?

When reviewing a situation, the tendency is to zoom straight into what isn’t working. This is, of course, ultimately what the review is for, to review what isn’t working and make it better. But interestingly, we can find lots of answers in what is working well. If something is working, then there are some clues there for us to help us with the things that are not working so well. Let’s take a look into Belinda’s coaching session to see how.

“What is working well either with people or systems?”

Belinda jumped straight to a list. Bernard’s team is engaged and really focused and they have a good atmosphere. The last marketing initiative showed a 60% rise in engagement on social media and a rise of 20% in new customers in the month. Wendy who headed up marketing was a marvel. We also have two great new staff that are really helping drive up customer service scores. There was something about Carina, head of customer service, that just knew how to find the right staff and fine tune them.

The coach paused and released his next series of can-opening questions.

“What do you think sits under the success of Bernard’s team?”

“What was it about the last marketing campaign that you think engaged people?”

“What has contributed to the customer service standards of the new staff?”

Before she knew it, Belinda has unpicked some key players in her organisation. Bernard, Wendy and Carina, maybe they held some of the keys to success?

The key to success in the ReView is about reviewing what contributed to making things work well? Is it the people, the systems, the culture? Once you unpick it, then maybe that DNA can be replicated in the areas that are not working so well?

What is working well – releasing us to think

Research by Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. in 2003, entitled Counting blessings versus burdens, * highlighted that when we are thankful it will promote the release of a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S). The effect of this hormone, counteracts the stress hormone Cortisol. With lower cortisol, this then enables us to think more creatively and problem solve as the negative impact of cortisol is reduced. So, starting with what is working well and being thankful for it, helps clear the head to think creatively about the way ahead.

What could be better?

“It’s good that you’ve helped me to see there are some positives because it feels a bit like a nightmare at the moment,” said Belinda still walking the tightrope of relief of finding some positives but still worried about the negatives.

“Ok, you said ‘nightmare’, what does the nightmare look like and feel like?” said the coach, still with the tone of reassurance and expectancy that Belinda would find a way through all of this.

Belinda recounted the falling sales figures over the last six months and a number in the team whom she was concerned about their approach. The coach released a series of questions that helped her to dig down underneath the issues.

“Where are the figures dropping the most?”

“Who was she concerned about and what were her concerns?”

“What might sit underneath these issues?”

Belinda’s review enables her to pinpoint exactly what is causing the problem. It is a temptation to see the whole thing as a nightmare. But careful ReView, allows a clearer picture. In her case it is certain members of staff and a particular department. Dig down a little deeper with the question of “what does the customer feedback tell you?” and you see that the team in the sales department lack some of the customer engagement skills. Dig a little deeper with “what do you think might be causing this?” and you realise the training and development this team has had is not strong and there is not a culture of accountability to great customer experience from their team leader.

The principles for all of us to use when we ReView what isn't working are

  • Classify the items that are causing a problem

  • Clarify what is actually not working well. When does it happen and who is involved?

  • Consider what sits underneath these issues. What are the causes?

Those of us, who have got this far in the story, have already connected the dots with Belinda’s situation of what is working well to find a solution. But before we run ahead of ourselves, we need to follow the process and explore next week how you ReFrame what you want it to look like and ReBuild the following week using some of the strengths you have.

Can we help you?

We hope this blog has been helpful and if you would like some more targeted support to understand a situation better and move forward then Everyday Leader is here to help you. Our clients find their coaching empowering, as we help them gain a full perspective and find a way forward. If you have a challenge and you would like our support, then do get in contact with us. Give us a call on 01449 710438 or email if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you.

Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know. Contact us now:

* Footnote. In 2007, R. A. Emmons released his book Thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. This was based on the original study by Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. in 2003, entitled Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84: 377-89. In this study, they found that thankfulness, releases a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S). The effect of this hormone, counteracted the stress hormone Cortisol. With lower cortisol, this then enables us to think more creatively and problem solve as the negative impact of cortisol is reduced.


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