Imagine you have an appraisal meeting with your manager. You discuss your work performance and identify areas for improvement. Your manager talks about specific areas in which you’ve succeeded and others where you need to put in some more effort. The entire exercise will give you a chance to reflect on the progress you have made and the areas you need to work upon.
Reflective practice is similar to a performance appraisal. The only difference is that here you, and not your manager, will reflect on your achievements and failures, and identify areas where you need to improve. This practice will help you not only identify problem areas but also learn from past mistakes.
Let’s look at reflective practice in detail to understand how it’s an important aspect of the learning process at the workplace.
What Is Reflective Practice?
The meaning of reflective practice is thinking about your experiences and making an effort to learn and improve them. It’s an important habit that can be developed for career advancement.
In a professional space, you not only need to focus on adding to your skills but also need to rectify past mistakes and make necessary changes to your existing skill set or way of working. For instance, if you missed a few deadlines on a critical project, organize yourself better and ensure it doesn’t happen again in future projects.
Engaging in reflective practice also helps the productivity of the team you are a part of. Working in collaboration means being interdependent. Reviewing your mistakes and rectifying them will help you become a more reliable team member.
Learning from your mistakes isn’t just relevant to a professional setting. Human beings have been doing this since the beginning of time. It comes as a natural instinct to most. Making a conscious effort to correct yourself is part of the learning process.
How Do You Practice Reflection?
Based on philosophers John Dewey and Donald Schön’s research, there are three types of reflection: reflection-on-action, reflection-in-action and reflection-for-action.
Reflection-on-action is about reflecting on your past actions to identify areas for improvement and increase learning.
Reflection-in-action is reviewing what you’re doing at present and making changes as you go along.
Reflection-for-action is making better decisions for the future based on conclusions drawn from past and current problems.
Each of these types of reflection focuses on different aspects of time—past, present and future. Reflecting on your past, present and future will help you make informed decisions, improve work performance and contribute to your personal development.
Examples Of Reflective Practice
The definition of reflective practice is rooted in your ability to use it to your advantage. If done regularly, it can help you become an effective problem-solver and build lasting relationships at work. Here are some examples of reflective practice to illustrate these points:
Mira got into an argument with a co-worker over a task. In the heat of the moment, she said some hurtful things she didn’t mean. But as soon as she made those remarks, she realized her mistake. She knew that this could negatively impact their relationship. So, she reviewed her actions and sincerely apologized for what she had said.
Parth works in the logistics department at his organization. Due to an oversight, the deliveries for a recently-launched product got delayed by two-three hours. Parth decided to revisit his strategy to figure out the reason behind the delay. Reassessing strategies helped him identify the error and fix his mistake.
There are many benefits of reflective practice:
Problem-solving in the workplace
Resolving conflicts and improving relationships
Improved work performance
Formulating effective business strategies for implementation
Personal development for workplace impact
Reflective practice is an important part of self-awareness. Learning about how you can improve as a professional is a stepping stone to reaching your goals.
Harappa Education’s in-depth online course, Learning Expertly, will teach you more about reflective practice with Kolb’s Cycle of learning. It has four stages—concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation—that’ll show you how to learn from your experience and plan for the future. With our course, you’ll be able to respond well to challenges, deal with setbacks effectively and take responsibility for your mistakes.
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