The Year in Review – 2023 Coaching Reflections

As the year draws to a close, I am taking some time to reflect on some of the key themes that have emerged both for me and my clients. Taking a moment to pause has always been important to me before I enter a new year, as it provides valuable insights about personal growth, development, failures, and successes that I can take forward, moving into the new year with energy and awareness. In this blog we will explore those key themes and I’d love to hear what you would add, and what your themes would be as you reflect too. 

Psychological Safety

Feeling safe at work is vital to performing well and feeling part of a team. Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard University talks about there being four stages to creating psychological safety in the workplace:

  1. Feeling included and accepted.
  2. Feeling safe to learn.
  3. Feeling safe to contribute.
  4. And feeling safe to challenge the status quo.

Identifying what each of these looks like for you personally, as well as for the team can be a great first step. This year I have worked with a variety of teams and individuals who have valued working this through. I notice that when psychological safety is there, people show up as their true selves, feeling able to take risks, share ideas, and be creative. Work seems to be more fun in this environment too as there is acceptance and room for inclusion. For me personally, feeling safe connects in with trusting others and when I am in that environment, I know that I am at my best and bringing all of me to the workplace. 

Question: How psychologically safe do you feel at work?

Question: What would it take to increase your feelings of psychological safety?

Mental Wellbeing

This year I have noticed a huge increase in people bringing mental wellbeing to coaching sessions and being much more open to normalising low mood when it arises. I also notice that the more people surface it and talk about it, the more they do, they seem able to work out strategies to increase their feelings of satisfaction. Even the smallest step seems to make a big difference.

For example, moving from never taking a lunch break to putting time in twice a week to go out and connect with colleagues, or at home sharing how we are feeling more regularly with those closest to us and creating space to properly listen to the other person. I can think of so many examples in coaching sessions that have made a huge difference to that person’s mental wellbeing. I advocate that we surface and share (in a safe space) how we are feeling – sometimes the act of saying it out loud is enough as we feel heard. I encourage us all to resist the urge to solutionise. Our presence and partnership with the person is what seems to matter the most. 

Question: Who can you reach out to who would listen to you?

Question: Who could you provide a listening ear to that would value it?

Personal Development

I notice that our career moves through different seasons, at times personal growth is plentiful, and at other times we can feel a sense of stagnation where we don’t feel we are learning or growing. Finding different ways to develop may be as simple as changing our mindset towards everyday work. For example, a meeting with others can be turned into personal growth when we must present on a new topic, or influence in a different way. Sometimes these small developmental moments build up to creating new skills and behaviours – if we are open to them.

At the start of this year, I set myself some professional milestones, one of which was to become a coach supervisor. Whilst the programme was amazing, it was challenging at times, both creating time and space for it as well as challenging me to think differently and develop new skills. Whilst the training programme was beneficial, the growth for me came outside of the training room, as I tried out new ways of supporting people and I learnt that my learning style is practical. I value testing things out in a real situation much more than hypothetically. 

Question: What is your learning style? 

Question: What are your key milestones of personal growth this year?

Reflection Time and Self Awareness

By increasing moments of reflection time each day, week or month, we can see ourselves from different perspectives and gain new awareness. The Johari window model shows us that we all have blind spots, and we want to work towards reducing the number of blind spots we have. Whilst I work as a coach and provide people space to reflect in coaching sessions, I also value this time myself.

This year I have increased the space to reflect from receiving coaching and supervision to regular time with friends to chat things through. I notice that as the year ends, I have many more habits in place to give myself the time and space to be more aware. I also value feedback and asking for it more often has also been very useful too. 

Question: What habits could you create to increase your reflection time?

The Way We Work

Hybrid working has been a hot topic in coaching sessions this year. I notice that as organisations decide on their hybrid policies, individuals then have a period of adapting to this and coaching sessions have been a useful place to work this through. For me personally, I value autonomy and choice in how I work, so this year I have focused on creating my own model of hybrid working which includes time in my home office as well as time in a co-working space. The blend of these two environments keeps me energised and I also had a home office refurbishment this year too, as I value the environment around me.

I notice that working is so much more than one dimension, including a mix of the times of day we work best, the environment and space we work in, and the people who we are surrounded by.  Whatever your organisation’s policy is, I wonder how you can create, within that, some great habits about how you work best? 

Question: What changes could you make to your ways of working so that you are at your most productive?

In Summary

I could have added even more themes into this blog, and yet these were the ones that came out as prominent this year. I wonder what this has made you think about as you explore and reflect on your personal themes for this year? I’d love to hear from you

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