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Wrap it Up

December 12, 2012

Beginnings and endings occur time and again throughout our personal and professional lives:  the end of a year, project, assignment, position, relationship, class, event, phase, vacation, season, etc.  Much of the time we just roll onto the next thing without giving much thought to the previous one, and sometimes we hold so tightly onto what was or could have been that we have a difficult time moving forward.  These are two very normal approaches that make total sense given the pressures/pace of daily life, and the time/energy that we invest.  From a development perspective, both approaches may benefit from an open, honest and productive dialogue with ourselves and others.

True, many people think that talking about things that happened in the past is just drudging up old stuff that may have a lot of negative emotions and memories attached to it; hence they feel it’s not necessary to discuss or reflect on it any further.  This may be a healthy approach, yet it also may lead to continually repeating the same unsavory elements over and over and over again.  In both personal and business situations, spending a little bit of time reflecting with the intent to learn can lead us to…

Learn from mistakes or things that could have gone better.  Sometimes we could have controlled or minimized these with some forethought, other times it would not have made a difference.  Learning from the former and letting go of the latter can benefit us immensely.

Determine and prioritize improvements that will reduce future struggles.  This can be in terms of personal behaviors or skill sets.  It can also mean revising or formulating a process or guideline that teams utilize to improve consistency and performance.

Enhance dialogue for the next initiative.  Productive inner thoughts are a precursor to productive behavior.  Additionally, the ability to receive, verbalize and further communication is key to understanding various perspectives and collaborating for success.

Highlight effective behaviors that added to success.  Consciously engrain and celebrate the things that went well so they can be repeated and built upon.  Positive feedback is one of the most effective ways to increase motivation.

The reflecting process (commonly referred to as wrap-ups, lessons learned and post mortem’s) can be conducted through both written and verbal methods.  Depending on the situation, photos and video may also be beneficial.

 More specifically, as individuals, we can record our experiences and observations.  Then, for deeper understanding, we can optionally talk through it with a trusted friend, manager or coach.

Even in a team setting, it is recommended that each member dedicate some time to reflect independently prior to a team discussion.  Here are some steps for conducting a team wrap-up.

1.  Notify team members that a review will be held at the end (and, perhaps even periodically throughout) the project.

2.  Encourage them to record their thoughts along the way while the occurrences and memories are fresh.

3.  As the formal wrap-up approaches, notify the team again and set clear expectations for input.  Remember, the goal is to get honest input which can be used for future improvements.  Some options…

–  Everyone must submit at least 5 comments in writing

–  Be succinct and constructive with comments

–  Capture events that went well in addition to those that can be improved

–  Where applicable, include solutions/ideas to improve for the future

–  Use attached form and submit via email to (insert name here) by (insert date here)

–  All comments will be consolidated anonymously into one report, even the comments that are contradictory

–  An initial report will be distributed to team for review and then a team discussion will be held to further thoughts, improve/finalize report, and to prioritize the top 5    suggested improvements that will have the biggest impact on future efforts

4.  Follow-through with the steps outlined above.

 Regardless of the approach, be mindful of answering the following questions.

–  How well was the goal met?

–  What went well?

–  What could have gone better?

–  What lessons or improvements will have the biggest impact moving forward?

A well wrapped ending can free us up to move onto a fresh start with a clean slate and tangible ways to elevate success.

What wrap-up methods have you had success with?

© Viage Partners 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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