What is the Gibbs' Reflective Cycle?

The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle is a Tool that helps professionals Grow and Learn from their past Experiences.

 

To do this, it proposes to analyze the Situations in which someone wants to Improve.

  • Drawing Conclusions that allow us to do things better in the future.

 

It consists of 6 Repetitive Steps (a cycle):

  • Description.
  • Feelings.
  • Evaluation.
  • Analysis.
  • Conclusion.
  • Action Plan.

This cycle must be repeated until Obtaining the Desired Results.

The Six Steps of Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

1. Description: Describe in detail the Situation in which you want to improve.

  • A Negotiation, A Decision you made, a Discussion with your employees, etc.

 

2. Feelings: Reflect on How you Felt in that Situation, How you Coped with it.

  • Did you feel Insecure? Did you feel Determined? Did you Hesitate?

 

3. Evaluation: Evaluate the Experience and its Outcome, Objectively.

  • What Consequences did it have, What worked, What did not, etc.

 

4. Analysis: Analyze the Reasons that explain the Result of this Situation.

  • Why something worked or didn’t work. Why you Made that Decision, etc.

 

5. Conclusion: Get the Lessons from this Analysis; How to do things better.

  • What could have been done better? What could be done in a different way?

 

6. Action Plan: Develop and Implement a Plan to do things better.

  • Applying the Conclusions obtained in this Cycle.

 

Repeat the Cycle until Reaching the Desired Results.

 

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle Template

 

Now, before sharing some examples, we want to explain one important thing:

  • How to use this Cycle.

 

We know that it can get a bit Confusing (Feelings, Action Plan, etc).

 

That is why we’ll offer you a Guideline that you can Follow.

  • It can be used for your Personal Analysis or, in Coaching Situations.

How to use the Gibbs Reflective Cycle

Description: Details are important, as is the Context of any Situation.

  • Enumerate:
    • The Place and People Involved.
    • What Interactions happened.

 

Feelings: They Can give us a Clue as to what we need to Improve.

  • If we feel Insecure, it is usually because we do not know the Subject well enough.
  • Check:
    • What made you feel Uncomfortable?
    • What made you feel Determined?

 

Evaluation: Here, you should not try to find Reasons, only Facts.

  • Write down:
    • What worked, What didn’t work, and under What Circumstances.
    • The Outcome: What happened After the Situation?

 

Analysis: Now it is the time to find the Whys.

  • Take your Time to Answer:
    • Why is the Reason something Worked? The Root Cause.
    • Potential Root causes causing you a Problem.

 

Conclusions: Time to “Connect the Dots” and obtain Solid Conclusions.

  • Think and List:
    • What Solid Conclusions have you Obtained?
    • What Could have been done better?

 

Action Plan: Now, you have to put things into Practice.

  • For Developing a Successful Action Plan, we suggest:
    • Set Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Time-Related Goals.
    • Use Objective Metrics.

Let’s see some examples:

Gibbs Reflective Cycle examples

Now, let’s Imagine that you have recently been Promoted to Manager.

 

You are very happy about it, but you do not feel very Comfortable when you face your employees.

  • Sometimes you have to impose yourself, so that what you say is done.

Also, it is something you would like to Improve on.

 

That is Why you decided to use Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.

 

Let’s see How you use it:

Description - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

 

The Situation in which you want to Improve:

  • It is You and your Employees (no matter Who).
  • You are In front of them alone or in a collective meeting.
  • You Want things to be done in a New way.
  • You Tell them how they have to do things from now on.

Feelings - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

 

After thinking Carefully about it, you Discover that you Felt:

  • Anxious about Compelling People to do Something.
  • Insecure about you Authority.
  • Determined about the Need of doing the Things in a New Way.

Evaluation - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

 

You then Evaluate what happens in these Situations:

  • You Compel your employees to do what you say.
  • They obey you.
  • Those who know you best Respond much better to your Commands.
  • Those who don’t know you are more Reluctant to change.

Analysis - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

 

Now, you start thinking about the Whys:

  • You feel Anxious when faced with employees reluctant to Change.
    • This makes you Feel Insecure.

 

  • Those Who know you better, Rely on you.
    • They don’t make you Feel Anxious or Insecure.

 

  • Your Results are very good but Some employees don’t appreciate them.
    • This makes them reluctant to obey you.
      • That and, the fact that you are New in the Position.

Conclusion - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

 

You Obtain important Conclusions from this Analysis:

  • The People who don’t trust you are People who don’t Know you.
    • Or People that don’t know your Skills when making decisions.

This People are Reluctant to “obey” you, and make you Feel Insecure and Anxious.

 

  • You need to know your employees better.
    • So they will Trust you more.

 

  • You need to Show the Results obtained with your Methods to everybody.
    • This way, all your employees will Appreciate your Skills.
      • And they will Trust your Authority more.

Action Plan - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

 

Finally, you decide to Develop an Action Plan:

  • You Will Arrange Weekly meetings with your employees.
    • Starting with those who know you least.

 

  • You will Install a Board where you will Track and Show the Results obtained.
    • Comparing the Previous Results with the Current ones.

 

You Estimate that you will need 2 months to have met with all your employees.

  • After this time has passed, you will Evaluate your Progress.
    • And decide if you need to repeat this Cycle again.

Summary

The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle is a Tool that helps professionals Grow and Learn from their past Experiences.

 

Consists of 6 Repetitive Steps that must be repeated until getting the desired Results:

  1. Description: Describe in detail the Situation in which you want to improve.
  2. Feelings: Reflect on How you Felt in that Situation, How you Coped with it.
  3. Evaluation: Evaluate the Experience and its Outcome, Objectively.
  4. Analysis: Analyze the Reasons that explain the Result of this Situation.
  5. Conclusion: Get the Lessons from this Analysis; How to do things better.
  6. Action Plan: Develop and Implement a Plan to do things better.

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