Team reflection is for members to express thoughts, feelings and opinions about a shared experience, to build openness and trust in the team, and to draw out key learnings and insights to take forward to improve future application. Team members generally sit in a circle, or “U” shape. First reflecting individually, then sharing individual reflections with the group. Insights and learning emerge for future application and improvement. Use this session one or more times throughout a project or program.
There is more than one process for reflection. Reflection generally follows a logical flow; 1. What happened, 2. Analysis/Interpretation (What were contributing factors to what happened), 3. Learnings/Application, and 4. What Actions/Conditions to set up for next time. Things to keep in mind to lead a successful session; is your good intention, support the group to meet the purpose of the session, help keep group on track (time, discussions, content, culture, participation). Meet the group members where they are. Don’t force deep soul-searching if they want to keep the session light and playful, or vice versa. Be present with yourself. Listen to your hunches as they arise, and use them in the session if appropriate.
Create a welcoming, calm, and quiet space for the session to take place. You might want to start with a check-in to support the participants to feel present and focused.
If it is the first time the group does this exercise, introduce the purpose of team reflection and some guidelines for an effective group experience: participants should speak from their individual perspective (“I-statements”, I feel, I think, I noticed, I learned, etc.) , group members should avoid sweeping generalizations like; “we”, “everybody” and “some people”, and all should practice active listening when others are speaking.
You could introduce methods, approaches and behaviours that support team reflection, for example: Active Listening, Being Present, Appreciation for diverse viewpoints, listening for understanding, Learning by Doing, Team is Everything.
Option: You could capture these supporting behaviours on a flipchart and conduct a short discussion with the team members to explore any fears or confusion.
Introduce the following reflection questions. Write them on a flipchart or provide a printed handout, so the questions are easily visible:
What happened during the experience?
How did I feel and what were my reactions?
What insights or conclusions can I draw from the experience? What did I learn?
How can I apply what I learned to improve future experience? What actions can I take based on what I learned?
Ask the team members to reflect on the questions, individually and in silence, writing in their notebooks for about 5-10 minutes. Put some calm music on if appropriate.
After the set time, ask participants to organize in small groups (3-5) and share their reflections with each other. Give 15-20 minutes for this step and remind participants to ensure that each person gets the chance to share. This is an opportunity for the speakers to speak and for the listeners to listen for understanding. Listeners only ask clarifying questions, not intrusive questions.
Bring the full group back together. Invite team members to share their reflections one-by-one, either going round the circle or randomly. Encourage them to connect with how they’re feeling, and not only what they’re thinking.
The facilitator’s role here is to support the sense of trust and openness. Encourage participants to share from the individual “I” perspective (vs. “we” perspective), to practice active listening, and not to engage in discussion or debate
When the time is up or it feels like the right time to end, close the session. Thank the team members for their engagement and participation. Optionally, conduct a short check-out. For example; “Is there anything anyone wants to say before we move on?” Make sure they have a short break before the next activity.
Reflection has experienced a resurgence in business media the last few years, primarily as a mechanism to counter the effects of information abundance and distraction. Have a read through this article from HBR for some tips and benefits of finding unstructured thinking time in your day or week and also how working with a coach can be facilitated reflection process.