Why You Should Give Attendees a Little Time to Reflect

Author: Barbara Palmer       

It’s tempting to always want to pack more and more information into our own heads — and that of our attendees. But taking time to reflect on what we’ve learned enhanced productivity, according to mindfulness expert Leah Weiss.

In How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind,  Weiss cites research by Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino that demonstrates how taking the time to reflect can improve learning performance by up to 25 percent.

Gino’s study compared three groups of employees who were undergoing training. The first group spent the last 15 minutes of their day writing and reflecting on what they had learned; the second group did the same, but also spent five minutes explaining their notes to a fellow trainee. The third group, the control, group, neither reflected nor shared with others.

Over the course of one month, the group that reflected on what they had learned increased its performance on a test by 22.8 percent, compared to the control group. The group that both reflected and shared with one another performed 25 percent better on the test than the control group.

Despite the benefits of taking the time for reflection, making it a priority doesn’t come naturally to most people — the same researcher found that if given a choice, 82 percent of people would choose to spend time getting more experience rather than reflecting.

“It’s important for teams to take the time, even briefly — five minutes — to look back and reflect about lessons learned at the end of a meeting, or at the end of a project,” Weiss said.

It is key, too, in the context of failure, she said. “If you don’t learn why you failed, you are just going to make another mistake. Fail fast and iterate only works if there’s learning — if there’s learning, that requires reflection.”

For more ways that mindfulness can increase effectiveness, see our June cover story, “Working With Your Emotions.”