More than six months have passed since the Coronavirus struck the world, and society is gradually moving into a state of affairs known as the “New Normal”. Although the number of infections in South East Asian countries are still low, the situation still has not be back like before.
When I think about what is different between now and before corona, I think one of the risks for companies is that there will be less “Reflection” in our organizations. So today I would like to write about “reflection”.
Reflection is an essential part of people’s and organizational growth
Reflection, in other words, is the act of looking back on an action and drawing learning from it. Sometimes the word “conceptualization” is used to refer to it.
A clear example is the act of writing a diary. Or, as a company, you might request employees to write a report. In any kind of format, every day or every week, we look back at what happened, and we think about what we have found and what we can learn from it. These acts are called as reflection.
Reflection can be described as verbalization, the act of turning vague feeling inside you into words. The reason why you have to put it into words is because you can’t say you are learning until you verbalize it. To be a little more precise, if you haven’t put it into words, you are less likely to change your actions in practice.
For example, if you make a mistake at work and your boss punishes you for it, you might be remorseful at the time, but some people make the same mistake again. If you are such a person, it can be said that you are not reflecting on your mistakes enough. The people who can grow from making mistakes are the ones who crystallize important lessons and key for success, by deeply pondering about the process of failure.
There is an article about reflection in the Harvard Business Review, too.
Research by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats in call centers demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect.
Growth, especially internal growth, is the accumulation of lessons learned. People who have the habit of introspection are the ones who are building up the lessons learned on a daily basis.
Not only in the business world, many top athletes also keep a diary. Practicing while thinking about it, rather than just practicing every day, can lead more to improvements in the way they play the sports
Corona reduces reflection?
It is not easy for you to do a proper reflection by alone. You need a meaningful triggers for that.
The most important trigger is being “questioned” by someone.
Even in the earlier example of failure, you can have a conversation with your boss or a senior colleague and be asked some questions such as ; “If you have to do it again, how would you do it?”. Then you have chance to think deeper and more likely to come up with some new perspectives such as; “I will involve more people” or “I will look into the past cases before working on this”.
People who are good at reflection can ask questions by themselves, but not everyone can do that. After all, communication from your boss and colleagues is very important trigger for reflection.
We also need proper “materials” that give us a chance to think.
Unexpected events and information that you come across in your daily life can also give you a chance for reflection. You can connect a new perspectives gained to other topics. The encounter with such food for thoughts also greatly facilitates our reflection.
Remote working system has dwindled the amount of chatter at work. Also, the social distance due to Covid-19 has reduced the frequency of company gatherings. They served not only to provide fun, but also to provide new tips for work and insights to people.
Doesn’t the reduction of human contact result in fewer spontaneous questions from the colleagues and fewer encounters with the right material for thinking in your workplace?
This would lead to a stagnation of individual growth that was occurring unknowingly, as well as organizational learning due to the synergistic effects of that growth, and I think it’s already starting to happen in many organizations. I think this is one of the organizational challenges of the With-Corona era.
From Spontaneous Reflection to Deliberate Reflection
The possible conclusion we have reached is that we should embed intentionally- designed reflection process in our organizations.
With reduced human contact, we should not only expect spontaneous reflection, but we should also design an intentional process with by keeping following factors in mind.
Make a Routine
The first step is to create a routine that makes reflection a habit.
In online meetings, it tends to focus only on the agenda. Instead, you can deliberately incorporate time for reflection into meetings. Or, in a chat tools such as Slack, you can create a specific thread where people can write regular reflections.
The reflections should be shared and accumulated throughout the organization. In other words, it is an organization learning by utilizing individual lessons.
In this process, I would like readers to especially keep in mind that you should write reflections for the benefit of others as well. It is no doubt that each reflection is valuable for yourself, but lessons that are useful to many people as well will be more valuable to the whole organization.
Just you have the “Like” button in the Facebook, getting feedback makes people motivated. It also helps us to think more and encourage to write next time, too.
In the same way that subordinates will stop reporting if their bosses don’t make any comment, I think it’s important to have a system for reacting to good lessons shared.
These are what we have discussed above in terms of Deliberate Reflection. If you feel that the Coronavirus is slowing down your organization’s learning and growth, please check the state of your organization to see if there is enough “reflection”.