“Don’t just do something. Sit there.”
When it comes to training that changes behavior, it turns out that reflection is a necessary ingredient.
A 2015 Harvard Business Review article explains that reflection increases engagement, and it reiterates what we’ve known for a long time: reflection has a big impact on transference of skills learned in training.
A group of researchers looked at how reflection affects learning transference, both in controlled studies and in the real world.
One real-world study took place at a call center in Bangalore, India. The researchers studied three groups of employees who were given the same technical training, but each with one variable.
Control group: Employees in this group continued working at the end of each training day.
Reflection group: Employees in this group spent the last 15 minutes of certain training days reflecting on and writing about the lessons they had learned.
Sharing group: Employees in this group did the same writing and reflecting as the reflection group but also spent five minutes discussing their insights with a fellow trainee.
Over the course of one month, workers in the reflection and sharing groups performed significantly better than those in the control group. On average, the reflection group outperformed the control group on the final training test by 22.8%, and the sharing group performed 25% better than the control group, despite the fact that both had spent less time working.
So, what’s the point? Teaching people more concepts and skills is probably less effective than inviting them to reflect on and then discuss their reflections.
Our courses are designed to allow for such reflection. At the end of each lesson in Getting Things Done®, for example, learners are invited to reflect on what they’ve learned and record their insights.
In both Crucial Conversations® courses, learners record how they intend to apply what they’ve learned, and then they share their plans with a learning partner. In fact, reflection and sharing play an important role in all our courses. But where you don’t see those opportunities built in, consider quick ways to give these opportunities.
I’d love to hear how you incorporate reflection and discussion when you facilitate. How do you encourage learners to reflect, and how do you think this impacts results? Please share in the comments section below.