The purpose of reflecting as a team 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 into subsequent experiences. Team members generally sit in a circle, reflecting first as individuals, sharing those reflections with the group, then discussing the insights and potential actions to take out of the session. Use this session one or more times throughout a project or program.
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
- Pens (optional for participants)
- Notebook (optional for participants)
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.
There are as many ways to run a reflection session as there are facilitators. Don’t feel bound by the steps above, and feel free to experiment with other ways of running the session. What is key to the session is your intent. Bear in mind some facilitative practices: Support the group to meet its own purpose, not yours. Meet the group members where they are emotional. 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 reactions and feelings as they arise, and use them in the session where appropriate.
If it is the first 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”) , they should avoid generalizations like “everybody” and “some people”, and they should practice active listening when others are speaking.
You can also introduce the models and theories that underpin team reflection: learning-by-doing and reflective practice. Draw these 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 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 10 minutes. Put some gentle 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.
Bring the full group back to the circle. Invite team members to share their reflections one-by-one, either going around the circle or randomly. Encourage them to go deeper into thoughts and feelings, not just read out what they have in their notebooks.
The facilitator’s role here is to support the sense of trust and openness. Encourage participants to share from the individual “I” voice, 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. Make sure they have a short break before the next activity.
The Reflective Practitioner, Donald A. Schön, 1983 Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods, Graham Gibbs, 2001 The Do’s and Don’ts of I-Messages, Thomas Gordon, Gordon Training, 2012 The Art of Facilitation: The Essentials for Leading Great Meetings and Creating Group Synergy, Dale Hunter, 2009 T-groups, Wikipedia, N.D.
Source: Hyper Island toolbox
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