A year in review: Why reflection is important for company growth and team performance
For most organisations, end-of-year (EOY) is a time when work either slows down in preparation for the holidays or ramps up for the seasonal peak. So whether things are winding down in the office or it’s a mad dash to Christmas, it’s important to reflect on the year as a whole. This simple exercise can generate valuable insights that lead to increased employee productivity and better business performance in the new year.
Reflection in the workplace
For decades we’ve been taught that the workplace is for working and nothing more. While that strict code has softened somewhat in recent years, there’s still general anxiety for employees – as well as employers – that they must always been seen to be ‘busy’ when at the office.
However, research shows that taking the time to reflect on your work can actually improve job performance across the board.
You don’t have to spend an hour twiddling your thumbs and staring out the window – just 10 to 15 minutes of reflection a few times each week is enough. And the benefits are exponential if you make a habit out of it.
How can it shape team performance?
Reflection shouldn’t only be about the individual. As a leader in your workplace, your team looks to you to constantly evolve and improve business processes.
A study found that structured reflection can reveal the best circumstances under which a team thrives. This can improve everything from turning long staff meetings into ideas-generating events, to gamifying the workplace so employees have short and long-term goals.
By reflecting on not just yourself but the team as a whole, you can pinpoint where improvements must be made and pivot your strategies to generate the best possible outcomes.
How can it lead to new business?
When you find a few minutes for reflection, consider whether the past year’s activities were driven by passion. After all, the reason you lead a team is because you are passionate about what your company does. This type of reflection can shine a spotlight on any instances where you were disheartened or not 100% invested in a task. From there, you can take steps to change your approach to similar tasks, or plug any gaps with new opportunities.
Similarly, it’s important to reflect on how your customers saw their interactions with you. Customers are the lifeblood of any business – big or small – so end-of-year is the perfect time to show your appreciation and ask for feedback. Their answers, and the time you spend pondering them, can spark new ideas for the year ahead.
The most important questions to ask
Beyond pleasing your customers and focusing on your passions in the workplace, it’s crucial that you reflect on how your employees performed. Could your team have benefited from a more structured goal-setting and recognition program? What activities can you integrate over the next year so they get the most out of their jobs? Start by asking:
- Where did we succeed? Take pride in where you and your team really stuck the landing on projects or customer service.
- Where did we fall short? Reflecting on failure isn’t a negative exercise – it’s an opportunity to do better next time.
- Who needs to be acknowledged? Did you only celebrate the actions of the loudest performers? What about the worker bees who put in serious legwork behind the scenes?
- In which areas did we grow? And how can you leverage that growth for even greater returns next year?
- What are our goals for the coming year? Sit down with your team to brainstorm ideas and set achievable company targets for the upcoming 12 months.
The results are in: Self-reflection improves business
Whether it’s a manager considering how their team could improve, or an employee self-reflecting on their day, there’s no question that reflection is a vital part of growth.
A study on productivity in call centres found that those “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”.
You might be the best at what you do and provide the greatest offering to your customers, but without a mechanism for reflection you will never truly grow.
Great leadership begins with self-awareness, but self-reflection leads to continued success.
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