Monday, September 7, 2015

Reflections Impact Performance - Tip #69

As an experienced trainer, I have found the immense importance of reflection on my own learning and that of my learners. As I mentioned in the previous tip, reflection deepens one's own learning.  If you want to really learn something, you need to reflect on it. The reason behind this is that reflection helps drill information down and connects it to previous knowledge.
However, the benefits of reflection don't stop there. A growing number of studies actually linked reflection to better performance. As a result, organizations are beginning to appreciate the advantages it offers. Google, for instance, is redefining the idea of the typical office setup to allow for better reflection by its workforce.

In this tip, I will talk about the relationship between reflection and performance. The correlation between the two is real and the results are measurable.

Measurable Effects of Reflection on Performance

Studies consistently affirm the positive effects of reflection on organizational performance. According to Di Stefano and associates, "Results of mediation analyses further show that the improvement in performance observed when individuals are learning by thinking is explained by increased self-efficacy generated by reflection."  The authors conducted a field experiment in a BPO (business process outsourcing) company in India and they found out that "individuals perform significantly better on subsequent tasks when they think about what they learned from the task they completed." The lesson here is simple: learners are more productive when they are allowed to intentionally reflect on what they have learned from previous experience.

In a different study conducted among midwifery students, Embo,, found a "significant relationship between 'reflection ability' and 'clinical performance' scores in clinical practice" and suggested that, "(1) reflection ability is linked to clinical performance; (2) that written reflections are an important, but not the sole way to assess professional competence and that (3) reflection is a contributor to clinical performance improvement."They concluded that reflection is an important component in professional competence.

Reflection as a Strategy to Improve Performance in an Organization

If reflection helps drill down knowledge and skills and plays a key role in improving performance, then organizations should embrace this as a strategy. Micro-ideas are easier to reflect upon due primarily to its small size. This makes it ideal in transferring skill and knowledge in the organization.

For organizations, production is dependent on performance. Even with the advent of technology, much of production is still dependent on the performance of personnel and their understanding of the tools at their disposal. Tools and content are only as powerful as the workers' capacity to think through how to apply and leverage them. Case solving abilities or troubleshooting skills is better with workers who are given time to reflect on newly acquired skills.


Frederik Anseel, Filip Lievens, and Eveline Schollaert. Reflection as a Strategy to Enhance Task Performance after Feedback. Ghent University

Di Stefano, G., Gino, F., Pisano, G., & Staats, B. (2014). Learning by  Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance. Harvard Business SchoolWorking Paper, 1-48

Maggie Coats: Reflection revisited: can it really enhance practice? Cambridge 20-23 September 2005


Embo M, Driessen E, Valcke M, van der Vleuten CP. Relationship between reflection ability and clinical performance: a cross-sectional and retrospective-longitudinal correlational cohort study in midwifery. PubMed

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

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