reflecting on practices for peak performance

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reflecting on practices for peak performance
Amina Chughtai, Manager, Pakistan

reflecting on our regular performance, irresepective of the positions we hold or tasks we do leads to personal as well as organisational development and enhances performance

Standing in front of a group of professional adults some years ago to deliver well-constructed thoughts and ideas, I realized for a moment that I am probably an alien from the land of Wiz trying to say something which the audience could not decipher. It had taken time, energy and scores of sleepless nights loaded with untiring and limitless work for me to prepare for such a training course to be conducted. I faced thirty-five odd ladies and gentlemen whose salt and pepper hair impressed upon me that they were somewhere close to my father’s age. Training such experienced and well educated professionals was a task assigned to me and taken up as a challenge for the simple reason – ‘I want to create a difference’. After delivering for about ten minutes in immaculate and well articulated English I realized that I could see the thirty-five pairs of eyes glued to me intently yet majority of the faces bore little anxiety and strange expressions. I had to stop to ask if there were any questions. Silence! I asked again. Silence again! From one corner of the room came a meek voice, “Madam aap bohat achi English bolti hain lekin agar aap kuch alfaz Urdu k bhi bol lain to hamain zyada achi tarha samaj aa jaye gi”. (meaning: Madam you speak very good English, but if you use few words of Urdu in your talk, then it will be easier for us to understand ) This was indeed a strong injection for me but I thanked him that at least he had shared his genuine concern on behalf of the whole group. I had to change the strategy and be the human of this mother earth talking to humans. I had to find out the mistake and this could only be done if I looked back to see what was wrong. I realized language barrier was the major issue and although I could articulate English well I had to code switch, because if I am not delivering as per the need of the audience then I am doomed to fail. Hence reflective observation became my first and foremost tool for success and this led me slowly to become a reflective practitioner to enhance my performance as a trainer, mentor and guide. Reflective practice in modern times can be the only strong tool for employees to exhibit peak performance enabling companies to grow but this path is not easy. It requires courage to look at our shadow as well as our strengths, a willingness to question habitual assumptions, and the discipline to systematically review our practices and underlying beliefs. To become a reflective practitioner we need to ask ourselves the following fundamental questions: 1. What do I do? 2. How do I do it? 3. What does this mean for both myself as a professional and those whom I serve? We can write reflective journals, video or audio tape our activities for reflective analysis, ask someone to give feedback on our performance, think aloud or undergo self evaluation process. Loads of ideas to do all these activities are available on the web and books to take guidance from. All growing organizations these days are extensively working on this model of reflective practice because unless and until we find out our mistakes we cannot bring required changes. We have to let our team players know and understand the value of reflective practice. There is a strong need to develop personal improvement plans for all employees as individuals and make them responsible for their performance. A big mistake that companies make during appraisals is that they grade employees for the performance that has been exhibited, but never have been guided upon for improvement. It is unethical and unprofessional to fire a worker for his lack of performance if the manager has not supported, guided and made him reflect on experiences for improvement throughout the year before doing appraisals. If we commit to becoming reflective practitioners, we can generate insight into what accounts for both our successes and our failures; identify the limits of our current practices and opportunities for new areas of growth; and experience renewed alignment of our work with what we most value. This is a sure way to peak performance!

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