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Self reflection

The forgotten art of self-reflection

I think everyone will agree that the reason we all go to work every day and help drive our businesses forward is because we want to be number one.

We want to be the number one sales person, we want to be number one in our market, we want to be the number one in production. Everyone likes to be number one! But there can only ever be one top dog.

So when the boss tells everyone they want to improve performance, what do we usually reach for…




…. That’s right. A blank space, a blank page, a blank flip chart. We strive to come up with something completely new and improved to help us get to that number one spot. Sometimes we even go the extra mile and hire a nice hotel conference room to sit in while we think, or maybe even take the team away to a retreat.

But let me ask you this: is your business good at what it does? I’m going to hazard a guess that the answer is yes. Of course you are. So why do you need to come up with something completely new? Why reinvent the wheel? If you’re a business who is already good at what it does, how about taking what you do and just doing it better?

This may sound obvious, however simple self-reflection is something many businesses are poor at. Why so? The only time we ever truly reflect on what we’ve done is when we carry out investigations into serious incidents.

Let’s face it, nobody really wants to hear the findings of an investigation into a serious incident because it usually identifies a number of things we’ve done wrong. And if there’s anything we like less than criticism, it’s having to change, which is another likely outcome of an investigation.

So what do we do? We make it sound less serious, we brush it aside as minor, and we carry on doing what we were doing.

I think it’s time for a different approach. As I mentioned, you’re already really good at what you do. But we all know that nobody’s perfect. So instead of only reflecting when something goes seriously wrong, how about we look at the more minor issues we encounter?

In industry, these minor issues are called ‘near misses’ and they are generally investigated infrequently or poorly.

People often ask me on training courses “How do I investigate more serious incidents?” My answer is this: The same way you investigate a near miss. Because your serious incident is just three near misses that happened simultaneously.

Near misses are by far our best opportunities for improvement. They should be regarded as freebies; because nobody was hurt, the findings are usually less damning than a serious incident and the improvements are easier to implement.

Remember, you’re already really good at what you do. But we all make minor errors from time to time. Use them as your best opportunity to self-reflect, make changes, prevent major incidents and be even better at what you already do well.

If you want to improve your investigation skills and learn from ex-senior law enforcement professionals, Matrix Risk Control offers a number of investigation courses to enhance your performance.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Author: John Richardson

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