On board merchant ships we carry out our monthly trainings and drills. Every training and drill consist of three parts : Planning, Execution and Debriefing. Of all these three steps the most important step to me is always the debriefing part. Years back these trainings/drills consisted of only first two steps. i.e. Planning – When and where? and then the execution part. Following these two steps and despite these trainings/drills were carried out monthly, we did not see any much improvement in crew performace.
We say practise makes a man perfect but this was clearly not the case with us. Only when the third part of debriefing/reflection was added, the results of imporvement started to show. Clearly this reflection part, after every taining/drill helped us to find our shortcomings, and once we were aware of them, we worked on it and improved our performance during the next session.
Likewise, whenever a crew joins our vessel, a sign on talk is carried out in which the crew and the head of the department lays down the objectives. Crew is briefed about what he is accountable for and why his role is important. For the head of the department to align, drive and develop the crew towards crew goal and their organisational goal, on completing mid term contract again a mid term appraisal is performed to reflect and follow up on crew progress and performance. Then on completing his contract comes the final appraisal, in which his overall performance and areas of improvemnt is reflected.
Many times, a crew don’t like this process because it leads to vulnerability and defensiveness. As Mark Twain said, “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper”. Having their weaknesses known, it requires a change in mindset and requires action plan to grow, which indeed is not everybody’s cup of tea.
Nonetheless a moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life experience. This reflection gives the crew a chance to pause for a while and create meaning of what he is doing. For self growth this meaning is important because only this will help him to come up with effective future actions.
The way to cook a rabbit is first to catch a rabbit. Same way we have to be awake and reflect on our problems as it is. Only then can we act on it. In his high school days Michael Jordan was not an skilled basketball player. Only when he started to reflect and started working on his mistakes, he became one of the best basketball player the world has seen. Don’t allow your ego not to see the obvious. Only when we are aware of our mistakes can we improve and be a world class in what ever we do. Peter Drucker said it well. “Follow effective action with quite reflection. From the quite reflection will come even more effective action.”