Take time to reflect on your performance

Jamie Morley discusses the importance of pausing to reflect on the performance of yourself and your practice.

Jamie Morley discusses the importance of pausing to reflect on the performance of yourself and your practice

It is important to take time to reflect on how you and your practice are doing.

It is as the word suggests, holding up a mirror to take a look at yourself, your performance and the performance of your practice.

If you do this then you are able to consider whether or not you are heading in the right direction. Both at an individual level and as an overall practice.

Taking time to reflect enables you to consider if you are making progress with the plan, to make adjustments where necessary or to change the plan entirely.

Progress is also a major motivator for people. Reflecting and looking at progress can show individuals what has been achieved so far. It inspires and engages people.

In such a fast moving world where everything is changing so fast, it is really vital to do this.

If you don’t, you can soon find that you have gone completely off track, you are not focusing on what is important and that you are not being the leader you want to be.

Psychological principles

There are also some psychological principles around why reflection is important. In general, psychologists refer to system one and system two of the brain.

System 1 System 2
Fast Slow
Effortless Effortful
Unconscious Self aware
Automatic Reflective
Reptilian Human
Uncontrolled Controlled
Associated Deductive
Skilled Rule following

In his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman describes these two different parts of the brain and how they interact with each other in great detail, affecting how we make decisions. Both systems are crucial.

It is important that we are able to make quick decisions almost automatically and it is also crucial that we can step back and review in order to make more considered decisions without the bias of system one.

With our lives being so hectic and running a practice being so busy, it is easy to say, ‘I don’t have time to do this.’ But you end up making decisions based too much on system one.

By not doing this you are running a real risk of making poor decisions, carrying on down the wrong path and missing an opportunity to motivate yourself and your people.

I love the phrase ‘fast and slow’ because I think it can be expanded to… take some time to slow down and reflect in order to move ahead with confidence and speed.

If you know you have taken the time to reflect, then you can make a decision. Make the decision putting everything into what you have decided to do without worrying unnecessarily about the result.

You know that you will reflect on this at a later time and adjust again appropriately if necessary. It can free you up to make decisions. Put everything into the choice you make and know that you will review this again.

How often should you reflect?

The question then is how often do I need to do this?

This creates a kind of cadence to the business and to you as an individual. It feeds into your overall planning and running of the practice.

It makes sense that every year you take a full step back to look at the overall strategies for the business. Do a full review of these strategies and challenge if they remain relevant.

How have you performed for the year in executing these strategies? What has worked? Hasn’t worked? What progress have we made? And what do we need to change?

Every three months you can do a quarterly review that isn’t as detailed but ensures you are heading in the right direction. It can also be a great time to give a single point of focus for the upcoming three months for everybody, irrespective of their role, to know that this is the number one priority for the practice.

A monthly review for the overall business during the year enables you to see the progress against the plan.

It is slightly different in nature in that you are more making sure that progress is being made in line with the agreed plan. In addition, you are keeping a broader view to ensure that plan remains the right plan. You know what is going on immediately around you but you are also able to have a vision of the broader environment and adjust appropriately.

You can also break this down further to a weekly and daily basis. As a result, you will take less time as you break it down further.

So, you take 30 minutes to an hour to review the previous week and look forward to the following week, giving you clear focus for the week ahead.

You can then take five to 10 minutes each day to reflect on the day and look forward to the following day.

Are you living your values?

Many practices do a daily huddle to look at what is on the cards for the day ahead. All the time this also enables you to check in and ensure that everything you or your team are doing are focused on the strategies you have agreed and not going off in different directions.

Alongside this, it is extremely important to reflect on your own behaviours as a leader. This is an opportunity in particular to see whether or not you are living your values.

Are you living your values and being the person you want to be?

When you are taking this time to reflect it can also be helpful to imagine that you are taking a helicopter view of the situation. Imagine you are taking a step away and looking at the situation, including yourself, as if you are in a helicopter.

This enables you to notice more. As well as this, it especially allows you to notice your own behaviours and actions in the situation. What can you do to make a difference?

It really gives you a different perspective.

An outside coach can also give you a different view, helping you to fully step out of the day to day and to provide you with real clarity as to how to move forward.

Take time to reflect so you can learn and evolve both as an individual and as a practice.

Jamie Morley is the author of Lead Your Dental Practice available at bit.ly/leadyourdentalpracticeamazon.

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