TEAMS THAT REGULARLY CONDUCT DEBRIEFS
OUTPERFORM THOSE THAT DON’T BY 20 TO 25 PER
CENT. DEBRIEFS ARE A QUICK AND POWERFUL WAY
FOR TEAMS TO ENHANCE THEIR PERFORMANCE.
debrief, it is helpful for a team to focus on specific questions that
will help them acknowledge what they are doing well, and discuss
ideas for improvement.
WHEN SHOULD A TEAM DEBRIEF?
The best timing for a debrief will depend on the work of the team.
For fast-paced work with high interdependence, a team may need
to debrief as frequently as once a week. For other teams, a monthly
or quarterly pattern makes more sense. Quick debriefs can also be
included at the end of each team meeting. After, Action Reviews
can be scheduled after achieving specific goals or milestones and at
the mid-point and end of projects.
WHO SHOULD FACILITATE THE DEBRIEF?
When getting started, it may be helpful for someone outside
the team to facilitate the debrief, however many teams can manage
the debrief process and conversation effectively on their own.
Providing guidelines and focus questions will help the team to
manage the process and get good results.
The facilitator needs to help the team create a climate for maximum
participation. Beginning the debrief with some clear ground
rules for participation will help set the tone for positive participation.
It is important that everyone has an opportunity to contribute
to the debrief discussion. The research shows that equal talk time
is a key characteristic of high-performing teams.
CREATING POWERFUL QUESTIONS
What types of questions work well for team debrief discussions?
As with many people issues, the best questions depend on team
context and purpose. Good questions are future-focused, openended
and clear. Questions should be structured to help the team
explore and discover what’s working and what they can do differently
that will help them get even better results.
SAMPLE DEBRIEF QUESTIONS
Any of these questions can easily be incorporated into a regular
team meeting. Each team member needs to be given the
opportunity to voice his or her perspective. Providing the questions
in advance can help encourage participation. Debrief
discussions should always end with clear commitments for action
items, next steps and related accountabilities.
■■ When have we been at our best as a team, and what
contributed to that?
■■ What are our top priorities for this week/month/quarter?
■■ What will success look like?
■■ What do we need to do more of?
■■ Which of our processes can we “tweak” for better results?
■■ What can we stop doing without compromising on results?
■■ What’s getting in our way? How can we address it?
■■ How can we make our team communication even better?
■■ How effective was this meeting? What did we do well? What
took us off track? What can we do to ensure our meeting time
is spent wisely?
■■ What has been our biggest accomplishment? What did we do
that helped us achieve it?
■■ Four questions that work well for After Action Reviews, which
typically focus on key incidents, milestones, initiatives or
projects include: What was expected to happen? What actually
occurred? What went well and why? What can be improved
Effective teamwork is crucial for organization success and innovation.
Research shows that team debriefs lead to improved
performance. HR professionals can support team effectiveness
by encouraging regular team debrief discussions and action
Carolynne Fletcher Wintrip is a learning and team effectiveness
specialist and founder of Luminus Learning Inc. Attend her session
at the HRPA Annual Conference, entitled “Powerful Questions to
Enhance Team Effectiveness,” on February 1 at 10:00 a.m.
58 ❚ SPECIAL CONFERENCE EDITION 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL