Anthony 'AB' Bourke, Renowned Figher Pilot Leadership Speaker, Will Engage Your Team, Challenge Their Thinking, and Teach Them How To Perform at Mach 2.
Motivational Speaker on Teamwork: Debrief in Action
Teamwork requires not only a commitment to high performance, but for high performing teams, a commitment to continual improvement. A properly executed “debrief” can drive improvements following any significant team activity. The purpose of a debrief is for the team to share and discuss learnings, with an eye towards improving performance in future missions. The debrief is not about finger-pointing – the team has to accept that, just as no fighter pilot has ever flown the perfect mission, no business team has ever executed 100% flawlessly. A debrief, properly executed, can accelerate the learning process and move the team to higher levels of performance and teamwork, and can ensure that leadership receives the feedback they require to improve future mission plans.
First, the team reconvenes, with all team members involved. For instance, a sales team might reconvene to review after an important pitch meeting. Sales management, the outside sales people, inside sales people, and other supporting personnel on the team may all have a different interpretation of different aspects of the event (the classic “blind men and the elephant” situation). Whatever the perspectives, it’s important to elicit all of them.
Reset the Tone
The key is for team members to understand that they are in a safe environment where they can share honest feedback about their experience. The leader must begin by resetting the tone and make it clear that this meeting is not about assigning blame, but rather to learn in an open environment so the team can improve its performance and teamwork in future endeavors. Team members will appreciate a firm yet fair and open tone being set for the meeting in this way.
The leader should review the objectives for the debrief – ideally even writing them down, so a clear and minimal scope for the meeting can be obtained, and stuck to. In the context of a review of a sales pitch, for instance, objectives might be along the lines of:
- Assess what areas of our pitch were weak
- Assess any threats, or opportunities to excel, that came up in the pitch
- Discuss how we might have better organized the elements of our pitch
By having a limited scope defined up front, this makes it easy to keep the Debrief meeting on track. An open environment need not be an invitation to ramble; having written objectives, and sticking to them will keep this to a minimum. It’s also a good idea to assign a timekeeper, to ensure that the meeting will keep to its 15, 20, or 30 minute limit.
Now that the tone has been set, and objectives have been outlined, feedback can begin. By establishing a safe environment first, we can elicit frank (and helpful) feedback from team members, so we can all benefit from both mistakes experienced and best practices that worked. The learning process can be accelerated as team members ponder the question “what made us successful?”
When the timekeeper flags that ten minutes are remaining, the leader should recap the learnings that have emerged during the debrief. This helps ensure that all of the team members are aligned, and prepared to execute at an even higher level of performance and teamwork during the next mission, armed with the learnings from this one. The leader should adopt a positive tone, and praise the team for areas that were well-handled. The adage “praise in public and condemn in private”, of course, holds here. Negative feedback is better delivered directly to an individual in a one-on-one fashion rather than in front of the entire team.
Just like fighter pilots, business teams can incorporate the cycle of briefing, mission, and debriefing into their routines and accelerate their learning process, improve performance, and create more delighted customers. Mach2 Consulting can help your team learn about, embrace, and implement these concepts, so your business can benefit from “The Feedback Loop” and continuously improve performance.