People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 49

during a team debrief. An example of a simple framework for
conducting a quick debrief is shown in Table 2.
5b) Telling, not discussing. We've seen this pitfall too many
times. A leader begins the session by telling his team what
he believes the team has done effectively and the mistakes
the team made prior to soliciting the team's perceptions. He
doesn't engage the team in diagnosing team effectiveness and
developing action plans. When a leader simply tells his or her
team their conclusions and what "needs to be done," team
members are less likely to "own" and commit to those action
plans-they are also less likely to share any perceptions that
differ from what the leader said.
Research has shown that learners who are guided toward
self-discovery have better developmental experiences than
those who are simply given answers.9 Ironically, the greater the
expertise of the person leading the debrief, the more prone
they may be to "talking at" the team. If you are facilitating a
debrief, begin by asking questions, not giving answers. If you
discover you have a different point of view, weigh in after the
team has first had the chance to share their perspective.
5c) Improper or inadequate focus. We have seen teams
spend 90 percent of an unstructured debrief talking about
unimportant, "safe," or un-actionable topics. Then, in the last
few minutes, the important issues start to surface and the team
says something like, "we don't have time to discuss that today,
maybe next time." Participating in this type of debrief can be
very frustrating, which discourages team members from wanting
to debrief in the future. Be sure that your debrief has "enough"
structure and if the team is starting to spend too much time on
something trivial or "non-negotiable," help them move forward
by asking a question about a meaningful team issue.
5d) Good look back, but no definitive look forward. Some
teams engage in an excellent discussion about the past,
reflecting on a recent experience. But the debrief didn't help
them adapt, because they never transitioned from looking
backward to looking forward. While discussing past events can
be interesting, at some point it is important to call the question: "should we be doing anything different going forward?"
If so, let's be clear about what, who, when, and how. If not,
that's okay, and it's probably time to explore a different issue.
5e) Too evaluative or threatening. Some leaders inadvertently
make their debriefing sessions feel more like a performance
review (or court hearing) than a chance to get smarter and
make quick, informal adjustments. If I perceive a debrief as a
time when I'll be judged and evaluated, I'm more likely to be
defensive, make excuses, and explain away problems (or avoid
talking about them). I'm also less likely to share my perceptions
and acknowledge concerns. Research has shown that perceived
purpose (judgmental versus developmental) has a significant
impact on the accuracy and acceptance of feedback.10
So be sure the tone of your debriefs are primarily developmental in intent (let's learn some stuff and make a few
adjustments) rather than judgmental or evaluative (let's find
out who is to blame for our problems).

Best Practice 6: Try to conduct the debrief close in time
to the "action," if possible. Debriefs ask participants to recall
and discuss their team's experiences. Naturally, the more
time that transpires, the less people can actually recall about
the experience. They may remember how they felt, or their
"interpretation" of what happened, but they are less likely to
recall exactly what happened as time goes by. A debrief relies
on accurate observations and feedback, so as a general rule
of thumb, it is best not to wait too long to debrief a particular
event, decision, or situation. Ideally, for most management
and project teams, we'd encourage you to set up a regularly
scheduled opportunity to debrief (perhaps twice per month).
If there's nothing to discuss you can cancel it, but you'll likely
find that there is often something worth debriefing.
Best Practice 7: Record conclusions and agreements
reached to be able to "close the loop" after the debrief. When
the team reaches conclusions and agrees to the adjustments
they want to make, those should be captured during the debrief and circulated to the team shortly thereafter. This serves
several purposes. First, it gives everyone on the team one last
chance to confirm that they concur or to note where they
had a different understanding about the agreements. In that
sense, it eliminates potential ambiguity. Second, it increases a
sense of accountability among team members, as we're more
likely to do something if we know it will be tracked. Third,
it provides a tangible check point that the team can use to
close the loop during their next debrief. For example, at the
end of a debrief a team might agree that whoever presents
to the team will state whether they are simply updating the
team, seeking their input, or looking for the team to make a
decision. During the next debrief session, they can ask, "have
we been doing a good job of stating our expectations?" If yes,
great; we should feel good about the progress. If not, do we
want to keep that agreement and if so, how can we be better
about it going forward?
Best Practice 8: If appropriate, consider trying technology
to assist with your debriefs. To be clear, you can conduct a
debrief without any technology. But there have been some
interesting developments that you should be aware of that
might enhance your debriefs in certain circumstances.
When used correctly, multimedia aids can provide a meaningful improvement on debrief effectiveness. For example,
one web-based tool that has been used at NASA, with medical
teams, and in other corporate settings is called DebriefNow. (In
full disclosure, this is a tool offered by one author's company.)
DebriefNow was designed to provide structure and guidance
for a team leader or facilitator, helping them avoid a few of the
common pitfalls (e.g., ensuring the team spends its time on
higher priority teamwork issues). Team members anonymously
answer a few questions about the team's recent experiences, and
based on the team's responses, the tool produces a customized
discussion guide with prioritized questions for guiding the debrief. Research has shown that a structured approach like this is
more effective than simply asking "what went well, what did not
go well, and what should we do differently?"11
Teams do not need DebriefNow to conduct a debrief, but
VOLUME 41 | ISSUE 2 | SPRING 2018

49



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2

From the Executive Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
The Rise of Digital Team Building
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Executive Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 5
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Guest Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 7
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 9
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 10
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 11
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 12
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 13
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 14
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 15
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 17
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 18
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 19
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 20
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 21
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 23
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 24
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 25
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 26
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 27
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 28
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 29
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 31
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 32
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 33
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 34
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 35
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 37
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 38
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 39
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 40
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 41
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 43
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 44
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 45
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 47
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 48
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 49
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 50
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 51
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - The Rise of Digital Team Building
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 53
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 54
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 55
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 57
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 58
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 59
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 60
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 61
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - In First Person
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 63
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 64
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 65
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 67
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 68
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 69
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 71
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 73
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 74
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/HRPS/hrps_41_3_2018
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http://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/HRPS/hrps_39_1_2016
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