High performance: peform-debrief-perform-debrief

Posted on February 27, 2012

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Debriefing is the concept behind safety huddles, shift handoff, post code review, end of shifts and post-never-event reviews.
Debriefing is an intentional reflection of what went well and opportunites for improvement. Its main purpose is to build shared mental models among team members (building common understandings) and creating agreements for future success (an action plan for “next time”)

The use of debriefings has been shown to make teams 30% more effective and debriefings lead by leaders trained in debriefing has shown 40% improved performance (Tannebaum, 2010).
In these studies, no technical training was conducted!!! The improvements were from debriefing only. This is because debriefing allows team to self-correct, facilitates shared mental models, and promotes information sharing.
Six tips for leaders facilitating debriefings:
1. the leader partcipates rather than directs and draws out team thoughts before relaying their own observations
2. address teamwork issues not just technical problems
3. reflect back but do not end the session without making a clear action plan for future events
4. a leader can encourage the team to speak by admitting one’s own corrective action “one thing I could have done differently was…”
5. utilize a common structure for all your debriefings (a sample is shown here)
6. cost is low but it takes time to have debriefings become habitual

Debriefings build resilience!!! Where there is reflection on a situation and an action plan for the future, teams can tolerate bumps in the road or unpredictable conditions. Debriefings allow teams to continually recalibrate their strategies and redefine success.

WARNING: what can destroy team performance?
Poor leadership and breech of trust