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Equip your team with tools to become more self-reliant and productive

Today’s organizations increasingly rely on teams to accomplish important business goals. Sales teams , project teams , patent care teams , leadership teams , retail teams , product teams , service teams , and more teams are essential for achieving results .When an organization needs to make important changes , a team is often formed to look at the issues , generate options and plan for and implement new approaches . Innovation , strategic change , digital disruption and fast moving markets all benefit from the diverse knowledge , perspectives and skill sets that teams can offer.

Despite the importance of team work, many teams are not operating in a way that brings out their best. According to research conducted by HCI 92% of employees surveyed saw teams as important for organizational success, while only 23% believed that their teams to be effective. Poor communication and lack of clearly defined roles and responsibilities were noted as top challenges for teams. Like people teams can form patterns and habits. They develop certain ways of doing things and may not take time to question their approach. People on the team may just tolerate or live with the status quo.

If teams are crucial for organizational success, what can HR professionals do to help their organizations to create the conditions and support the teams to thrive?

Research indicates that teams that regularly conduct debriefs outperform those that don’t by 20 to 25 %. Debriefs are a quick and powerful way for teams to enhance their performance. Providing team members with skills and tools to conduct effective debriefs can lead to improved results and increased engagement. Since many employees are on multiple teams, debriefing skills gained with one team can benefit other teams as well.

WHAT IS A DEBRIEF?

During a debrief team members discuss the teams recent experiences and explore where they can make improvements. Structured debriefs produce better results and allow team members to prepare for involvement in the discussion. To get the most out of a 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 DEBRIEFS?

When getting started it may be helpful for someone outside the team to felicitate 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 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, open ended 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 be easily 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 accountability.

  • 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 works 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 and how?

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 planning.

“Teams that regularly conduct debriefs outperform those that don’t by 20 to 25 %. Debriefs are a quick and powerful way for teams to enhance their performance. “

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