definition and interest in business

definition and interest in business


The debriefing is not an extra time-consuming meeting imposed on a recalcitrant team. On the contrary, most employees appreciate the exercise and the team leader draws useful lessons from it to improve collective performance. In less than an hour, participants are invited to share their “on-the-spot” feedback, and to make a constructive criticism of the events that took place.

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The debriefing is thus conducted in such a way as to promote individual progress. It is also on this occasion that the organizational methods and routines are possibly called into question, in order to evolve. At the company level, the debriefing then makes it possible to take advantage of learning by doing.

What is a debriefing for?

Debriefing, widely democratized in companies, is a well-documented practice in the civil aeronautics, defense and hospital medicine professions. Professionals in these sectors develop and apply standardized procedures referred to as “experience feedback”, or “REX”. The objective is as follows: to carry out a systematic examination of the errors made by the members of the team, in order to continuously improve operational performance. Debriefing is also a widespread practice in the fields of entertainment and sport. Example: the coach and the athletes take stock immediately after the match, by meeting in the locker room and then analyzing the video of the match.

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In business, the debriefing pursues the same laudable objectives:

  • Identify areas for improvement. The team leader draws up a report, and each employee is encouraged to express their feelings. This discussion allows issues to emerge and solutions to be proposed. The debriefing thus serves individual and collective interests: the self-analysis carried out by the employee allows him to progress, the team leader makes strategic decisions, and the performance of the team increases. Example: the debriefing highlights a lack of communication within the team; employees are made aware of this pitfall, and favorably adopt the new collaborative tool that the manager decides to put in place so as not to repeat past errors.
  • Strengthen team spirit. Indirectly, the debriefing also serves to unite the group. The sharing of experiences, carried out in an atmosphere of benevolence, creates de facto closeness and trust between the members of the team. Everyone has speaking time, during which they are listened to attentively. The employee thus feels valued, and the links are strengthened because the exchange of points of view takes place in a context of mutual respect. By bringing the team together, moreover, the manager injects a beneficial dynamic into group work.

The debriefing is productive provided that errors are pointed out without naming the culprits. It is not a question of looking for who is responsible for the failure, but of objectively examining the results to learn from mistakes and avoid repeating them. The debriefing is also beneficial for congratulating the success of a project, and recording the factors of this success in order to sustain an effective work process.

How to debrief?

The manager or an employee can initiate the debriefing. The meeting must in any case be timely, so as not to risk an excess of time-consuming meetings. In the context of a large, long-term project, for example, a strategic step can be debriefed if it produces disappointing intermediate results; the debriefing then makes it possible to analyze the errors without delay, to rectify the actions to come.

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Once the appropriateness of the debriefing has been assessed, it is important to respect good practices.

Do the “on the spot” debriefing

Carrying out a debriefing requires collecting the impressions of employees on the progress of the mission. The meeting then gains in efficiency by being organized in a short time frame. Thereby :

  • Employees have a perfect memory of the facts and their feelings, positive and negative.
  • The debriefing carried out immediately is an integral part of the mission. In this context, employees are less likely to self-censor.
  • If necessary, resentment is quickly evacuated.

Doing the debriefing in a short time also allows methods and processes to be corrected without wasting time.

Choose an informal place

It is not uncommon to see athletes doing a debriefing in the locker room of the stadium, or even in a bar. The company can draw inspiration from this practice, and organize the meeting in an informal place, either a rest room or the relaxation area of ​​the premises, or outdoors. These places indeed promote conviviality. In fact, participants are encouraged to exchange more freely, communication becomes more fluid. Choosing a meeting place outside the office also allows the notion of hierarchy to be temporarily erased: the risk of censorship is reduced, speaking is all the more constructive.

In any case, it is recommended to organize the debriefing face-to-face.

Set the duration of the meeting

Debriefing is effective when participants are responsive. By framing it over time, the team leader energizes the meeting, which gains in productivity. The duration is fixed according to the scope of the mission and its challenges. Sometimes fifteen to thirty minutes are enough to draw useful conclusions from the results obtained.

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Conduct the meeting methodically

Leading the debriefing is the role of the manager, who proceeds in stages:

  1. Introduction: the manager recalls the objective of the debriefing, indicates the duration of the meeting, briefly explains its progress and evokes its concrete purpose. This may involve, for example, deciding whether to increase human resources or train employees, in view of the insufficient results of the past mission.
  2. Feedback: each employee is invited to share their feedback, share their difficulties and their feelings, and suggest corrective actions. In the example: an employee can propose to invest in automation software as an alternative to recruitment and training, supporting arguments.
  3. Analysis: the debriefing facilitator summarizes the exchanges, and summarizes the proposals of each participant.
  4. Conclusion: ideally, the debriefing leads to strategic decision-making regarding future common working bases. However, the decision-making can be postponed, the time for the manager to mature the project or to consult his hierarchy. When the assessment is positive, and in the absence of pitfalls, the debriefing does not necessarily justify taking a decision, but deserves to take place to anchor in the collective mind the good working methods and the strengths of the ‘crew.

The usefulness of the debriefing depends in part on the company’s ability to change its routines. The review meeting is not oriented in such a way as to incriminate people, the manager assumes that the employee is not at stake: it is the method or the organization that deserves to be reviewed.

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