What is debriefing?

Derived from briefing before an event, debriefing means the follow-up and joint analysis of an event, an important situation or a project. It is a joint debriefing of employees and supervisors. It’s also a crucial part of psychological research.

Debriefings can be found everywhere. There is a reason why a debrief is a crucial part of scientific research. But also after a soccer match – when the coach and players review the game, a debrief is a powerful tool.

coach debriefing a team

Debriefing means learning…

Debriefing is a workshop method that serves to collect, structure and secure project experiences. With the help of a debriefing, all experiences, whether positive or negative, can be classified and reflected. The project participants share their experiences, insights and lessons learned in the course of a project – therefore, a debriefing is also ideally suited as a self-evaluation of a project team. While there is no perfect time to debrief, it’s recommended to do it while experienced are still fresh.

Procedure of a debriefing

Basically, in a debriefing, you ask yourself three questions that are just about facts without evaluating them:

  • What happened? (both negative and positive)
  • Why did it happen?
  • What would you do differently next time?

The first step should be to send out a debriefing questionnaire on the course of the project – ideally a few days before the debriefing. The advantage of this method: all project participants are encouraged to reflect on the course of the project.

The debriefing process in detail:

  1. Since a debriefing takes place only after a project has been completed, the first priority is to create a positive working atmosphere so that those involved can find their way back into work mode.
  2. The next step is to take a look at the course of the entire project. In the case of more complex projects that have dragged on over a longer period of time, various moderation methods can be used to remind the project participants of the most important stages of the project.
  3. With the help of different moderation methods, the individual project experiences are collected, documented and evaluated.
  4. With the help of a root cause analysis, it should be determined why some things may not have gone so well. In this step, initial ideas for improvement can also be introduced.
  5. First measures should be derived from the preceding analysis so that the team can avoid errors in the future (see “error culture“) and complete processes successfully.
  6. In conclusion, project participants should be shown appreciation for their completed project and their willingness to follow up.

Advantages of a debriefing

  • Project transparency
  • Collective learning based on facts
  • Using accumulated experience for future projects – “learning from experience”
  • Prevention of repeated mistakes – “learning from mistakes”.
  • Debriefing promotes communication in the team
  • Debriefing promotes team performance and quality.
  • Awareness of more complex tasks is encouraged, as well as recognition of the project as a whole.

Debrief at teambuildings

A post-processing of the experience makes a team building event an effective measure of personnel development. Individual results of such an event are used with the help of debriefing. The events are discussed and evaluated, and what was learned is implemented. Together, strategies are developed for productive, sustainable cooperation at the company level.

VIDEO: Debriefing in leadship training