How to do a Debrief

Someone asked me recently how I handle team debriefing. Here is how I answered their question. Debriefing to me is all about learning, growing, and working through the things God wants to me and the team to learn. Experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is the best teacher.

It is best that debriefing start as soon as a team comes together, with regular "check-in times" with each person by the team leader. A weekly "how are we doing?" time for the team is important. This hopefully allows feelings, struggles, conflicts, etc., to be addressed as they come up and not stuffed inside.

Here are some principles that are the foundation for debriefing:

1. Debriefing is a time for team members to internalize what God is doing in their hearts, work through problems and disappointments and conflicts, and prepare for the future. It's hard to prepare for the future, either the next day or a long way in the future, if we are carrying emotional baggage and unresolved pain from the past. From the outset it is important that there is a clear mission and values for the team. Expectations have to be discussed. It is helpful to put these things on paper to have a context for debriefing one's expectations and role in the team.

2. After a major event, team members need time to emotionally recharge and get perspective. They will approach a major team debrief much better if they have time to be alone and catch up on sleep, have time with the Lord, etc.

3. Personal conversations should take place with each team member on a regular basis, and if necessary, with those individuals who need to work through conflicts with each other.

4. Time should be taken on a regular basis to review the values and vision and of the team. These reviews should be inspirational and can be creative in nature. Personal goals and expectations naturally come under review during these times of reflection.

5.
Team debriefings give the team leader time to teach on how to do a debrief, personally and as a team.

6. The following four questions are one way to conduct a debrief, personally and as a team: