We value the act of ‘debriefing’ too lightly. It’s a calendar entry which is easily moved to make way for an urgent meeting, the next big thing – you get the drift! It’s talked about, referenced in the project plan however; I’m surprised at how little ‘debriefing’ occurs in life.
Debriefing is a facilitation skill involved in change – one which is useful for leaders, project managers, parents, partners, CEOs …. well, just about anyone. I’ve even heard my son’s 3rd grade teacher mention the ‘D’ word!
With a military history, debriefing allows people to have a voice, to share their account and it’s an opportunity to divulge information. It’s a morale booster and at the opposite end of the continuum it can be emotionally draining if grief is being debriefed.
Picking the right time to debrief is tricky – I lean towards closer to the event than later. If you’re focusing on the emotional component, it magnifies with time – possibly distorting the facts which if prompted initially, people will take notes along the way and be able to provide meaningful and useful data.
Another component of the skill is the use of questions: used to extract information, maintain the conversation flow, and seek clarity and commitment.
Most importantly, debriefing is sexy if you act on the information. If your followers see change, then you’re likely to be respected which makes leadership very satisfying.