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By Scott Arbuthnot

When the going gets good, improvement gets tougher! If feedback is the breakfast of champions, debriefing must be the plate it's served on.

How can you inspire constant learning and improvement for your team? If experience and mistakes are the best way to learn, how can you help the people in your team get the most learning from the everyday experiences of business? Debriefing is the answer.

The few moments you take to debrief an event will add three times the value in terms of staff training and development than the same minutes spent in off-the-job classroom style training.

Researchers Wick and Leon measured: 74% of staff learning and development experience happens on the job. Classroom training only accounted for 26% of learning.

In hindsight, debriefing is so obvious and so valuable, you wonder why more people don't do it.

As with many things good for us, we don't do them because we associate them with unpleasantness of some sort. Going to the dentist and exercising are good for us but we associate them with fear, boredom and physical pain.

The people in your business may not ask for feedback or volunteer to debrief an event because they associate feedback and debriefing with being blamed, reprimanded, made wrong and punished.

Remember what happened when you got something wrong in school? Out came the red pens and judgments. Some children actually started to think they were their test results and these results somehow dictated the rest of their lives. All this made the teachers feel important, but it often gave the rest of us some bad early experiences of feedback.

At work some traditional managers think debriefing their people is all about telling what they did wrong and telling them to "be like me".

Mental health practitioners have a saying - "All interventions should increase choice" - and I think this works well for debriefing, too.


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