Sometimes when things are going smoothly, it’s easy to get complacent and miss opportunities to improve.

Just like sailing on calm seas can lead to a false sense of security, skipping work debrief when the task or job went well can prevent you from identifying ways to enhance performance and safety.

But first, what on earth (or rather, sea) is a work debrief?

No, it’s not just another box-ticking exercise or report to write.

Work debrief or debriefing can take different names, so it can be confusing for some. But simply put, it is an informal conversation among team members after job completion.

It allows everyone to reflect on the job, discuss what went well and what did not, and share improvement ideas.

Overcome objections and create a culture of continuous improvement

In the recent Safety Delta annual reports that we generated, we noticed that work debriefs are not held regularly on board, unlike toolbox talks.

So in this article, we’re going to help you address the objections to conducting debriefs and motivate your team to make them part of your routine.

Here are the most common objections as well as some tips to overcome them.

“The job went well”

Ah, yes, the classic. But just because things seem to have gone smoothly doesn’t mean there aren’t areas for improvement. It’s like an iceberg – there might be hidden problems lurking beneath the surface.

So use debrief as a review and reflection tool. It helps you identify areas where things could be even better, as well as uncover hidden issues. In the process, you become more proactive and innovative.

💡 Tips:

Seek everyone’s perspective. Just because some team members think that the job went well doesn't mean that everyone sees it that way.
Encourage your team to share improvement insights. Check out the Sharing Improvement Insight brief in the Safety Delta Learning Library (SDLL) for some tips for both team members and leaders.

“We’ve done the job several times before”

Even so, there could be new team members or different conditions that can lead to new ideas and lessons. When we do something repeatedly, we should be careful not to fall into the trap of complacency and overlook potential risks.

💡 Tips:

Remind your team of the risk of complacency.
Encourage a growth mindset. Even small changes can lead to big improvements.

“We don’t have time”

A debrief doesn’t have to take long. In fact, even just a few minutes of informal conversation can yield valuable insights and prove to be a time well spent.

💡 Tips:

If you finish the job late in the evening or in the wee hours of the morning, take a rest first and then do the debrief afterwards. (Because let's be honest, who wants to debrief when they're half-asleep?)
Keep the conversation structured so you can save time. Use the three guide questions in the SDLL Work Debrief poster.

“Everyone’s already aware of what happened”

While team members may have witnessed the same events, they may have experienced or interpreted those events differently. By conducting debrief, your team can have a complete understanding of what happened.

💡 Tips:

Keep in mind that even members with a higher rank or several years of experience may still not know everything.
Use the funnel questioning technique to get into the experience of your team members. Practice it by doing the SDLL Encouraging Crew to Speak Up practical exercise.

“It’s only about fault-finding”

Some may perceive debrief as a discussion that highlights their mistakes and shortcomings (which can be demotivating). But that’s not the real goal. It’s about learning from the experience and celebrating successes too.

💡 Tips:

Recognise the members’ good performance to motivate them. Practice the 3 A’s tool by doing the SDLL Appreciative Feedback practical exercise.
Create an open and learning atmosphere where you focus on solutions rather than mistakes. Check out the SDLL No Blame Culture animation to learn how.

“Nothing happens, we don’t see improvements”

It takes time and effort to see results, and sometimes those results are not immediately visible. Nonetheless, they lay the groundwork for future success and help prevent potential problems from arising.

In fact, we have a client who witnessed a 50% improvement in safety performance after making debriefs part of their routine. 🙌

💡 Tips:

Turn input from the completed job into new learnings that can be used in the next toolbox talk and job execution.
Track your progress over time and use data and metrics to see how debriefing has led to improvements.
Do the practical exercise in the SDLL Turning Safety Ideas Into Actions topic to train yourself to inspire the team’s commitment to the successful implementation of safety ideas.

Experience the effects of work debriefs by turning ideas into actions

Remember to:

Take action in a timely manner
Engage all team members
Involve the office (one way the office can help is by ensuring that debriefs are supported by the company’s Safety Management System or SMS)
Communicate about the challenges and progress

Client anniversary

Among Us
Among Us is a monthly digital newsletter, primarily for Safety Delta members, but also for those who want to get a ‘sneak peek’ at the experiences gained by those of us who are already ‘insiders’. It also presents the developments of Safety Delta.
Follow the flow of inspiration - Subscribe to GJ Academy
Thank you for your Subscription