You and your team have poured over your latest master plan. In fact you have been so meticulous with your preparation that the local doughnut shop is experiencing a shortage on coffee and Danishes due to furnishing your countless early morning meetings.

But unfortunately all of your hard work was for naught. You have hit a major speed bump.

So what do you do? Scrap your plan and do it completely in a different manner next time?

Hey don’t give up so easily. Instead regroup and debrief.

For those less initiated in military, speak debriefing is quite simply a way to report in and review. And the following four points will help you debrief with the best of them.

1) Schedule a debriefing time

A debriefing session should not be a surprise. All participants should know the time and the place and arrive prepared. Try to stick with a consistent time that is convenient for the entire team.

2) Throw ranks out the window

You may be the boss, but when you are trying to solve problems, sometimes it’s prudent to forget about your job title and go into your debriefing with an everyone-is-equal mindset.  If members of your team are afraid of bringing up important information out of fear of reprisal, your debriefing will be a complete waste of time. Every team member must participate equally and even with a touch of emotion. Your coworkers aren’t robots, so infusing a little humanity into the session isn’t such a bad notion.

3)  Are you learning from your mistakes?

The most important product of a good debriefing is learning from missteps. Are you questioning your team’s failures and then attempting to calculate a fruitful solution? If you aren’t then your debriefing isn’t really a debriefing at all. Make sure your team members arrive with a set number of questions and concerns. The number of questions and concerns each participant arrives with is up to you. Just make sure everyone does their homework and shows up to your debriefing with a complete list.

4) Review

This is where you can take your place at the head of the table and play the part of leader. When your debriefing is winding down, it’s time to recap the meeting. You don’t have to be ridiculously detailed, but make sure you touch upon all of the important points. After you review the highlights maybe include a little encouragement so everyone leaves with a positive memory of the meeting.

5) Leave with a plan

Create an actionable plan with deadlines and specific accountabilities.
An effective debriefing session will help you and your team learn valuable information from previous missteps and get you on track for success in the next round.