Helping Teams to Help Themselves: Comparing two Team-Led Debriefing Methods



Team-based structures have become more widely used in organizations. Therefore, it is important for team members to perform well in their current team and to build skills and enthusiasm for working on future teams. This study examined team debriefing, an intervention in which team members reflect on recent experiences to prepare for subsequent tasks. Prior researchers have shown that facilitated team debriefs work, but they have not examined how to enable teams to conduct their own debriefs or studied how debriefs affect individual level outcomes. Therefore, we compared 2 team-led debriefing techniques: (a) an unguided debrief and (b) a guided debrief designed to incorporate lessons learned from prior debriefs. We collected data from 174 business students who were members of 35 teams from 9 sections of a Strategic Management course. Class sections were randomly assigned to one of the debriefing conditions, and teams completed 4 business cases over 10 weeks. A multilevel design was employed and a multistage model building approach was used to test the hypotheses using hierarchical linear modeling techniques. Results of this cluster randomized, quasi-experimental design suggest that the team-led guided debrief intervention resulted in superior team processes as compared to the unguided debriefing method. Team processes, in turn, related significantly to greater team performance and increased individual readiness for teamwork and enthusiasm for teaming. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.