• Michael Soderling

Your management team – boost its performance


How does boosting management team performance by 20 – 25 per cent with just 18 minutes of reflection sound to you?

These appealing figures appear in the article Team Development Interventions: Evidence-Based Approaches for Improving Teamwork, an article which I once again want to dive into. The method, Team debrief, is described as follows in the article: “During a Team debrief, team members reflect on a performance episode or experience. They discuss what happened during the event, uncover problems and improvement areas, confirm successes, and develop a plan for future performance periods.” (p. 525).

Team debrief helps members get a common picture of the roles and responsibilities in the team. The figure of 18 minutes is the average amount of time teams set aside when they practice this method, according to the study. The article also explores the conditions needed for Team debriefs to work in practice:

The right climate. Members need to feel safe and not be fearful of conflicts should they raise potentially uncomfortable issues. To accomplish this the team may need training that helps members focus on task-oriented feedback rather than person-oriented feedback.

Structure. It is more effective to focus on performance and processes in the team rather than analyse an event in chronological order. The team can focus on specific factors of a particular event, such as how members communicated, reached decisions, or the extent to which members supported one another.

Facilitator. According to the article you should have a trained facilitator who lead Team debriefs. I have no doubt about that research finding. At the same time, my experience of working with management teams is that if they adopt a climate of curiosity and apply a role-focused approach, then these teams can handle the process on their own. In a favourable atmosphere, a constructive discussion can be held about functional and less functional behaviours that facilitate learning. Goals that aim to increase performance are crystallised.

Reflection. When something sounds too good to be true it usually is. Increase efficiency by 20 – 25 per cent in only 18 minutes? Well, in addition to the convincing findings of the study, my personal reflections are as follows. For the most part when I look at management teams they consist of sensible people. But despite this, they still do not function as a unit. That is, the teams I meet are struggling with something, otherwise they would not have hired me in the first place. And sometimes I think my job can best be summed up as helping these teams form a common picture of how things are (not) working. Because when they get that then they almost always know how to take matters further. And Team debrief is a pretty good method of getting that common picture.

Source: Lacerenza, C. N., Marlow, S. L., Tannenbaum, S. I., & Salas, E. (2018). Team Development Interventions: Evidence-Based Approaches for Improving Teamwork. American Psychologist, 73(4), 517-531.


If you are a member in a management team, you might be interested in this free guide: How to create a successful management team. You can download it here.

The clients who reach out to me are managing directors, management teams, and executives who want to realise the potential in their organisations and accomplish extraordinary results. They reach out to me because of my ability to transform individuals, teams, and organisations. #michaelsoderling #teamdebrief #forcefield #leadership #organisation #managementteam

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