The success of organizational training depends on two things: an engaging training experience that is relevant to the work that people do and a meaningful debrief led by a skilled facilitator. If either of these components is missing, the training will fall flat. Without a powerful and memorable training experience, the facilitator will have nothing to draw from to tie it back to the workplace, and they will essentially be presenting information like any other lecture. On the other hand, without a solid debrief, even the best training experience will have limited results, because participants are less likely to link the lessons they learned to their real experiences on the job.
Let’s focus on what it takes to master a debrief in organizational training using a three-step approach.
1. Provide an Engaging Experience That Mimics a Real-Life Problem
Remember-you can’t have a meaningful debrief without the participants first going through a shared experience that requires them to solve the types of problems they face in the workplace. Think of it as a game that parallels real-life activities. The participants are immersed in a different world (the desert, the Wild West, etc.) and are wholly focused on overcoming a challenge, like surviving harsh conditions or mining for gold. Although they might not realize it at the time, the skills they must use to win the game can be applied in the workplace to improve performance. So, the first step to mastering the debrief is providing a memorable experiential learning activity.
2. Share How to Win the Game
After a successful experiential learning session, participants want to know how they did. Everybody wants to win, and after immersing themselves fully in the experience, they want to know what they could have done to achieve the greatest success. This is the facilitator’s chance to share with the group the various skills and behaviors that the teams could have used to perform better.
The specific components will depend on the experience, but it’s critical for the facilitator to clearly outline each component, explain why it is critical for success in the game, and describe how optimal performance leads to success. Defining the essential elements for winning the game leads to the next step: connecting the game to the workplace.
3. Translate Winning the Game to Winning in the Real World
After the participants understand what they could have done better to win the game, it’s time for the final (and most important) step in the debrief. At this point, it’s not necessarily clear to the group members that the new skills they learned in the game have any connection to the real world. After all, what does trekking through the desert have to do with managing a project in the office? As it turns out, quite a lot. The planning, preparation, and execution required to make it to the end are all skills that can be applied in the workplace, just in a different context.
The facilitator’s role is to ask how the challenges and successes experienced in the training can be connected to the workplace. The group members will ultimately reach the conclusion that they can make specific behavior changes on the job to achieve better performance. By applying the principles they used to win the game, they can also win at work. In order to do this successfully, the facilitator must do the following things.
The facilitator must be able to directly link the experience to the reality that participants face every day. This means being well-versed in the common language used at the organization, the relationships between people and teams, and any other internal nuances that impact behavior.
Many activities elicit multiple principles. The facilitator should be prepared to focus on the ones that resonate the most with the group and allow enough time for a deeper discussion. For the concepts that the group members did not grasp as clearly, the facilitator can ask leading questions to allow them to come to the realization that there is more to take away from the experience than meets the eye.
Organizational training is a worthwhile investment, but in order to get the most from an experiential learning activity, an expert debrief is critical. A skilled facilitator who understands the organization and its objectives has the power to make experiential learning not just a game but a powerful event that creates lasting change.
As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.
Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.