What is Team Briefing?
Team Briefing is a regular and formal communication process where up to 30 minutes is set aside on a regular and time tabled basis, usually once per month, so that all employees are kept informed by their immediate boss on what is relevant to them.
Team Briefing concentrates on the job and how it can be done better and includes other information which employees need to know to feel involved in and part of the organisation.
Team Briefing is not simply about cascading information from the top of an organisation downwards nor is it simply a means for top level management to talk directly to the workforce. Rather it is about team leaders talking to and motivating their teams in order to gain commitment to the job and the tasks required to improve the performance of the team.
What are the benefits?
The most important benefit that Team Briefing is able to make is that, when done effectively, it raises levels of commitment, motivation and enthusiasm amongst employees thereby ensuring greater efficiency and productivity.
- Team Briefing reduces the harmful effects of the ‘grapevine’ by providing the manager or supervisor with the opportunity to present the reasons and logic behind decisions.
- Team Briefing provides a regular channel for disseminating information to employees and thereby allows for more meaningful consultation with the workforce.
- Team Briefing has the effect of strengthening and enhancing the position of the manager or supervisor as the leader of the team. The role of the team leader in the Team Briefing process is not one of the ‘newsreader’ – rather that he/she plays the role of ‘coach’, reviewing past performance and motivating staff to greater results.
FIVE PRINCIPLES OF TEAM BRIEFING
- Team Briefing must take place face to face – the team leader must address his/her team directly.
- Team Briefing takes place in teams ‑ ideally teams should be between 4 and 15 in size. Where numbers are greater than 15, subdivision and sequential briefing should be considered. However, wherever practically possible, the whole team should be involved.
- Team Briefing is conducted by the leader ‑ only in cases of unavoidability should a deputy be used.
- Team Briefing must be regular in order to provide credibility. Once per month is recognised as the optimum timing to obtain greatest benefits.
- Team Briefing must be relevant – the content must be about the job which the team perform and its importance within the organisation as a whole.
The content of the brief
The most important rule to observe is the ’70‑30 rule’.
This requires that 70% of the brief be given by a local team leader is generated by them – the other 30% is made up of the Core Brief from the leadership team, supplemented with additional inputs from managers lower down the briefing chain.
- The Core Brief: issued by the Leadership team should consist of a maximum of two key messages which should be short and to the point. Wherever possible, one of these points should be a measure of performance of the organisation as a whole.
- Adding to the Core Brief: as the Core Brief is passed down through middle managers a maximum of one point should be added at each level.
- The Local Brief: this is the most important part of the brief for the team leader and team to shop or office floor level. It is recommended that the local brief should always contain three measures of performance of the team ‑ two which need improving and one which is going well. In addition, the local team leader may select information from a wide range of sources. Examples might include…
- Progress – Yardsticks of performance, comparisons against budgets/targets/other groups, successes, failures, new orders/customers
- Policy – Change in systems, routines, deadlines, plans, procedures and arrangements, IT
- People ‑ Starters, leavers, promotions, transfers, new organisation structures
- Other ‑ Improvements in quality, safety, etc.
The monthly Team Briefing process commences with a meeting between the Leadership team and their direct reports to create the ‘Core Brief’.
The attendees should be invited to contribute items for the ‘Core Brief’ and the leader should follow with his/her input.
All of these inputs are discussed and the ‘Core Brief’ for that month is agreed.
At subsequent meetings down through the hierarchy, the same drill is utilised and priority items added to the Core Brief. It is therefore necessary that all local briefs are prepared in advance of attending Team Briefing sessions
As the Core Brief becomes progressively localised, team briefers should ask questions and make notes relevant to their teams. Clarification of points in the Core Brief should always be obtained prior to briefing the local team.
Team briefers should keep a record of the Core Briefs and local briefs for reference together with information, suggestions and ideas for the next briefing process.
Each briefer should also undertake to respond to questions raised/points of clarification required by members of local teams within a 24 hour period.
Monitoring and evaluating Team Briefing
It is essential that Team Briefing is regularly monitored to ensure that quality and consistency in the briefing process are maintained. Monitoring can be done through managers sitting in briefs at lower levels to check on the way Core Briefs are being delivered or by ‘walking the job’ and randomly checking on the understanding of the Core Brief locally.
Evaluating the longer-term effectiveness of Team Briefing is more difficult. However, it is essential for senior line and functional managers to assess the contribution of Team Briefing to departmental and functional performance. Attitude surveys may provide a useful tool for gauging the impact of Team Briefing on all employees.
The longer-term effectiveness of Team Briefing will depend on the commitment given to it by team leaders at all levels of the organisation and any gains that can be made in productivity and efficiency will be a function of their efforts to make it work for them.
Copyright: © Clive Weston, The Hartwell Consultancy, 2020
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