Debriefing is a core leadership practice. How can you tell when you are doing it well? How do you know when your debriefing sessions are successful; delivering positive results; added value? What are the signs, indicators or measures of success for debriefing?

See these past blogs that introduce debriefing:

This blog will focus on metrics for debriefing.

Guiding question: 

My guiding question for generating metrics is: “What will success look like?” In this case: “How will I know if my debriefing was successful? How can I tell if it delivered positive results and added value? What are the signs, indicators or measures of success for debriefing?”

Metrics for debriefing:

Which of the following metrics are relevant to the kind of debriefing you are doing; to the way you are using debriefing; to what you want to get out of debriefing?

  • Results: You see a positive impact on performance and results, i.e., debriefing is helping you make improvements and raise the bar on performance.
  • Project Management: You have a better understanding of progress to plan on important goals and projects; you are catching problems sooner; fewer things are falling through the cracks; you are anticipating problems & dealing with them more proactively (fewer negative surprises)…
  • Performance Management: You have a better and more current understanding of how your employees are performing, where they are struggling, where they need help, what they need to learn, when they are ready for bigger challenges…
  • Learning: It spurs new ideas; someone learns something useful or sees how they could perform something better next time; you have identified new options and alternatives for action; employees have a better understanding of the consequences of their decisions and actions; you have helped an employee flesh out or improve an idea; etc.
  • Employee Development: Over time, your employees begin making better decisions, asking better questions, more accurately assessing the scope and difficulty of projects, are ready to take on more responsibility sooner, etc. Further, they are building the habit of reflecting on (debriefing) their own practices, and are doing a better job of mentoring newer employees.
  • Employee Engagement: Your employees are actively engaged in the conversation, interested in the discussion, concerned with the issues, attentive to the needs of the team or organization… Employees are volunteering information, chipping in, asking good questions, etc., and doing so voluntarily and proactively rather than simply because they are being asked to. Quantitative metrics: enhanced employee engagement and decreased absenteeism and turnover.
  • Leadership Style & Coaching Support: Your employees are getting the support and direction they need to master their tasks and prepare for higher levels of responsibility, you are forced to intervene less often (i.e., jump in and solve your employees’ problems for them)…and in general, you are moving from tight supervision (lots of hand-holding) to delegation and empowerment—and it is working.

Primary and secondary metrics:

Each of the metrics listed above is a potential benefit of successful debriefing. The value of each depends on the situation: results generated, costs avoided, capacity built…

Debriefing is a very powerful activity. Done well, it will generate several positive benefits—ripple effects of doing this important work. In other words, you might formally track a few key metrics, but expect to see several other positive outcomes as well. (On primary and secondary metrics, see here.)

Identify the metrics that are most important to you, and then drill down to get the level specificity and concreteness you need. As Einstein said: “Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

Behavioural (qualitative) metrics:

Some of these metrics are quantitative (e.g., absenteeism and turnover) and others are qualitative (behavioral). The qualitative piece is very important for this reason: it is not enough for our leaders to simply do more debriefing. They also have to do it well. The quality of their work (how they debrief) has a direct impact on the results achieved.

Doing the right things, and doing them well, gives you a much better chance of success. It is therefore crucial to track both behaviors and results (both qualitative and quantitative metrics) in our complex projects, tasks, and duties (see this blog).


Advanture offers world class leadership development programs in five master leadership practices: (i) employee engagement and retention; (ii) coaching and managing talent; (iii) leading change; (iv) team leadership, facilitative leadership, collaborative practice; and (v) aligning culture with strategy—managing culture for competitive advantage.

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