The Purpose of Team Briefings

If team briefings are done well, messages are passed on more accurately and completely than by any other channel of communication in an organisation.

In giving team briefings you need to:

  • Be very clear about the message you need to send
  • Check that it has been received clearly and understood

 

Several-way process

Team briefings enable all the team members to ask questions, raise issues or air problems.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you can answer all their likely questions accurately, or that you find out an answer and report back to them as quickly as possible.  You also need to pay attention to the points that team members raise, as you may need to pass aspects of those points on to people outside the team, especially if it could affect the outcomes of a planned activity.

As well as enabling you to pass on information from the senior managers, briefings allow you to communicate information from your line manager, other teams and other sources.  Typical topics that benefit from being presented through team briefings include training and development opportunities, planned maintenance on equipment, new team members starting, holiday or shift changes, new products or services, promotion and team performance results.

In some teams the members take it in turns to bring in biscuits or cakes, which helps to build the sense of being part of a team.  The briefing can also be a chance for individual members to pass on information or give feedback on an activity.  This also helps to build the team and emphasises that the team leader is not the only person who has done something useful or performed particularly well.  There may even be a system of rewards for individuals who hit targets, although this can be divisive if the same people win frequently.

Planning a team briefing

A team briefing can be a one-off event or could happen every week, or even every day.  It doesn’t matter which, there is always the same need to plan it properly.  Planning starts by being clear about the purpose of the briefing:

  • what information you want the team to know
  • what action you want the team members to take.

There are two separate issues.  The fact that the IT system will be down overnight, for instance, may be just something for them to know.  That they should switch off their machines at the end of the day’s work (and not just log off from the server as usual) is something they must do.

Sequence

You should then sort the topics for the briefing into order.  The important matters should be first to emphasis their importance.  The deal with the least important item, and finish with the most urgent, so that you can leave the team members at the end thinking about what needs to be done urgently.  This means that the ideal order for topics is as follows:

1.      Most important issues – team members must know or do this.
2.      Useful but less important details – team members should know or do this.
3.      Urgent issues – team members must do this soon or straight away.

You should ‘top’ and ‘tail’ your briefings with a summary.  It is useful to remember the following three simple steps:

1.      Tell them what you are going to say (introduction)
2.      Say it (important, useful, urgent)
3.      Tell them what you have said (summary)

Presenting your briefing

A briefing is neither a formal presentation nor a speech.  You will probably need to make notes to ensure that you cover all the relevant points.  But avoid writing every word beforehand, if you can, and the actual words until you are facing the team.  That way you ensure that you maintain eye contact (because you are not reading) and will sound as if you mean what you are saying.

If you have prepared for the briefing properly, you will have made a plan.  This will start with the short summary of the issues you will cover, in the order you will cover them.  In Step 2 you will list each item again, with the key points you should cover, clearly identifying any action that team members need to take.  Remember to start with the most important and finish with the most urgent.  If something needs to be done straight away, you should emphasise this as the final point – the most urgent – so that is the last thought in everyone’s mind as they leave.

If you already give regular team briefings, check that you are preparing them carefully, that you cover topics in the best order and everyone knows what they have to do.  If you do not have regular team briefings, try organising an occasional one, discussing with your manager what the team needs to know and how you can contribute to the organisation’s communications.