debrief questions for team building games

Debrief Questions for Team Building Games

By Doug Franklin September 26, 2018

Let’s talk the why and the how behind great debrief questions for team building games. 

Need a great team building game? Check these out

The Why Behind Debriefing Team Building Games

Leadership experiences, particularly team building games, are a very important teaching tool in the leadership development process, but what makes them transformational is when they’re guided by great debrief questions.

“Facilitate transformational conversations with these debrief questions for team building.”

Jesus was the master of this as he worked with his disciples. Remember in Luke 10:1-20 when Jesus sent his followers on a mission trip? When they returned, Jesus sat with his disciples and debriefed the experience. He knew that his followers would face these trials again, and he prioritized debriefing the experience to help them in their future ministry. We need do the same with our student leaders. We need great debrief questions for team building games.

How to Ask Debrief Questions for Team Building Games

Here’s how:

This is the LeaderTreks process for debriefing a team building game (or any leadership experience).

Debrief Question #1: What problems and challenges were you facing? 

Ask, “What problems and challenges were you facing?” This is a question that will lead students to uncover the truth about the team building game or the leadership experience. They should be able to describe both the good things that happened and the areas where they struggled. Make sure to celebrate the wins and to be honest about moments of tension or failure. In this first step it’s important to let students do the talking. Your debrief questions should allow students to process what took place.

Debrief Question #2: What leadership principles did you use or misuse? 

Next ask, “What leadership principles did you use or misuse?” Here you play the role of mentor: a person who helps students interpret and understand what they have experienced. Help students make connections to leadership principles that they lived out or struggled with during the team building game. Perhaps they showed great focus, but their communication lacked compassion. It may be that they accomplished the goal but they did so by cutting corners. This debrief question allows you to put a name to what actually took place, whether good or bad.

Debrief Question #3: How can you apply what we’ve learned in real life?

Towards the end of the debrief, ask “How can you apply what you’ve learned in real life?” At this point students may see how their leadership needs to improve, but they likely don’t know how to make it happen. Challenge them to translate the issue. If they struggled with focus during the team building game, do they also struggle to focus during leadership team meetings? If they were timid to take risks during the team building game, are they also timid to engage with new students during youth group? It’s your job to ask debrief questions that will help them connect the dots between the team building game and their real life experiences as a team.

Once they’ve made a connection, push for a specific and measurable life application. Great applications answer the questions “Who? What? Where? When? How?” The application of “I want to love my younger brother more” becomes “I will make a snack for my younger brother when he gets home from school on Wednesday.” Specific and measurable applications give students ways to put their what they’ve discovered into action.

Use these three debrief questions for team building games, and you’ll set yourself up for team building success. Most students want to be effective leaders, and when you debrief with them they understand that it’s ok to make a mistake and gain confidence that you have their backs.

Need a great team building game? Check these out

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More