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Daily Briefings Build Trust in Teams

How much time do you spend with your crew each shift discussing your daily objectives? 10 minutes? 30 minutes? How and where is it discussed? Or do you even discuss it at all?

Daily briefings allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of our team of firefighters and our long-term planning efforts. They can be used to relay new information, build trust in the team, generate new ideas or approaches, plan or review team projects, make decisions, and resolve conflict.

Daily briefings are where we manage our daily activities. The following are suggestions on how to facilitate them.

Schedule the briefing
A daily briefing doesn’t need to take a lot of time; 15 to 30 minutes is probably enough. It’s not the time spent on the briefing that’s important, it’s what is accomplished during it that makes the difference.

Briefings should be scheduled at the same time each day, usually at the beginning of a shift, in order to encourage making it a habit. It should be mandatory for everyone in the crew to attend.

Prepare the briefing
To have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, plan each briefing in advance. List the specific objectives you wish to accomplish, making sure that they are achievable and measurable. Because all of the objectives are not equally as important, prioritize them so as to complete the most critical first.

Provide any information or materials that might be needed to carry out the activities. For example, if one objective is to complete one pre-fire plan, provide any previous inspection and pre-fire plan information and the forms to complete it.

Communicate clearly
The better your communication, the more smoothly your briefing will go and the better your chances are for accomplishing your daily objectives. Make sure that everyone has access to any information needed, and that you encourage open communication by listening and providing feedback.

Distribute informational material about your objectives, including training, inspections or other topics of discussion. Use a dry-erase board to list the daily objectives, seat assignments or training diagrams.

Guide the briefing
Work hard to ensure that everyone’s ideas and thoughts are heard by providing a free flow of debate with no one individual dominating and no extensive discussions between two people. Keep the briefing moving and on time. Make it clear who is responsible for specific tasks. Record your briefing notes and make them part of an information archive. Document assigned action items to review future progress and completion.

Wrap up the briefing
Review all of the action items, who will be responsible for what and when it will be due. Make sure that nobody has a question and there’s no confusion. This makes everyone on the team accountable. Then leave the briefing on a high note, something to motivate the crew, such as, “Let’s work hard and be safe.”

Spend some time with your team each shift passing on information, building trust and generating new ideas. A daily briefing will help your team sharpen their skills and improve their productivity. It will help you focus on prioritizing your goals and accomplishing them. By using daily briefings as a tool, you can increase the growth of your team.

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