AAR: Questions that Invite Participation
The steps for leading After Action Reviews (AAR) are not difficult; however, many AARs fail to promote a learning environment that encourages all members to become actively involved. A large part of this failure is caused by phrasing questions in the wrong manner. That is, when asking questions, they should never be confrontational, but rather invite all the members to participate. While there are times and places for confrontational questions (for example, see Confrontation Counseling), the AAR is not one of them. This is because an AAR is a method for improving performance, not an environment for placing blame. This can be accomplished by focusing on Lessons Learned.
This learning activity will help you to become a better leader when conducting AARs.
AAR Learning Activity
Objective: Rephrase confrontational questions so that they invite all the AAR members to participate.
Divided the learners into small groups (2 to 4 learners per group)
Hand out the Badly Phrased AAR Questions below and instruct them to rewrite the confrontational questions so that they invite others to join in on the conversation. Ask them to look for solutions, rather than attempt to give or ward off blame. Give them about 15 minutes.
After they have completed the activity, bring them back together and have the groups read and discuss some of their alternative questions aloud.
Total time: about 30 minutes.
Badly Phrased AAR Questions
1. “Sue, some members of your team failed to follow the proper procedures for entering customer complaints into the database. How are you going to correct that?”
2. “Robert, why did your equipment operators remove the safety guards from the equipment?”
3. “Paula, you are in charge of the engineering group; why did you allow them to enter confined areas without following safety procedures?”
4. “Yesterday the inspector discovered that we had two employees operating forklifts without proper certification. They are on your team Sam. Can you explain to me how you allowed that to happen?”
5. “We had multiple violations in almost every department! Does anyone around here follow the proper safety procedures?”
Return to the chapter on After Action Reviews
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