Facilitation is often seen as neutral role using guidance and encouragement tactics to help team members achieve meeting objectives.
Facilitation skills are part of the most advanced set of skills every leader should build. Developed and used properly, facilitation skills can save time, money and effort, can lower the stress levels and boost productivity.
That is why J.K. Blanch has called Facilitation “Science of helping groups with their thinking”.
How Facilitation can make a difference you can find if you just examine the definition of the term.
According to the HBR glossary: Facilitation is a structured method to make processes and actions easier and help forward or progress.
Facilitation as a methodology has three main elements to ensure effective process:
Focus on progress
If you can combine these three effectively, then you will be able to reap the benefits of resourceful people gathered together in a team meeting.
1.Focus on progress
The key challenge in the facilitation process is to ensure that there is progress achieved. To ensure that you will need to focus on the meeting or event you are facilitating. To effectively do that you need to:
– Set the meeting tone right from the start
-Actively manage level of activity and engagement in the meeting/event
– Observe the energy levels and manage them (for ex. If you see that there is an exhaust break the session for a couple of minutes)
– Acknowledge all ideas and contribution and build environment of consensus
– Build balance between elements such as:
Moving things forward;
Keeping on time for the meeting/event
Concluding on decisions and actions
Overall managing people actions and activities
To ensure and successfully manage progress you not only need to keep the meeting or event on track but you need to put in game good interpersonal skills. Here is the list of skills I’m offering you to focus on:
-Building rapport – this means to meet people on their level of understanding and expertise, ensuring that they feel comfortable with you ;
– Put effective verbal and nonverbal communication – this means to focus on using language that is passing the level of the group you are communicating with
– Active listening – demonstrating your true interests with verbal and body language postures. Some phrases you can use here to show interest are “go on”, “Yes, I see” etc.
– Questioning techniques – you can use questions to get more clarification on a topic, or provoke different thinking in the people(“What can we do differently?”, “Is there something else that can explain that?” etc.)
The first thing to understand here is that everyone is different. Every participant in the meeting or event you are facilitating should participate with his/her strengths and use their own characteristics to ensure they are successful in the meeting/the event.
First you must think on what you as a facilitator bring in the session. You must also consider what are your personal strengths that will help you to facilitate the progress in the meeting or the event.
If easier for you, you can write down all the strengths that you will bring in the meeting or the event to help you easily use them in the meeting. Your list must include as simple as possible things.
For example, you might write in the list such things like: Ability to learn, Sensitivity, Self-awareness, Openness for change, Sense of humor etc.
Writing the strengths you will use during the meeting or event facilitated will help you to follow them and can serve as a reminder for you if you need to move ahead in a different situation.
Bonus tip: Remember people are different. When putting your strengths in the game don’t forget to test how they are perceived Something you might think is a strength can be seen from others as a threat or weakness.
We can’t know how our behavior will affect others in a meeting. The Facilitators work is one of the hardest tasks in each meeting or event. The best facilitators have in mind that even with the best plan, sometimes things just don’t go well in the meetings. But putting your understanding, plans and actions on the table and couple them with the strengths of your personality can help you become a balanced and effective leader with positive experience in one of the hardest to build leadership skills.