Why the Facilitator Course
What is a facilitator course?
The facilitator’s job is to support everyone to do their best thinking. They create an environment where everyone is encouraged to participate, understand one another’s point of view and share responsibility. In doing so, a group facilitator helps members look for elegant solutions and build sustainable agreements.
Some groups have little need for this kind of help. For example, those whose meetings are largely information sharing, announcements and reports. Or groups who meet regularly for routine decisions about standard problems like scheduling. Those kinds of issues can be handled without much need for meeting facilitation.
What about more difficult challenges groups face? For example, a product-launching group consisting of design, marketing, manufacturing and customer service. Despite a common goal of increased sales, their frames of reference are very different. What seems reasonable to one may place too many demands on another. And interpersonal communication styles are likely to be quite different as well. What’s the likelihood that the group will survive the push-pull of their group work?
Groups face other issues as well including clarifying roles for projects that have not been done before, resolving high-stakes conflicts, etc. In situations like these, groups will make better decisions if they embrace a facilitative mind and skill set to support them to do their best thinking. This is often accomplished by preparing a facilitator guide to help the meeting leader when facilitating a meeting and by applying fundamental group facilitation skills.
To what extent does a facilitative mind set exist in YOUR organization?
Trainer vs. Facilitator Course…what’s the difference?
We have identified eight distinct roles that a facilitator is likely to play during a session.
- Motivator: From the rousing opening statement to the closing words of cheer, you ignite a fire within the group, establish momentum, and keep the pace.
- Guide: You know the steps of the process the group will execute from beginning to end and carefully guide the participants through each step in turn.
- Questioner: You listen carefully to the discussion and quickly analyze comments to formulate questions that help guide a productive group discussion and challenge the group when appropriate.
- Bridge Builder: You create and maintain a safe and open environment for sharing ideas. Where other people see differences, you find and use similarities to establish a foundation for building bridges to consensus.
- Clairvoyant: Throughout the session, you are attuned to signs of strain, weariness, aggravation, and disempowerment, and respond in advance to prevent dysfunctional behavior.
- Peacemaker: Although it is generally better to avoid direct confrontations, should it happen, you step in quickly to reestablish order and direct the group toward a constructive resolution.
- Taskmaster: You are ultimately responsible for keeping the session on track. This entails tactfully cutting short irrelevant discussions, preventing detours, and maintaining a consistent level of detail throughout the session.
- Praiser: At every opportunity, you should praise participants for good effort, progress, and results – praise well, praise often, praise specifically.
What Does a Facilitator Course Do?
To facilitate an event well, you must first understand the group’s desired outcome, and the background and context of the meeting or event. The bulk of your responsibility is then to:
- Design and plan the group process, and select the tools that best help the group progress towards that outcome.
- Guide and control the group process to ensure that:
- There is effective participation.
- Participants achieve a mutual understanding.
- Their contributions are considered and included in the ideas, solutions or decisions that emerge.
- Participants take shared responsibility for the outcome.
- Ensure that outcomes, actions and questions are properly recorded and actioned, and appropriately dealt with afterwards.
We look in more detail at most important of these areas below.