When is facilitation required?

Here’s a quick guide to when facilitation may be required:Facilitator toolkit

  1. The issues under discussion are emotive, sensitive and likely to provoke controversy and robust debate.
  2. There is no obvious set of answers and solutions will only emerge from creative thinking where judgement is suspended until all avenues have been explored thoroughly.
  3. Where there is a history of poor listening and working relationships amongst group members.
  4. When it is essential to build consensus where everyone supports the emergent solutions.
  5. Where it is paramount that everyone gets heard.

What are the signs of an excellent facilitator?

  • Number one is, a good listener who hears what is said, how it is said and also The_Many_Roles_of_a_Facilitatorwhat is not said – this leads, naturally, to good motivation within the group;
  • Someone who uses a wide range of question types: facts, positives, negatives, feelings, opinions, implications, summaries – this opens up discussion and stimulates the generation of ideas and possibilities;
  • Great influencing skills.  Knows when to push and when to pull.  Also knows when to walk away and give the group members space to work on their own;
  • Uses power selectively.  Uses power over people, shares power with them and gives them power.  Fluctuates between these power modes based on what is required at the time and at points in discussions;
  • Is great at summarising what has happened to keep everything on track and to stimulate further discussion and exploration;
  • Good planning skills.  Complex issues need to be broken down into bite sized chunks, people need to be led through stages to negotiate sensitive issues safely and constructively;
  • Has a big toolkit of processes and techniques.  Can choose from a range of methods to suit the context and group members;
  • Knows when to wrap up discussions and move onto to decision making.  Avoids prolonging the agony of endless debate;
  • Is flexible and can improvise on the hoof.  Knows when to throw the agenda away and go with the flow when the situation demands it.

Can managers facilitate?  Yes, if they tell their people that they are taking their management hats off and adopting a facilitator’s role.  Clearly, there may be occasions when it is essential to have an independent, outside facilitator usually where concerns of bias may make management facilitation just too problematic.

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