How Can I Become A More Effective Facilitator?

7.) Before the meeting ends, the group will jointly design next steps that demonstrate the level of commitment necessary to succeed. 5.) All participants are invited to ask questions of an existing point of view. Do the behind the scenes work ahead of time to get the outcome you want.

Relaxed reminders of the agreed upon behaviors can be fine. “Alberto, please try not to interrupt” or “We’ve agreed to not have our cell phones on, Nancy.” But enforcement is best when explicit and direct – identifying behavior in the moment or shortly after it. In other words, don’t review the list of behaviors and hope that Nancy will notice her behavior and act to stop it.

Your job is to establish a trusting environment so each person can do that for themselves. That’s why the final tip to facilitating like a pro is to rotate who facilitates your team’s retrospective. That step might be scheduling a follow-up meeting, doing a quick pen-and-ink sketch, writing an outline for a proposal, or asking a question in Slack to get additional feedback. We log that small next step with a specific owner assigned to make it happen. Oftentimes, facilitators set a timer for the Reflect phase, but will leave other phases un-timed.

In organizing, engagement, and equity work grounded in the practice of inclusion, equity, and democratic decision-making, diverse community representation is often used to challenge or overcome historical patterns of exclusion, inequity, and biased decision-making. Facilitators may also need to call out and challenge disrespectful behavior, harmful language, or threatening mannerisms that might intimidate or silence some participants. In addition to calling out transgressions, facilitators may propose that participants snap their fingers, or use some other signal, if they believe someone has broken an agreement. Facilitators are usually trained and prepared to address unproductive conflicts that might arise or behaviors that are disruptive or intimidating. Problematic social behavior can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including a distrust of the facilitators, organizers, or hosts due to negatives experiences they may have had in the past. Smart Facilitators start each session or meeting by suggesting a set of ground rules, explaining each one carefully.

Individual Meetings If Needed

While some teams may have worked together for some time and have established their own functional, unspoken ground rules, we have found that most groups benefits from a deliberate process of identifying in bounds and out of bounds behavior. Overtime, ground rules can help a group become self-correcting. They will begin correcting themselves based on the norms that they have established and reinforced. In large public meetings, we recommend that meeting planners provide ground rules created in advance. This allows the group to focus on the meeting topic while having clear expectations for discussion. Once an additional ground rule is suggested, ask participants if they would be willing to agree to it.

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Useful Free Online Tools For Workshop Planning And Meeting Facilitation

Let’s take an annual strategic planning meeting as an example, where the manager of the team is present. She has her own ideas about what a good strategy might be for the company; however, so do all the other people in the room! Or to put it differently, as a manager and knowledgeable expert in a group, would you rather want to spend your attention on facilitating the process or contributing to it to come up with a good company strategy? This is why it is useful to have one person fully dedicated to focusing on how the group members are working together, helping them achieve their goals effectively without introducing bias.

  • As a trainer, you need to put more emphasis on learning design skills and possess more knowledge about adult learning principles.
  • In these cases, a facilitator might start a conversation by asking the group’s oldest members to share their ideas first, or they may push back if adults start talking over younger participants or treating their perspectives dismissively.
  • Getting all the right people in the room will allow you to save time down the road, make sure all relevant perspectives are being heard, and ensure that the workshop outcomes can actually get executed after the workshop is done and dusted.
  • The balance of contribution matters, because there is much lost when an important voice isn’t heard in the work because they’re busy trying to make sure the meeting ends on time.

As an undergraduate of Northwestern University and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed. After expectation setting, each participant will be invited to make a brief statement addressed to the other participants regarding their understanding of what has happened to create the issues and their goals for the discussion. Some participants use the opening comments phase to apologize for previous difficulties. While each participant speaks, the other participants are invited to take notes and consider clarifying questions for the next phase. Prior to establishing the set of ground rules, it is important to get Management buy in.

The 5 Guiding Principles Of Facilitation

This can help remote voices be heard by specifying how they can add an agenda item or follow up on a point being made, giving them an equal part in the meeting. All productive meetings have a meeting agenda decided beforehand. It’s the only way to guarantee everyone is approaching the table, or monitor, with the same mindset. Without a designated facilitator, it is unlikely that there will be a set agenda. Without an agenda, well, there’s likely to be chaos (or at least a moderate amount of interrupting and unnecessary clarifying questions.).

Or if a community group is discussing student behavior and disciplinary policies in a school, the discussion may be influenced by unconscious bias, negative past experiences with disruptive youth, or limited exposure to alternative approaches to student discipline. Consequently, participants may propose ideas that are not based on what’s actually happening with student behavior in the school, or they may only consider the traditional forms of discipline they’re familiar with. In this example, a facilitator might provide statistics showing disciplinary rates for different student populations in the school, district, state, and country, and descriptions of alternative approaches to discipline that have been effective in other schools.

Stopping and asking a participant to summarize where the discussion is at the point it appears to go off track may also help. MeetingSift helps your meeting stay on topic, and focuses the discussion on issues rather than persons. Our collaborative meeting platform lets everyone participate equally, and contribute to accomplish the What does facilitation mean meeting goals. First, before I say why I think ground rules are mostly a waste time, I’ll explain how ground rules can be effective. When done well and in the right context, ground rules can be a powerful tool for assisting a group to interact better with each other and practice new behaviors for more effective communication.

With today’s online tools, you can achieve true anonymity. Ultimately, how big or small your retrospective can be, and who should be included, will change as your team evolves. Keep asking yourself who are the right folks to have at the table, start small, and add more voices as you think your team can handle it. If many unfamiliar folks are in the room, that can have a chilling effect on the conversation, particularly if the less-familiar folks are higher up in the reporting order. Participants may be nervous they’ll be misunderstood by a leader who has less context, and so they’ll share less of their perspective. Team members also probably want to make a good impression, so they’re less likely to share important yet unflattering information.

Fun Retrospectives With Less Prep Time

Offering this towards the end of the session is important – doing so early in the dialogue can lead learners to believe that your approach is the only “correct” approach and can also intimidate them from sharing their reactions and thoughts. In addition to making sure the agenda is clear, a facilitator ensures there’s adequate time for the team to accomplish what they set out to do. It helps to break activities up into blocks of time to keep up the momentum and focus the conversation around what’s most important. They guide the team onboard where they need to go, with no objective other than to lead the team to their destination.

As noted above, learners who are not talkative are often still very engaged, and offer wonderful insights for the group to contemplate. It is important not to misinterpret a lack of verbosity with disengagement. By contrast, the learner who is disengaged warrants your attention and action. The challenge is to encourage their contributions in a supportive manner. For some, all they need is an opening – they may have had a difficult time engaging in the past or have felt belittled for their contributions – and your invitation opens the door to their engagement.

To help create a safe and productive atmosphere for group work. If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices. If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware. Download our weekly leadership guide, including podcast notes and advice from our expert guests.

Introverts dislike meetings because they are noisy and their ideas are often misunderstood or ignored. Creating a “Safe Zone” avoids one person domineering a meeting and allows for free flow thinking and idea generating. Getting input from a diverse group of people often leads to better ideas thanks to a greater level of expertise among team members as well as the variety of perspectives applied to a given goal or problem to solve; many heads are better than one. Facilitators typically take on the responsibility of managing the group decision-making process. It’s also important to have a virtual facilitation toolkit to use for remote meetings. While similar tools for in-person meetings can be used, the virtual landscape is different and therefore requires remote-specific resources to produce effective results.

If the whole team is engaged in the discussion and it’s running over time, you can opt to finish the discussion asynchronously via chat or schedule a separate time. Either way, your retrospective can keep moving along. For example, you may find that one or two team members are really excited to discuss an item, but the rest of the team disengages. By having a timer for that item, you can easily close out that conversation, and urge those who do want to keep chatting to move it to a different time or space.

This evaluation allows the facilitator to continuously improve meetings and keep participants involved. Now that we’ve covered what facilitation actually is, what role the facilitator plays, as well as debunked some of the most common myths, it’s time to get to the heart of learning how to facilitate effectively – the core principles of facilitation. But the thing is, you don’t need to be an expert in every industry to facilitate a good workshop. Just like we mentioned above, once you make the mindset shift from being the hero to being the guide, you’ll realize your role as a facilitator is not to solve the team’s challenges but to guide them through the decision-making process and unlock their abilities. Imagine a leader facilitating a meeting, telling the team that during the session they will be making an important decision on a new product direction. Later, though, the team finds out the leader had already decided on and communicated that direction to others BEFORE the session, and spent the entire session slyly guiding the team towards the leaders’ desired, predetermined outcome.

To guide a group of people to a successful outcome, facilitators need to be clear on the end goal and the milestones to be achieved along the way. Facilitators create the conditions for success by evaluating whether the time allotted for the meeting is realistic for achieving the goal, ensuring the right people are in the room, and providing the necessary materials for the work to be done. An important job of a facilitator is to ensure that the group discusses and establishes ground rules for their work together. Sometimes these ground rules might be provided in advance — but most of the time, it’s up to the facilitator to establish norms. If this is a routine meeting in the middle of a larger workflow that’s been running smoothly, facilitation is likely simple.

The Need For Facilitation Often Arises From A Feeling

Speak up whenever the discussion strays from the agenda. During discussions, challenge questionable assumptions and beliefs. During the discussions, do not talk when someone else is talking. Don’t ask questions for attacking other people’s ideas.

Reasons To Name A Meeting Facilitator

Not to be mistaken for lazy facilitation, light facilitation is still active and attentive to a group’s purpose, energy, needs, and next steps. Light Facilitation is sufficient for most kinds of collaborative work, and the increased productivity and deep thinking a team can achieve when they’re allowed to just focus on the work, is substantial. In the most successful teams I’ve seen, everyone on the team is willing and able to step up and practice light facilitation when needed. Expert facilitation is executed by people who spend much of their waking hours practicing, studying, innovating on, and/or evangelizing the art and magic of facilitation. They may be full-time facilitators, or facilitation might be a core responsibility in their role.

Acknowledging that the agenda in front of the group is the working agenda is a powerful tool for avoiding crisis and/or sidetracking during the meeting. If you have multiple desired outcomes, make sure that you have a clear process to reach each of them. This can be where your group facilitation skills can be tested if you haven’t carefully constructed a process for your workshop or meeting. Remember that a facilitator needs to prioritize and have realistic expectations of the group.

How To Deal With Individuals Dominating Meetings

” Saying this enables you to quickly test your inference that Bob’s comment isn’t related. In some cases, the perception and anticipation of an impartial process will be as important as the practice of impartial facilitation, given that community members may decline to participate in a process if they believe it will be biased against them. In politically, ideologically, or culturally divided contexts, community members may be unwilling to even consider participating in an organizing, engagement, or equity process due to suspicion and distrust stemming from negative past experiences. For example, families may be suspicious of any event organized by a school they believe has mistreated them or their children, or community groups that have publicly fought over an issue may distrust the individuals and groups they opposed. 3.) Familiarity with Process Models – Meetings whereby the process is to vote on an issue before moving forward are becoming less popular.

Having the words written out may make it easier for a shy or fearful person to speak up. The strategic use of facilitation is also a way to build power in a community, particularly among individuals and groups that may have aligned interests but that have not worked together in the past. In addition, different engagement goals or community audiences may require different facilitation strategies. A principles-based approach to organizing, engagement, and equity is based on the premise that the fundamental elements of the work—such as facilitation, authenticity, or transparency—can be customized to meet the distinct needs of the moment.

Alternatively, you might have each team member go up to the board one-by-one, read their own sticky notes, and then place them where they think they fit. The downside of this approach is that it means team members have to own which reflections are theirs, but you might counteract that by shuffling sticky notes and asking team members to pick a random set to sort. Something like, “Our PR Review process was really slow this sprint – add some reflections on that,” won’t prompt the team to engage more, but rather to mirror your own opinion back to you.

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