Facilitation Skills

TLBS - Just Saying

Facilitation is often referred to as the new cornerstone of management philosophy. With its focus on fairness and creating an easy decision making, facilitation skills can make any organisation make better decisions.

Facilitation is a manner of handling group meetings in a way that takes the focus away from just one leader, and instead distributes leadership to all members of the group. There is premium on democracy, group involvement, and cooperation.  The focus is not just on getting things done, but also in feeling good about it.

Facilitators are process experts; they are as interested in the “how?” as much as the “what?” To produce quality output, you must arrive at it functionally.  In this module, we will discuss the difference between process and content, and which among the two should be a facilitator’s focus.

A facilitated approach is not just a technique; it’s an attitude and disposition to doing things that should be shared by the whole organization. To best benefit from group facilitation, you need to set the stage for it. In this module, we will discuss choosing a facilitated approach, planning for a facilitated meeting and collecting data.

Groups are not stagnant entities; they change. Initial uncertainty and ambiguity give way to stable patterns of interaction, while relationship between members wax and wane. To be an effective facilitator, you must be sensitive to the changes happening within groups.

The aim of facilitated discussions is to create participatory groups: one where the goal is cooperative rather than competitive decision-making. All members should have equal input in the process, and equal opportunity to voice opposition to an idea or conclusion. In this module, we will discuss the key facilitation skills needed to build consensus: encouraging participation, gathering information, presenting information, synthesizing and summarizing.

When it comes to the actual decision point, it helps that a facilitator knows ways to guide a group towards optimal decision-making. In this module, we will discuss ways to identify options, create a short list, and choose a solution. We will also use a way of deciding not often considered by many, called the multi-option technique.

Group process can get hampered by the presence of difficult members. A skilled facilitator should know how to deal with difficult people, so that the discussion will remain on track and the group atmosphere will remain pleasant and conducive to participation. In this module, we will discuss how to address disruptions, common types of difficult people in groups and how to handle them, and how to let the group resolve issues on their own.

All groups have the potential to be dysfunctional: incapable of achieving goals. This is because each person is different, and each group has their own unique history. A facilitator must know how to recognize signs of group dysfunction, and be skilled to address them. In this module, we will discuss three ways to address group dysfunction: setting ground rules, restatement and reframing issues and keeping the discussion on track.

In general, facilitators neither inject themselves in issues nor direct the flow of discussion; they merely go where the group wants to go.  There are occasions, however, when stronger responses are needed to make the group more functional and productive. In this module, we will discuss what these stronger responses are, why they are necessary, and when is it appropriate to use them.

We have more information about Facilitation Skills available in our Resource Centre

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