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Understanding Facilitation


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For LTEC 4000: Module 8 - Facilitation Strategies, Tools, and Overview

Bens, I. (2012). Facilitating with ease! Core skills for facilitators, team leaders and members, managers, consultants, and trainers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (ISBN: 9781118107744) Course syllabus Reference: (Bens)

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Understanding Facilitation

  1. 1. Module 8: Understanding Facilitation
  2. 2. Facilitation Foundation • Facilitation is a way of providing leadership without “taking the reins” • As a facilitator, your job is to get others to assume responsibility and to take the lead.
  3. 3. Facilitation Foundation: • Rather than being a player, a facilitator acts more like a referee. • You watch the action, more than participate in it. • You control which activities happen. • You “keep your finger on the pulse” and know when to move on or wrap things up. • Most important, you help members define and reach their goals.
  4. 4. FACILITATORS CONTRIBUTE BY… • Helping the group define its overall goal, as well as its specific objective(s) • Helping individuals assess their needs and create plans to meet them • Providing processes that help people use their time efficiently • Guiding group discussion to keep it on track • Making accurate notes that reflect the ideas of members (paraphrase) • Helping the group to work more effectively
  5. 5. • Making sure that people’s assumptions are surfaced and tested • Supporting people in assessing their current skills, as well as building new skills • Using consensus to help a group make decisions that take all members’ opinions into account
  6. 6. • Providing feedback to the group, so that they can assess their progress and make adjustments • Managing conflict using a collaborative approach • Helping the group communicate effectively
  7. 7. Facilitators make their contribution by: • Helping the group access resources from inside and outside of the group • Creating an environment in which members enjoy a positive, growing experience • Fostering leadership in others by sharing the leadership role
  8. 8. To be a facilitator, you must firmly believe that: • People are intelligent, capable and want to do the right thing • Groups can make better decisions than any one person can make alone • “Two heads are better than one” • Everyone’s opinion is of equal value, regardless of rank or position • People are more committed to the ideas and plans that they have helped to create
  9. 9. To be a facilitator, you must firmly believe that: • Participants can and will act responsibly and assume accountability for decisions • Groups can manage their own conflicts, behaviors and relationships if they are given the right tools and direction • The facilitation process, if well designed and effectively applied, can be trusted to achieve results
  10. 10. Facilitation Definitions
  11. 11. A facilitator is… • One who contributes structure and process to interactions so groups are able to function effectively and all individuals are encouraged to contribute/participate; and • A helper and enabler whose goal is to support others as they develop their full potential.
  12. 12. A process is… • The structure, framework, methods and tools used in interactions.
  13. 13. An intervention is: • An action or set of actions that aims to improve the functioning of a group.
  14. 14. A group is: • A collection of individuals who come together to share information, coordinate their efforts, or achieve a task.
  15. 15. A team is: • A group of individuals who are committed to achieving a common goal, who support each other, who fully utilize member resources, and who have closely linked roles.
  16. 16. Facilitation Tools: 14 Core Practices
  17. 17. Stay neutral on content – Your job is to focus on the process role and avoid the temptation of offering opinions about the topic under discussion. – You should use questions and suggestions to offer ideas that spring to mind, but never impose opinions on the group.
  18. 18. Listen actively – Look people in the eye – Use attentive body language – Paraphrase what people say – Summarize key ideas
  19. 19. Use eye contact – While people are speaking – When paraphrasing what they have just said – When summarizing their key ideas – Let people know they can speak next – Prompt the quiet ones in the crowd to participate
  20. 20. Ask questions – This is the most important tool you possess – Questions test assumptions, invite participation, gather information and probe for hidden points. – Effective questioning allows you to delve past the symptoms and get at the “root cause”.
  21. 21. Paraphrase to clarify – This involves repeating what people say to: • make sure they know they are being heard • let others hear their points a second time • clarify key ideas – “Are you saying…?” – “Am I understanding you to mean…?”
  22. 22. Synthesize ideas – Don’t just record individual ideas of participants. – Instead, get people to comment and build on each other’s thoughts to ensure that the ideas recorded represent collective thinking. – This builds consensus and commitment. – “Alice, what would you add to Jeff’s comments?”
  23. 23. Stay on track – Set time guidelines for each discussion – Appoint a time keeper inside the group to call out milestones. – Point out the digression if discussion has veered off topic. – “Park” all off-topic comments and suggestions on a separate “Parking Lot” sheet posted on a nearby wall to be dealt with later.
  24. 24. Give and receive feedback – Periodically “hold up a mirror” to help the group “see” it6self so it can make corrections. • “Only two people are involved in this discussion, while others are sitting silently. How can we shift the leadership so everyone will contribute?” – Ask for and accept feedback about the facilitation. • “Are we making progress?” • “How’s the pace?” • “What can I do to be more effective?”
  25. 25. Test assumptions – You need to bring the assumptions people are operating under out into the open and clarify them, so that they are clearly understood by everyone. – These assumptions may even need to be challenged before a group can explore new ground. • “John, on what basis are you making the comment that Sarah’s idea is too narrow to be considered an option?”
  26. 26. Collect ideas – Keep track of both emerging ideas and final decisions. – Make clear and accurate summaries on a flipchart, writing board, or electric board so everyone can see the notes. – Notes should be brief and concise. – They must always reflect what the participants said, rather than your interpretation of what they said.
  27. 27. Summarize clearly – A great facilitator listens attentively to everything that is said, and then offers concise and timely summaries. – Summarize when you want to revive a discussion that has ground to a halt or to end a discussion when things seem to be wrapping up.
  28. 28. Redirect – It is your responsibility to let the group members know when they are “off track”. – They can then decide to pursue the sidetrack, or stop their current discussion and get back to the agenda. • “We are now discussing something that is not on the agenda. What does the group want to do?”
  29. 29. Hold questions/ideas – At every session, tape a flip chart sheet to a wall to record all side track items. – Later, these items can be reviewed for inclusion in a future agenda. – “Parking lot” sheets let you capture ideas that may be important later, while still staying on track.
  30. 30. Offer room for errors – Most people are nervous enough about writing on flip charts/boards without having to worry that they are spelling every word right. – You will relax everyone by drawing a “spell- check button” at the top right corner of every flip sheet. – Tell participants they can spell “creatively”, since pressing the spell-check button automatically eliminates all errors.