The chief difficulty in meetings is to arrive at a consensus because of disagreements within the members of the team. However, absence of disagreements does not guarantee that an effective consensus can be made. Effective consensus can be arrived when divergent views and competing goals are agreed upon as shared goals. Consensus building is often difficult and challenging; but it can be made possible when facilitated by an outside neutral party such as a facilitator.
A facilitator usually being an outsider has no stake to the outcome of the meeting. He will be able to assist in management’s conversation by laying the essential ground rules and intervening only when ground rules are violated. The facilitator sets the ground rules before the start of the discussion, reminds the team of their common goals and its significance, and help the group reach their decisions by respecting each other’s views. It is the members of the group who collect information, formulate ideas, take responsibility and defend their views. However, the facilitator is the chief catalyst in building a consensus merely by his presence and essential intervention. The outcome of the meeting i.e. the shared goals is achieved by the collaborative effort and personal agenda of the team.
The significance of the facilitator in consensus building can be attributed to facilitating the members of the meeting:
The facilitator helps the ‘talk, listen and decide’ sequence go right which is essential for consensus building. The facilitator guides the whole process of consensus building without voicing his opinion or contributing his knowledge on the content under discussion. The facilitator is well aware that the responsibility of arriving at a consensus lies in the hands members of the meeting and his role is only to make the process go easy.