Facilitation skills are a provision of opportunities and resources that support a group to succeed in achieving its desired goals. The word ‘facilitate’ comes from a Latin which means ‘to make easy’. It is the art of focusing the collective group energy on a specific goal. It is a diverse field which relies on facilitators who have a broad collection of facilitation skills and approaches.
A facilitator is a person whose role is to guide people through the process to a successful result. This process could be a meeting, training and development session, team building or any situation involving a group of people where the desired goals or targets have to be met. A facilitator contributes structure and processes to interactions so groups are able to function efficiently and make high quality decisions.
Facilitation skills are essential to successful team and group work. That means it is also critical to the company’s success, especially given the presence of conflict in today’s time. While conflict may at first seem destructive and not very comfortable, it can be very creative. But conflict needs effective management so that it remains part of a creative rather than destructive process. This is where effective facilitation skills are extremely helpful to keep the team on track, keep the relationships intact to successfully achieve business outcomes.
Everyone in the company benefits from good facilitation skills. Those that benefit the most from them are more likely to be team leaders and supervisors. Facilitation skills enable a team to arrive at satisfactory outcomes with different agendas and varied chosen outcomes.
Steps to achieve effective facilitation skills:-
Facilitation helps everyone to feel that they worked together to achieve the best possible outcome of the task. Clearly facilitation has an important role to play in the success of any business. Furthermore, facilitation skills can also help team members to understand how to improve their business communication. When learning how to improve speaking skills and presentation skills, facilitation skills are important. Here are the steps to achieve effective facilitation skills
1. Set the ground rules
Always begin by setting the objectives. Having an outline structure and time for reflection is very helpful. Start by helping the group to clarify an outcome that is practical to achieve in the given time and aim to create an environment of trust and confidentiality.
2. Always be impartial
The challenge is to influence the group and not dominate it. This means being able to suppress your own ideas and encouraging others to talk. A facilitator needs to only encourage the group to consider his/her ideas not as a dictator.
3. Understand group dynamics
The key is to unlocking the group’s potential to achieve its goal because this is where one can get into the interaction between group members. It is important to make use of questions to clarify, concentrate on the emotional temperament and try to read the body language for any answers.
4. Use your own personality
A facilitator’s role is being all about the energy and confidence with which he or she brings their facilitation skills forward. To create an open and honest environment, people need an empathic personal presence and the group needs to respect and believe in you. They also need to feel confident that a facilitator will be able to deal with any obstacle and guide them in the right direction.
5. Intervene only when necessary
It is important to continuously notice what is going on with the group and then decide what to do about it. A challenging group can be tricky to handle. Facilitator may need to ask difficult questions which might draw attention to difficult process issues which the group may find uncomfortable to deal with sometimes.
6. Handling tough situations
Dealing with difficult people and conflict are two of the major challenges to an effective facilitation. With conflict, there are tactics and skills that one can develop to respond to such situations because success is often determined by how an issue is addressed. If one comes across a tough individual, one may choose to confront that person in private and give them feedback their impact on the group.
7. The art to practice
Having good facilitation skills is an art and not a science. The skills that are involved – good observation and listening, observing body language, understanding human psychology, can all be achieved through continuous practice. The more we practice our facilitation skills, the more comfortable we will become as a facilitator.
The importance of facilitation skills:-
Organizations today, are in need of people with great facilitation skills because without them, they risk reaching a stagnation point. That is not likely to be the most favorable outcome for anyone involved, and it is here that facilitation skills prove their worth. It is surprisingly easy to fall into the trap where organizations ignore the need for an effective facilitation and therefore fail to consider all the possibilities. This can be extremely damaging to organizations that have the potential to develop a rich culture without any challenges or fear of the repercussions.
Without effective facilitation skills, one will find it hard to find creativity within the group. This is because these key skills help team members understand how to present a presentation appropriately to the needs of their audience and how to communicate a message in an appeasing manner.
Benefits of facilitation skills to the organization:-
Having effective working relationships with people at work can be tricky to manage. Effective group facilitation requires certain abilities to manage the interaction of challenging conversations. These abilities help a great deal to the organization as a whole.
- There is more productivity. Having a facilitator with good facilitation skills guide the process provides focus and a sense of deliberateness to the conversation.
- Saves time. By investing in a facilitator, you will actually spend less time in both meetings and doing damage control outside the meeting.
- Having better outcomes. The facilitator ensures that all opinions are heard and that there is no process loss. A good facilitator aims for a collaborative harmony, which the decision has been thoroughly discussed and everyone is willing to support and live with it.
- Increased commitment from the team. A facilitator should believe that the answer lies within the collective intelligence of the team with which the probability of successful completion increases dramatically.
- Having less stress. Facilitators focus on the process the employees do not have to. One can fully engage in the content of the discussion knowing that the facilitator is familiar to all aspects of the team process.
- Ability to create better relationships. At the end of the day, people not only wants to feel good about the outcomes achieved but also feel good about the people they worked with. Facilitators with their facilitation skills are great at managing the team dynamics to ensure a collaborative and supportive environment.
Benefits of good facilitation to the employees:-
1. Clear communication of the strategy in the direction of the organization
To ensure that an employee’s career goals are in sync with the company’s goals, the organization needs to be open about its strategy and future directions from the very beginning. Employees cannot be in charge of their career and make good career decisions if they do not understand where their organization is going.
2. Learning about new opportunities within the organization
Most employees find it easier to leave their present organization to gain better and new experiences and build their portfolio of skills than to take a new role within the same organization. Senior management can assist in changing this behavior by promoting and facilitating internal transfers. Moving to different functions can help build a girth of knowledge of the organization that will help individuals build good leadership skills.
3. Proactively managing opportunities for high potential employees
Most people learn through their experiences, so getting access to development opportunities is the key to keep the employees engaged. However, more often than not, access to good opportunities is mostly dependent on being in the right place at the right time or hearing about the opportunity before others. While considering our most valuable employees, it is important to be determined in their development and to plan for key experiences that will help to develop the facilitation skills they need to become good leaders.
4. Help employees customize their career
Employees who are the most able to attract different phases in their lives which allows them to ramp up or ramp down during different events going on in their personal and professional lives.
5. Clear articulation of expectations at different levels
Employees often get frustrated when they do not know how to get ahead in work or how to develop themselves for the future. By being clear about their performance expectations for the future, employees will be able to more accurately self-assess if they have what it takes to move ahead in their organization. Sometimes employees may have an inaccurate perception of their ability to succeed in the organization, and having clear expectations will help managers with the same situation.
Facilitation can take a lot of mental effort, meaning that it can be difficult to think about and contribute content at the same time while facilitating. Neutrality is also very important. As an effective facilitator, one must know when to take a leadership role, and when to be neutral and sit back. The key is to be proficient in the given role and guide the proceedings effectively and to remain focused on the group process rather than specific opinions. Facilitation is an important role to take on and facilitation skills are greatly rewarding.