THE FACILITATOR: THE MISSING PERSON IN THE ROOM AMONG DECISION MAKERS

When we speak of the Facilitator and Facilitation we often refer to the Merriam–Webster definition as a way to introduce the person and process. Here in this definition it states that the Facilitator’s role is to promote the resolution of conflict or to enhance a response towards a decision. Facilitation on the other hand, refers to the context of management especially in organisational development (OD), as the actual design and running of a successful session (meeting, discussion) by using a consensus based method in an impartial environment. There are many kinds of facilitations but in essence, it often refers to having the session in groups, which is a process where an individual acceptable to be part of a group intervenes to assist the group in solving problems and making decisions to improve productivity and efficiency but who has no authority to make decisions.

Very frequently we see good facilitators are able to close the gap between meetings that are ho-hum, clueless or misdirected by producing a high performance team that can make transformational change.  They can also make the difference between meetings that are status quo and those that produce high performance groups and transformational change.

Facilitators are responsible for "how" the meeting goes and this is often referred to as the "process." The process is categorized into two parts: tasks and relationships.  They are:-

Task responsibilities:

·                Agenda setting

·                Regulating time frames

·                Establishing behavioural guidelines

·                Idea generation techniques

·                Decision-making methods

·                Problem-solving steps

·                Reaching agreement

 

Relationship responsibilities:

·                Participation

·                Inclusion

·                Power dynamics

·                Influence factors

·                Dysfunctional behaviours

·                Problem members and

·                Anger management

The Facilitator

The effectiveness of a facilitator relies on his/her knowledge skills, and individual characteristics or behavioural competencies. It’s not enough to simply make a good presentation. Expert facilitators have a full complement of competencies, and these are grouped by major category, knowledge, skills, and behaviours.

In Liana Downey’s book “Mission Control, How Nonprofits and Governments Can Focus, Achieve More, and Change the World,” she presents a list of questions about what to look for in a facilitator:

§  Does the person have experience?

§  Does the person ask good questions? Look for intelligent, thoughtful questions that generate insight or signal a real interest.

§  Does the person “get to you”? Does the prospective consultant recognize the unique things about the team or organization?

§  Does the person speak in clear language?

§  Will the person plan with you or for you?

§  Do previous clients speak highly of the person?

§  Does the person have long standing relationships with clients?

A lot of what the facilitator does or does not do, is dependent on their knowledge and skills.  Such knowledge is observed by how they demonstrate and test assumptions, concepts, principles, procedures, and processes. As for their skills, it can be seen by how they demonstrate their observation to the process or evaluation and eventually the outcome. Some of these observations can be tested by how they do the following:

o  Verbally communicate

o  Nonverbal communications, such as body posture, gestures, and facial expressions

o  Thinking in terms of systems, so as to see interrelationships among participants’ input by recognising the connecting patterns

o  How they planning learning activities

o  The operating equipment used in training

o  What they write on the flip charts and what they record in terms of  participants’ comments

o  How they listen actively and effectively

o  Their ability to summarise and paraphrase participants input

o  When they provide coaching and feedback.

Thus, a facilitator that is often regarded as good it’s because of how they were able to make things look easy during the session. The skill is in making things connect and seem comprehensible. In truth, there is a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes and a lot of thinking on their feet. 

REFERENCES

 1. [http://www.makethingshappen.net/nonprofit-succession/nonprofit-succession-services/succession-facilitation-for-nonprofits]

2. Liana Downey’s book “Mission Control, How Nonprofits and Governments Can Focus, Achieve More, and Change the World. 2016.

THE ARTICLE

The rationale behind writing this article is to create an awareness among the NGO/Nonprofit Sector about the value of Facilitation and the Facilitator.

 

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

It is intended that the reader receives benefit from understanding what it takes to be a good facilitator and will be able to assess and ask specific questions pertaining to the Facilitator and Facilitation.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Sudeep Mohandas is the Co-Founder/Managing Director of I First International (www.ifirstinternational.com)