Why do I keep yammering on about facilitation?

Gretchen Steenstra | 03.24.15
Topics: Project Management

6122020531_23bb310cca_z.jpg

Some years ago, I was first introduced to formal facilitation while working on a project at a client site (and I’ve been a promoter ever since – just check out my toolbox). The organization has in internal training program to provide formal project management and facilitation training to staff to strengthen the skills of project teams. I learned many useful tips for being part of a team with a formal facilitator leading a discussion.  

As I have developed my professional skills during my career, the most valuable have been skills to help people communicate with each other. I know this is a big cliché, but it’s true. I decided to take an in-depth course on this practice. I attended The Effective Facilitator course – it is one of the most practical courses I have attended.

What is the difference between a project manager, a business analyst, and a facilitator?

Aren’t they the same?

  • The focus of a facilitator is to help groups come to consensus and agreement. The facilitator does not have a stake in the outcome – simply manage the process for people to work together to find agreement.
  • Business analysts gather requirements for projects, analyze the needs, and develop solutions.
  • Project managers are the conductors who make sure they have a clear direction, the right resources for the project, and keep it moving.

For major projects, it is very helpful to have all three roles to support a project.

What does a facilitator DO?

A facilitator performs many functions – some listed below – that wouldn’t be fair to heap on another team member, especially since facilitators are, by nature and necessity, neutral.

  • Set up the meeting to ensure the group has the best opportunity for a successful meeting
  • Prepare the ground rules, agenda, and goals for the meeting
  • Work with a group to uncover all options
  • Work with a group to build agreement
  • A facilitator stands for the entire meeting (wear comfortable shoes!)
  • They do not contribute content or opinions
  • They write down EXACTLY what is said

WHY do we do this?

We have all been in meetings where a group of people is trying to make a decision and at the end of the meeting nothing is accomplished. It’s exhausting and morale can take a real hit. Everyone feels tired and frustrated and thinks, “Nothing was done and now I have to go to ANOTHER meeting.” 

Facilitators help establish the goals of the meeting and guide the group to a decision. It sounds simple – and it IS with the right training. A trained facilitator will be able to:

  • Accelerate performance 
  • Focus on finding agreement
  • Include a neutral person to lead the meeting
  • Inform, excite, empower and involve staff

Tune in next time when we discuss how YOUR organization can benefit from facilitation.

Flickr photo by Stellajo1976

About Gretchen Steenstra

A PMP and Professional Facilitator, Gretchen has more tricks up her sleeve than she has, well, sleeves! Extremely active in the association community, you'll find her just about everywhere—from ASAE to AMS Fest. Lucky for us, you can also find her here on The DelCor Connection.

Enjoy learning? Read more posts like this!

Give me more

20-POINT CHECK

Peek into your org's IT Maturity with our self-assessment

RESOURCE LIBRARY

Find our best events, white papers, and more.

READY TO TALK?

In a fix, intrigued, or can't find what you're looking for?