What Is Facilitation?

The Purpose, Blog, thepurpose.co

By Dawn Hoenie

People often ask me "What do you do for work?" I tell them I'm a facilitator and a coach and then we usually have a chat about what facilitation means... My colleagues and I find that many people around the globe are uncertain about what Facilitation actually is. So, here's some info to help paint a clearer picture of what it is - and though it's not the be-all-and-end-all of definitions, it's a piece that could be helpful for better understanding what facilitation is.

WHAT IS FACILITATION?

facilitation

fəsɪlɪˈteɪʃn/

noun

  1. the action of facilitating something.

"Our organization needed 3rd party facilitation to help us create and promote a healthy workplace. We created a purpose & culture so we could work better together as a team, stop competing with each other and get on successfully with our tasks! The facilitation kept us on track."

Facilitation is a process that people use to add content, process, and structure to meet the needs of an individual, group or team. In an overall description, facilitation comes from the latin facile and means "to make easy", facilitation is often used to guide a group of people to achieve their goal or purpose.

Facilitation is provided by a person, called a facilitator, who guides pairs of people or groups to work collaboratively to accomplish their objectives. The facilitator has the "behind the scenes" skills to help the group meet their objectives and keep them on track. The facilitator adopts the role of enabling participants to take responsibility and to take a lead on delivering outcomes.  Guiding the group towards its own agreed destination, the facilitator is a process guide, whilst participants create the content.

WHY USE FACILITATION?

 "Facilitation enables collaboration and great results!"

"Facilitation enables collaboration and great results!"

  • CREATE BETTER OUTCOMES

Poor outcomes are created by lack of planning, no consensus, and zero follow up – all effects of poor collaboration. Facilitation supports you to avoid these issues by engaging people to reach decisions together and commit to an action plan.

  • SWIFT & SHARP

Lots of time is wasted in meetings that fail to meet the purpose! You spend time and money when your group comes together for a meeting or activity. Facilitated sessions support your group to be interactive, engaged, and committed to action. Millions of dollars are spent every year in meetings that are run ineffectively.  Make sure your meetings are effective & productive!

  • INTERACTION

Facilitation skills help you design highly-interactive, highly-successful, and energizing meetings that start and end well. Transform the way you meet and together and transform your business.

  • STOP WASTING TIME & MONEY ON YOUR MEETINGS

-Your group meets without a clear purpose or a clearly designed process to achieve the desired outcome = waste.

-Your participants show lack of engagement, little focus, zero motivation to take action and contribute ideas and solutions = waste.

-You spend many hours on circular discussions that go nowhere compounded by mis-alignment and challenging group behaviors that are not productive = waste.

-Your group meets, goes off track from what the meeting was actually scheduled for and you need to create another meeting = waste.

 

WHO? 

A facilitator is someone who engages in the activity of facilitation. They help a group of people get clear on their common objectives, how they need will work together, and assist them to plan what they need to do to achieve their objectives. In doing so, the facilitator remains "neutral" - meaning he/she does not take a position in the discussion or get involved with the content. 

 

HOW?

A variety of skills and personal qualities are required to be an effective facilitator.  The basic skills of a facilitator are about following good meeting practices: timekeeping, following an agreed-upon agenda, capturing a clear record and an action plan. The more advanced skills involve watching the group and its individuals in light of group dynamics and group development cycles.  In addition, facilitators need to have a variety of listening skills, the ability to summarize accurately, enable participation, ensure everyone has a voice, and "guard" the group's purpose & culture. Another important emphasis is on the attitude, behaviors and presence of the facilitator.  It is critical to the facilitator's role to have the knowledge and skill to know when and how to intervene in a way that adds to the group's direction of achieving their purpose rather than taking away from it. 

An effective facilitator embodies respect for others and has a keen awareness of the many layers going on in a working group.

Facilitators require good understanding of processes - how to enable group decision-making, structuring agendas for appropriate results, problem-solving, managing energy levels, handle conflict, group development cycles, etc. Groups depend on Facilitators to help guide them and focus their discussion. 

A facilitators blend of skills, approaches and experience play a major role in their success, but it's the person-centered, human traits - the internal qualities that lie within - that are the ones that make a huge impact.

You can hire an external facilitator or get facilitation training for yourself and your teams to work more collaboratively, efficiently and have more fun whilst meeting your purpose!