September 4, 2014 Leave a comment
- Assuming: Simply because the facilitator hears what was said does not imply everyone heard what was said. The key to active listening is thorough reflection. Whether it’s audio (i.e., spoken) or visual (i.e., written down), the facilitator’s roleistoensure common understanding, not assume that common understanding exists simplybecausesomethingwas spoken.
- Modifiers: Nouns and verbs are a facilitator’s friend. Modifier such as adjectives and adverbs cause dissent. For example, we may all be eating the same bowl of chili, but it may be both hot (i.e., spicy) and not so hot to different people, both correct in their assessment. Most arguments are caused by how spicy the chili is, not by whether or not it is chili.
- Neutrality (or lack thereof): A session leader who offers content and judgment appears to the participants to have the “answer”. They will go quiet as they listen to what the leader believes to be true, comparing and contrasting the espoused point of view with their own truth. In the role of facilitator, do not offer up or evaluate content during the session.
- Plurality: Ask one question at a time. Do not try to facilitate more than one issue at once. Close it out before moving on to the next issue. Most groups will succeed if they are facilitated to a position where the issue is clear and properly managed, one issue at a time.
- Precision: Prefer substance to style. Avoid impersonal pronouns such as it, this, and those. Speak clearly and substitute words like “bunch” or “lots” for consultese like “plethora.” Strive to speak in a manner that would be understood by your grandmothers.
- Processing: Session leaders that analyze the content fill their minds with analysis that places a large stress on their ability to hear what others are saying. Analyzing participant input makes it very difficult to provide comprehensive reflection of what was said.
- Unprepared: There is no secret or “silver bullet” to effective facilitation if the session leader shows up ill prepared. Aside from active listening, with a strong emphasis on reflection, there aren’t any skills to help a facilitator during a session who shows up unprepared.
Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.
Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills
The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).
Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.