Effective Facilitation Skills Leaders Should Develop
Leaders need to have many areas of expertise. Some of the most important abilities that are imperative for leaders to work on developing are effective facilitation skills.
Mastering facilitation skills can help you make the most of the resources that you have at hand by maximizing the contribution made by each of your team members within team sessions and therefore reaching all your goals effectively and efficiently.
What Is a Facilitator?
As a facilitator you are there to help to guide your team, encouraging the processes of communication and problem solving in order to meet all the objectives of each, and all, of your team sessions. It is very important to take a neutral stance and encourage participants to voice their opinions and ideas.
A leader should use effective facilitation skills that encourage each team member to play an active part in the process and also feel that their individual contributions are valued.
A facilitator’s job includes:
“One who contributes structure and process to interactions so groups are able to function effectively and make high-quality decisions. A helper and enabler whose goal is to support others as they achieve exceptional performance.” – Ingrid Bens
Effective Facilitation Skills
Every facilitator has their own individual style and there are numerous skills that you should try and develop to ensure smooth running and constructive sessions. Below are just a few of the areas that you can work on mastering.
It is vital that you take the time to prepare and plan your session so that you have clear guidelines to follow throughout. Many professional facilitators will spend at least twice as long planning a session that the actual duration on the session itself.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Some things that you need to consider when planning your session are:
- Your end objective of the session
- How long the session is to last and whether it is enough time to meet your goal.
- Who is on your team – along with their individual personalities, strengths and weaknesses.
- Whether you will need any visual aids or other materials for the session
Having good communication skills are essential for a facilitator as you need to be able to clearly convey the objectives of the session and the guidelines which the team should follow in order to meet them.
Effective facilitation skills include encouraging constructive communication from all team members while making sure that the team does not divert off topic, rather stays focused on reaching the objective.
One of the most productive facilitation techniques that you can use to encourage communication is by asking questions using the GROW model.
GROW is the acronym for:
- Goal – You clarify the end goal/objective of the session at the beginning..
- Current Reality – Stating where you currently are at in the process of meeting the goal.
- Options – What decisions/actions that you need to articulate to reach it.
- Will – Creating an action plan to reach the final objective.
Read more about the GROW model along with 70 awesome questions in this article:
To ensure that all team members are on the same page throughout the session you need to use facilitation techniques such as active listening and repeating each individual member’s reply.
You can either do this by mirroring the reply, which means to repeat verbatim, or by paraphrasing it so saying it again but in your own words. This helps to ensure that everyone understands what has been said along with keeping the communication flowing and encouraging it further.
Also make sure that each member is given the time to fully answer and has done talking before you start to respond.
“The most difficult component of listening effectively is waiting for a period at the end of a sentence before formulating a reply” says Leslie Shore, author of Listen to Succeed.
“When we begin working on a reply before the speaker is finished, we lose both the complete information being offered and an understanding of the kind of emotion present in the speaker’s delivery,”
An effective facilitator should ensure that they keep precise minutes of what has been said throughout the session. They should make sure that they accurately record keywords, ideas and outcomes so that they can refer back to them at a later date.
Teams will always have a variety of personalities and a good facilitator will ensure that each team member is equally involved in the process. This will include making sure that dominant members are kept in check and don’t totally dominate the session, along with encouraging the quieter more timid members of the team, so that they are given adequate opportunity to voice their opinions throughout the session.
Final Thoughts on Effective Facilitation Skills
Becoming an effective facilitator does take time and practice and you need to be constantly open to developing your effective facilitation skills along with learning new ones. Each session that you participate in will likely to be different therefore helping you in this process, also you may well benefit from participating in a structured facilitation course.
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Very best wishes for your every success,
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