What Is Expected of You in a Facilitator Role?
Let’s start by defining facilitation in general terms. What exactly is the process of facilitating? Merriam Webster Dictionary offers this definition: “to make easier : help bring about and nurture growth.” They explain that the act of facilitation is put in place to guide through the process of progress. A facilitator is expected to define a process for the group that is in line with the goal of the group. As the group moves through the defined process, the facilitator should be observing closely and intervening if the group starts to deviate from the clearly outlined goals. It is extremely important to remain objective and neutral during the entire process. A facilitator is not supposed to make definite decisions like a boss would. They are there to guide the group through thought processes in order to come to their own conclusions. Whether the facilitator comes from inside or outside of the company, it is important for them to practice neutrality.
In a group setting, often one member or a few members from the group take the lead. Sometimes, because of this, the ideas of other members are lost in the process. The job of a facilitator is to make sure all group members are heard and they are able to voice their complete ideas. This allows the conclusion to include the most constructive information from the entire group. Therefore, the conclusion is more just and informed.
The Complexity of the Facilitator Role
A facilitator role has many different facets of operation including: understanding, organization, attention to detail, concision, communication, etc. However, the role can be more generally defined as a two step process. Step one is to map out an agenda for the group meeting that is seamlessly aligned with the group objectives. The second is to guide and control the clearly and strategically designed agenda. When put this way, the facilitator role seems less intimidating. However, the great importance of this role should not be overlooked. A facilitator is supposed to not only design and guide but throughout guiding it is necessary that they have the skills to recognize value. They capture the valuable information in the group discussions and collect it in order to process it in a way that contributes to the overall goals of the group. They are there to see the group as a whole so the group members can focus on their own ideas. The facilitator can take a look at the bigger picture and how the ideas are all related.
We came across an informative article that explains who a facilitator is and what they are expected to do by The Mind Tools Content Team. In The Role of a Facilitator – Guiding an Event Through to a Successful Conclusion, they offer clear definitions of the role of facilitation as well as tips to become an effective facilitator:
So you’ve been asked to facilitate a meeting. What does that mean exactly?
Do you just ensure everyone’s introduced, and maybe kick off with a quick ice breaker exercise? Is your main role simply to stand by the flip chart and note down all the ideas? What preparation do you need to do? How do you manage the event, and how exactly do you pull the whole thing together?
In many types of group situations, and particularly in complex discussions or those where people have different views and interests, good facilitation can make the difference between success and failure.
As a facilitator, you may need to call on a wide range of skills and tools, from problem solving and decision making, to team management and communications.
Very best wishes for your every success,
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