Many people view meetings as a dreaded evil to avoid at all costs. Far too little gets accomplished, much of the discussion is unfocused and unproductive, and a lot of time is wasted. If you lead important group meetings, you know how difficult it can be to get a group engaged from the beginning, keep them focused and on track, deal with difficult personalities and dysfunctional behavior, build consensus when people disagree, and ensure full commitment for follow through. A facilitator uses facilitated sessions as a tool for addressing these issues.

A facilitated session is…

  • a highly structured meeting which guides the participants through a series of predefined steps to arrive at a result created, understood and accepted by all participants.

The role of the facilitator is to…

  • use interactions and techniques that engage the hearts, minds and souls of the participants in the work.

Facilitators are able to help participants excel as a team in focusing on issues, building common vision and committing to the actions to bring that vision into reality!

When Should You Use A Facilitator?

  1. Critical Results. If the results of the meeting are critical to the success of the enterprise, and there will be a variety of views in the room, consider using a facilitator.
  2. Strong Opinions. If there are many strong opinions in the room that require a consensus, consider using a facilitator.
  3. No Good Answers. If it appears there are no good answers and the situation calls for new, creative solutions, consider using a facilitator.
  4. You are Vested. If you, the meeting leader, are strongly vested in a particular position, but want to be open to other possible alternatives, consider using a facilitator.
  5. Team Ownership Required. If the team – not just one or two people – needs to feel ownership of the solution, consider using a facilitator.
  6. Neutral Party Needed. If a neutral party will best guide the discussion to engender trust or participation, consider using a facilitator.
  7. Lack of Expertise. If there is a lack of experience or expertise in managing a group through the work process (e.g., strategic planning), consider using a facilitator.
  8. Undefined Approach. If the product of the meeting or the work process to create the product is unclear or ill-defined, consider using a facilitator.

If you have to consider two or more of these items, definitely USE A FACILITATOR!

When Should You NOT Use a Facilitator?

Finally, it’s also important to understand the circumstances when it doesn’t make sense to engage a facilitator. You do not need a facilitator when:

  1. The decision is already made.
  2. Decision makers are not open to alternatives other than their own.
  3. The meeting is information only and requires no engagement of the group.
  4. The group is very small.
  5. There is a commonality of opinion on how to proceed.

Meetings are expensive. When you have the right facilitator with the corresponding skill set you tremendously enhance the quality of your meeting deliverables and make them much more cost-effective.

Leadership Strategies offers facilitators with a wide range of specialty areas, including strategic planning, teambuilding, boardroom facilitation, facilitating IT sessions, etc.

Or, if you would like to enhance your facilitation skills, consider attending one of our upcoming Effective Facilitator courses. We also conduct customized onsite training to fit your specific needs. Contact us for details.