The word facilitator is derived from the Latin “facilis”, or easy; an adjective formed from the verb “facere”, or to do. Facilitation means the act of making something easier, or helping someone to achieve something. It combines the dimensions of both enabling and empowering people – it does not mean doing it for them.
At Leading Teams we pride ourselves on being ‘world’s best’ facilitators. But what does that really mean; what does ‘world’s best’ look like in action?
The skills of a facilitator
Firstly, you need to be passionate about facilitation and the Leading Teams model as a means to help teams to improve their performance.
Our role as facilitators is to support and make it easier; to enable and empower teams to build stronger professional relationships, communicate more openly, align to team expectations, effectively address work place challenges / issues and plan and review team and individual performances. All of this is designed to assist in the successful delivery and achievement of strategy, KPIs, roles and sustainable long term team and organisational high performance.
The skills required to be the ‘world’s best’ facilitators are on a different level to those of a trainer. You need an in-depth understanding of group ‘dynamics’: how people work together e.g. behaviour, communicate, personalities, leadership etc. The willingness and ability to ask questions and to listen, process the responses and then think on your feet to decide, what’s next? Is it an answer, another question, a story, a model or a break? A resistance to ‘tell’ or judge but to be able to understand, show empathy and challenge where appropriate.
Be able to go with the flow
Flexibility is another key component to ‘world’s best’ facilitation, both from a planning perspective and in the moment, being open to going with responses you may not have expected from your questions. Sticking to or relying on an agenda is what poor facilitators will do when under pressure or when looking to avoid what they have just heard; a ‘world’s best’ Leading Teams facilitator is not afraid to address what is presented to them and take the team to a deeper level of openness, trust, understanding, collaboration and performance. Flexibility still allows for you to facilitate the group towards the agreed outcomes of the session, but a ‘world’s best’ facilitator knows there will be various ways to get there.
Building strong professional relationships with our clients, in particular with the leaders and key centres of influence within the team or organisation, is critical in order to build trust. Chatting to them during sessions and taking an interest in them during breaks is all part of strengthening the relationship. This allows for clients to feel safe to open up and put real concerns on the table, to confide in the facilitator when needed and for the facilitator to be seen as a valued resource to assist improvement.
Be open and share
Leading Teams facilitators are all willing and able to share their personal experiences within teams, to share stories and models that are relevant to the discussions and issues at the time. The facilitator’s ability to engage people with relevant, honest stories linked to leadership or team performance models and the client’s current challenge is critical as this enables the team / individuals to receive greater insights, fast-track learnings and achieve the desired outcomes from the facilitated sessions.
Self-talk, your internal dialogue, reflects your level of self- belief. ‘World’s best’ facilitators see themselves and talk to themselves using strong, positive language that reflects that they are the best. Clearly, they also do the work, prepare and behave as ‘world’s best’. They seek feedback about their facilitation on a regular basis, both from clients at the end of sessions and from their peers, which is then built into their next sessions.
Another key characteristic of a ‘world’s best’ facilitator is resilience, as it can be a tough, draining, challenging job so your ability to reflect on why, and work through those days, puts you in strong position mentally to make your next session the best yet. On the flip side, being a ‘world’s best facilitator’ is rewarding when you know you have been able to take a team to a higher level of performance that they may never have achieved without you
Finally, a ‘world’s best’ facilitator knows that they are in control of the session. They take responsibility for the choices they make before, during and after a session. They review with rigour, get honest feedback about their performance and look forward to their next day of facilitation.
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a Leading Teams facilitator? We want to hear from you.