Are You Making the Most of Your Team’s Ideas and Options? Facilitation is the Key to Unlocking Next Level Thinking

As human beings we all bring with us our own ideas and opinions often coloured by our personal and professional experiences. It’s part of what makes working in a team so energising.

Issues can arise however, when big ideas and thoughts come crashing over the top of one another, making for great conversation but little decision-making and ultimately blocking progress. This is where team facilitation can help bring some order and process to the magical chaos of a team environment.

In this blog we look at the benefits of facilitation and some of the activities that are used in forming effective team discussion and idea creation when dealing with a raft of strong personalities.

There are several scenarios in which facilitation can be particularly beneficial:

· New teams coming together and wanting to bond quickly.

· Teams ambitious for “high performing team” status, but not quite getting there

· Project teams which require that people get on the same page early in the process.

· Critical times in the corporate calendar, such as new year launches or year-end reviews.

An expert in team facilitation, David Reddin believes that the greatest benefit to running a facilitation session is an immediate measure of team performance.

“The key point of team facilitation is to get a real-time view of how the team is performing, not just from their manager but from the inside out. Self-assessment is critical to the process and ensures buy-in from the team. Only then can you gain serious momentum,” he said.

David further believes that facilitation can make serious inroads to team communication, as they work through how to manage conflicting viewpoints through robust, yet respectful, discussion.

“These types of conversations are critical to team performance. They build respect and trust. Teams must understand that difficult conversations should not be left up to the leader. They are something everyone should be involved in, and it is possible when communication is open and transparent, to eliminate some of the ‘game play’ that can creep into the team environment at times,” he explained.

Something David uses facilitation techniques for is helping teams to become truly high performing.

“A high performing team is a team that is highly focused on their goals and that achieves superior business results, outperforming other similar teams and expectations.”

“A group of individuals with specific roles and complementary talents and skills, aligned to a common purpose, consistently showing elevated levels of collaboration and innovation, producing superior results, and extinguishing radical or extreme opinions that could be damaging.”

“The group is tight-knit, goal-focused, and have supportive processes that enable any team member to surmount barriers to goal achievement,” David explained.

“We use data-driven exercises to compare and contrast teams to see how they are performing, then work towards a goal on both individual and team levels based on the 8 characteristics of high performing teams.

1. Sense of purpose.

2. Open communications.

3. Trust and mutual respect.

4. Shared leadership.

5. Effective working procedures.

6. Able to build on differences.

7. Flexible and adaptable.

8. Continuous learning.

To get the most out of the session, planning is essential. David advocates for facilitators to meet with participants one-on-one prior to the group session. This allows the facilitator and participant space for individual assessment and questions. It also helps the facilitator to gain insights into how the session should be run.

“The more preparation the facilitator does, the better. Pre-work that is completed by the team members provides fantastic insights, but then must be cleansed prior to being presented in the workshop to ensure anonymity. However, often it will uncover where the team see themselves in terms of systems, talent, structure, and the pressures falling upon all the above. From here the real work begins with the aim of pulling the team closer and upward,” David said.

Just as important as the facilitator’s planning is the work put in by participants. David finds that removing teams from the office environment can help to make an impact.

“When we’re removed from our everyday work environment, it gives us the opportunity and permissions to really invest in ourselves and our team. The temptation to jump onto emails quickly is removed. I can honestly say that the more you put in, the more you get out of the session. I would say 90 percent of teams who go through this process with us, go on to do bigger and better things,” David said.

Some of the challenges David likes to give participants involves strategically pairing them with partners and watching them work (or not, as the case may be).

“While the exercises can be hard, seldom is anyone deliberately destructive. Exercises are carefully crafted around individuals and the challenges they face. We want to break down those walls to help make teams better together — truly high performing,” David explained.

The key is the facilitator and the type of session they run.

“You must have an experienced facilitator on board with you. They must have strong reflective listening skills, empathy, focus and most importantly, they must be able to call out poor behaviour when they see it.”

“Facilitation is a specific skill, where done right, can lift your team up and unlock some serious new potential,” he said.

David went on to say that, “although challenging and, at times, confronting, these programs need to include some fun activities that get team members working together to solve real life problems. They need to stretch their thinking but deliver a real outcome”.

David recalls one live-in program where participants were asked to be up at 6am, ready to embark on an early morning activity designed to foster understanding of each other between team members.

“We had them out in the bush, needing to cross a stream in the dark (a team exercise in itself!), and then split into designated pairs. Each had an envelope with a topic they had to explore with their partner, typically something that had come up in the one-on-ones. They had 30 minutes with their partner to explore the topic, one going up the hill, the other coming down. We got them back to the cars and back to their accommodation for a quick shower, change and breakfast. Then into the meeting room. The real task was to get each participant explain to the group what they had learned about their partner in the exercise. The increased depth of understanding between the participants was amazing. Everyone said how much better they understood their fellow team members. They were more empathetic, and all gave commitments to their peers around behaviours and interactions They even wrote and signed a contract of behaviours”.

These team facilitations are designed to provide you with the snapshot of where your team is up to at that point in time. The beauty of the process is that you can take a later snapshot and compare with the original, see where the team has grown and plan next steps. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that can then be backed with one-on-one and team coaching.

5 ways team facilitation can elevate your team to reach their potential

1. Helps the team work out where it sits compared to high performing teams.

2. Identifies the priority areas for attention within the team

3. Engages all the team members in strategies around improvement and growth

4. Motivates a team to work in complementary ways towards a common purpose or vision.

5. Holds a team to account for their actions and behaviours, with buy in from all.

If you would like to speak to Reddin Group about your next team facilitation, please follow us on LinkedIn or contact us via our website.

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With 40+ years executive search, recruitment, HR, coaching & commercial experience David still loves the work & finding bold and audacious solutions.

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David Reddin

David Reddin

With 40+ years executive search, recruitment, HR, coaching & commercial experience David still loves the work & finding bold and audacious solutions.

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