Choosing a Facilitator Who Will Help Guide Your Team to the Top
In a recent blog we looked at how facilitators can help unlock next level thinking from individuals and teams, but how do you choose the right facilitator for your specific needs?
In this article, we’ll look at factors to consider when selecting the right facilitator for your team.
David Reddin has been working as a facilitator (and with facilitators) for more than 30 years and firmly believes that before the right fit can be found, there are a few steps that must take place.
Step 1: Know your team
“To get the most out of a facilitation session, the team manager must have in-depth knowledge of their own team, including their strengths, weaknesses, levels of maturity, experience and they must be willing to work closely with a facilitator to bring them up to speed. You absolutely cannot go in with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. A good facilitator will understand that and expect to be fully briefed before even meeting the team,” David says.
Step 2: Have a clear communications program
Another key component David insists on running alongside a facilitation session is a clear communications program.
“Ensuring the group understand why you are running a facilitation session is critical. If they believe what is happening is going to be threatening or divisive, you have shot yourself in the foot before you have even begun. For this reason, selecting a facilitator who will work with you on communications around the session is a must in my view,” he says.
Step 3: Set objectives
Elaborating on the ‘why:’ David believes that managers need to know what they want to achieve, must be willing to set objectives with the facilitator for the session and beyond and in David’s opinion, they should be willing to consider including a ‘Charter of Behaviours’ that can be developed and set in stone during the session.
“It’s not to say that managers must have all the answers before you begin, but it is critical that they are willing to work closely with the facilitator to do the groundwork. In my view, the ‘Charter of Behaviours’ is critical for all teams to hash out and agree upon. It forms the foundation for working together on a day-to-day basis. A good facilitator will want to do this upfront to set the team up for anything that comes next,” David says.
Step 4: Collaborate
When looking for the right facilitator for your next team session, treat it like you would a recruitment exercise; ask questions, provide scenarios or issues you have with the current team dynamics, ask for their relevant experience, seek recommendations from others and check references. Ask former participants how they found their past sessions and whether they made tangible change as a result.
“The best facilitation matches come by providing facilitators the opportunity to put forward a proposal for the session. It’s a great starting point to see if you are on the same page and whether the facilitator is going to be able to work through team confrontation, or even stop team members blindly agreeing with the opinions of management. It will also lay out the type of background work the facilitator will want to do. These might include staff surveys and team profiling exercises. Some of this work is outstanding when it comes to identifying blind spots in an organisation, but it takes a skilled facilitator to bring it to the table.”
“I can recall one session we ran where, after overseeing a profiling exercise, we found that the group was filled with “doers and completers”, but no “creatives/innovators”. It was the beginning of being able to show the group why they weren’t adapting new ways of pushing their business forward in a changing market. In turn it helped identify which skills their next management hire would need to possess in order to complement and add into the team in order to take them to the next level,” he says.
Facilitation can be confronting at times and is not to be used as a ‘back slapping’ exercise.
“That would be a total waste of time. Real change comes from confronting challenges and drawing out the elephants in the room, so a facilitator must be skilled in listening and managing delicate situations with respect and tact. Facilitators must have a solid set of tools in their basket, and they must understand that once the session ends, it doesn’t mean the work ends too,” David says.
Tips for picking the right facilitator for your team
- Firstly, ensure the facilitator is equipped with the experience and tools to do the groundwork well ahead of the program so they are prepared and not just feeling their way on the day. Look for a facilitator who will work closely with the manager on this.
- Ensure the facilitator understands and contributes to a communication program surrounding the team and their upcoming session.
- Ask the facilitator for a proposal and understand the kind of tools they will be willing to use with your team.
- Ensure they can listen, manage conflict effectively and draw out the shy members of the group.
- Finally, understand the what they plan for you post program — what happens once the session is over? How do we keep the momentum going?
If you would like to speak to David or a member of the Reddin Group Team about your next facilitation session, connect with us via LinkedIn.