Facilitation – what does it really mean? Is it just more development jargon? What makes a good facilitator anyway? Is it about being tall, male, early 40s?
These were some of my questions before I heard an excellent talk by Clio Kenterelidou of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She helped me understand the three core roles of a facilitator, showed me what matters most and passed on very specific do’s and don’ts. I was so inspired I put it into a slideshow (see below).
We had a consultant come in to facilitate our departmental planning meeting. I felt a little hesitant about the consultant because she is also involved in a process with the management team. In the back of my mind I wondered if she might bias the process towards what management wanted.
At the start, she sat us in a circle. She asked us to present ourselves with our name, our favorite place and our favorite tool, and to tell the others something that we think they do not know about us. Her approach reminded me of an article I had just read. It spoke about the hidden powers of facilitators to manipulate the process and undermine people who are a bit different. I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be judged on what place I like or what tool I prefer. And telling something about myself that the others do not know – maybe there is a reason they do not know it. I chose to approach the exercise from a work perspective and answered that my favorite place is my desk and my favorite tool is my pen; and I refused to answer the last thing! I guess I was not the ideal participant.
I reflected a little bit about my reactions. I decided it was about trust. The facilitator has a lot of power when designing a process; I didn’t have the trust in her to lower my guard. I think maybe it would have been different if the consultant would have shared her favorite place and tool and something about herself instead of just forcing us to do it. If you want to know more – about what it takes or what to look for in a good facilitator, have a look at this Slideshare presentation:
Pause and Reflect:
How do you…
- Create trust between the participants and yourself?
- Handle participants who do not lower their guard?
This week take a look at the list of “the perfect facilitator” in the slideshow and ask yourself, your colleagues, and clients (you may learn even more by asking your spouse and children!):
- What are my strongest points?
- What do I already do quite well?
- Where might I improve?