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    Entries in facilitation skills (2)

    Monday
    Dec192016

    What's your attitude to facilitation? 

    For many leaders who facilitate, they simply get on and do it. They may not be aware of what they’re doing or what impact it’s having; it just is. They just go ahead and do the best they can with what they know.

    For other leaders, they lose sleep before facilitating a big meeting or planning session or workshop and run scenarios of failure and horror over and over in their mind or they workshop options and possibilities and agenda timings in their head.

    Yet others see their facilitation skill as something to be improved on. I certainly do. The capability is just that; a capability. And it can be improved.

    There is certainly a confidence about facilitation. Often we know we’re not quite ‘there’ with our confidence but we’re willing to keep putting ourselves out there and continuing to learn, develop and grow as a facilitator, as a leader. 

    Stepping up the Ladder of Capability

    Here’s what I think this path to improving your capability in facilitation at work looks like. It’s like moving up a ladder. 

    There are two halves:

    1.   where you avoid facilitation and are questioning yourself and your capability; and

    2.  where you engage, where you are questioning others (in a good way), as a facilitation technique or style.

    Looking at the avoid half, way down in the depths is the ‘no, don’t make me do it’response. It may be your first experience facilitating, or even an experience earlier this week! In any case, you felt out of your depth, out of control and wishing it wasn’t you at the front of the room in charge of making things happen. You wished it could be anyone but you. It’s the ‘no not me’ scenario. You feel like running away. A dose of fight or flight and you’d prefer to flight, right out the door and into a safer, more comfortable space. If you have the situation of the rotating chair in your workplace, where a different person facilitates the meeting each time, you may have felt this.

    A little higher on the ladder is where you are unsure. You take on the role to facilitate but are wondering ‘why me’. Then possibly while you’re facilitating you’re hesitant, waiting, wondering ‘what is best to do when’ for the outcomes you and the group are seeking.

    Then comes a tipping point… where you shift up and over a hurdle of sorts; where you move from questioning yourself or doubting yourself, to really stepping into the role of questioning others and embracing the role of being of service to what the team needs...so you’re truly facilitating others.

    When you take on the role of a facilitator, a Leader as Facilitator, you do it, but you’re inconsistent. You’re wanting to learn more, to be more aware; you’re wondering ‘what next?’ Imagine you’re deep in the middle of a meeting or workshop and the team is working through a problem. You wonder, ‘Is this it? What else could I be doing to help the group? What’s the best use of my services as a facilitator?’ You decide to ask the group rather than wondering to yourself. You might say, ‘So what next? What do you think is the most important thing for us to address next?’

    With further awareness, learning and experience, you shift up to being capable, to thinking ‘Yes, I’ve got this’.

    I worry though for people who believe they are already here; they already think they've got this. They think they’re pretty good facilitators; they think they know it all and have little left to learn.

    Still others say ‘I’m all ears’ or ‘I’m on a learning curve’ yet they do anything but learn! They’re closed to ideas or have heard it all before… or done it all before.

    Beware! Even the best and most experienced facilitators have more to learn. Always. There is always more to learn, more to be exposed to, more approaches, ways of working, things you can do to support a team or group as a facilitator.

    So it continues. And you move on up to some nirvana of facilitation where you realise all of your good and bad and in-between life experiences contribute to make you a wise and capable facilitator. You say ‘bring it’ and you realise, believe and behave as if you can handle whatever may come. If you don’t know what to do, you know you are at the service of the group or team and together you will know what to do.

    • Where are you on the ladder?
    • What have you experienced?
    • Which levels do you recognize?
    • What’s the next step for you? 

    I'd love to hear your thoughts about facilitation and your attitude to where you are, where you've been or where you'd like to get to.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    Facilitation for Consultants : 9 things to do

    Building on my recent post about Beyond Being a Consultant, there's a wonderful space for consultants, experts and thought leaders to step into organisations today, and that is in the role of a facilitator. 

    Not just being a clever smarty pants about your expertise, but also helping a team, group, executive, board or gathering of leaders to work through the stuff they need to work through and get to some meaningful outcomes. 

    I see it as a three element thing; when you're facilitating (as a consultant, expert or thought leader), you're helping this group be: 

    • PRODUCTIVE: you help them get stuff done. 
    • COLLABORATIVE: you help bring people together 
    • CREATIVE: you help them do good work.

     

    The 9 things to do

    I see there are nine things to do or questions to answer in being able to think, design and deliver an effective facilitated workshop or session for a client organisation. These things address what you need to engage with a client about facilitating a session, preparing to facilitate, designing the event and handling what happens during - and after - the session. 

    Looks like this ;-)

    Think about these things; ask yourself about them: 

    1. EXPERTISE

    What’s my expertise? What do I bring to working with a group or facilitating a team? What type of sessions could I facilitate? 

    2. NEEDS

    Who are they? What are their needs? How do I best identify their requirements? Where is the 'gap' I can help them close? 

    3. RESPONSE

    What is my response? How do I propose we close the gap? What is my response to their situation? How will I bring my specialist expertise to their situation? What do I do?

    4. OUTLINE

    What does the session look like? What processes will we use and follow? What type of workshop or session will this be?

    5. AGENDA

    Designing the session, in detail. What will happen, when? How will we make best use of the time available? What games, tools, activities and resources are available to us? What will we do when we all come together? 

    6. FACILITATE

    Conducting the session. What will I do on the day of the event? How do I set up the room or space, run the agenda? What things are needed on the day? How do I start things off? 

    7. ADAPT

    The best-laid plans may need to change. Now what? Handling what happens on the day and dealing with unexpected changes. How do I handle how people respond and work in the session? What if...? 

    8. TECHNIQUES

    Tools, Tips, Techniques & Tricks: these are the approaches, the methodologies, the processes that facilitators have up their sleeve. 

    9. BEYOND

    Wrap Ups, conclusions and ‘What Next?': How will I wrap up the day? How do we make sure we achieved something? What could we do next? How do I make sure there is ongoing opportunity for us to work together? What else could I do to support them with their work? 

     

    New to facilitation?

    If you’re new to facilitation as an expert or consultant, it’s a great time to make a clean start. You can begin to add facilitation into your offer to client businesses. If you’re not already getting this type of work, would you like to? If so, you’ll need some contemporary facilitation skills to design the program or session, run it and get the outcomes needed. In this way you’ll get the most out of their time and their investment of getting everyone in the room on the same day.

     

    Already facilitating? 

    If you’re already facilitating, you can always, always enhance your capability, step-up the type and level of work you can deliver and help your clients get even greater impact and outcomes when you work with them. How might you need to think differently? What other processes or approaches or styles would you like to test out in facilitating your expertise with a client? 

     

    It's very now!

    Facilitation is a way of working with teams and groups that's very 'now'; with increasing requirements for teams to be more collaborative, to co-design and co-create things and for a more diverse team to be sitting around a workplace meeting room, the need for facilitators is greater than it's ever been. 

    Helping people get important work done, and done swiftly and creatively are the reasons why I LOVE working as a facilitator and building the facilitation capability of leaders of all sorts. I think it's one of the greatest leadership capabilities - whether you're a leader of a team or a leader in your own business, and particularly if you're a consultant, expert or thought leader. You know stuff that you can help your clients with; adopting a facilitation approach gets them working on it, together. 

    Building Facilitation Skills

    I enjoy supporting consultants, experts and thought leaders to boost their facilitation capability. In most of my facilitation workshops, I run a policy of 'any question at any time' and so there is always that uncertainty about 'what's going to happen' which is present in the room. This is a good thing to get used to. The uncertainty. It's about being less in control and more comfortable, confident, capable. 

    And even more fun than the questions at any time, I make my workshops on facilitation skills a facilitated experience. Yes, that's very 'meta' isn't it; a workshop on facilitation that is actually facilitated. No PowerPoint, no definitions, no yawn-yawn training. That means we co-create the agenda based on what we want to learn or what our challenges are and then we go through and cover off the content. It's more experiential; you get to see (what I think) is contemporary, effective, business-ready facilitation. Things happen in the room with us during the day and so as the facilitator, I have to handle them. This is how you get to see what to do, how you could handle the stuff that happens. This provides you with a 'real life' environment to see and experience great facilitation skills in practice in the room during the program. 

    Read more about the two-day facilitation skills program I run here for consultants, experts and thought leaders.