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Top 10 Reasons To Use A Facilitator

You have an important meeting coming up. The problem is complex. There are multiple opinions – some of them quite strong – on how to solve it. You don’t know what the answer is and in fact, you are not sure about how to go about getting the group to agreement. But you know you have to get everyone on the same page. Should you hire a facilitator?

In this video, Michael Wilkinson, CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, shares the top 10 reasons you should consider using a facilitator.

Remember – our team is always here to help! Our database has a network of over 600 facilitators, and our team can help match you with the best resource for your session.

The 8 Roles of a Great Facilitator

By definition, a facilitator is “a person…that makes an action or process easy or easier.” If ever there was an insufficient definition for something, this is it.

Effective facilitators have to wear many hats in any given session. The role encompasses presentation abilities, training abilities, people skills, project management – and more. This person has to keep the group focused, take them deeper with a topic, and (sometimes) keep a potentially volatile situation at bay. This is a dynamic role in which the facilitator is delivering important content and helping to engage productive interactions without necessarily knowing as much as the individuals he or she is facilitating.

In short, a good facilitator is focused on the topic at hand, the interaction process and participants, and the optimal path to reach the objective. This is a complex balancing act that requires numerous skill sets.

We have identified eight distinct roles that a facilitator is likely to play during a session.

  1. Motivator: From the rousing opening statement to the closing words of cheer, you ignite a fire within the group, establish momentum, and keep the pace.
  2. Guide: You know the steps of the process the group will execute from beginning to end and carefully guide the participants through each step in turn.
  3. Questioner: You listen carefully to the discussion and quickly analyze comments to formulate questions that help guide a productive group discussion and challenge the group when appropriate.
  4. Bridge Builder: You create and maintain a safe and open environment for sharing ideas. Where other people see differences, you find and use similarities to establish a foundation for building bridges to consensus.
  5. Clairvoyant: Throughout the session, you are attuned to signs of strain, weariness, aggravation, and disempowerment, and respond in advance to prevent dysfunctional behavior.
  6. Peacemaker: Although it is generally better to avoid direct confrontations, should it happen, you step in quickly to reestablish order and direct the group toward a constructive resolution.
  7. Taskmaster: You are ultimately responsible for keeping the session on track. This entails tactfully cutting short irrelevant discussions, preventing detours, and maintaining a consistent level of detail throughout the session.
  8. Praiser: At every opportunity, you should praise participants for good effort, progress, and results – praise well, praise often, praise specifically.

It can seem difficult to pinpoint impact of a professional facilitation. By understanding all of the many roles that a professional facilitator must play during a session, however, you are equipped to ask the right questions and evaluate whether your facilitator will ensure efficient use of resources (time and money), high participation, and productive outcomes.

6 Questions to Ask to Find the Best Facilitator for Your Needs

Because you’re reading this, we can presume that you already know the value of professional facilitation. You also likely know that you have many choices about what expert you select as your facilitator.

The next step, of course, is selecting someone who can meet your unique needs.

Meetings are inherently human. Like any situation where a group of people is involved, the potential exists for things to go off the rails due to a lack of agreement, emotion, unclear expectations, or any number of other unforeseen possibilities. The right facilitator can help you avoid those unwanted possibilities, and lead your group toward more productive and focused meetings, a faster path to consensus, and an efficient use of everyone’s time.

But do you know how to find that person?

With so many choices available, it’s important to spend a little time zeroing in on a professional who will work with you to support your specific group and goals. This person should be able to stimulate creativity and conversation. They should listen well and respect the input of each participant to create an engaging experience that creates results.

Start by assembling a list of possible facilitators. Do your due diligence and check references. Once you have a couple candidates identified, it’s time to get personal. Ask each candidate to spend 15-30 minutes facilitating members of your group, and watch them in action. Once you’ve witnessed that they could fit well, you can have an informed conversation to confirm your choice.

The Six Questions to Ask a Professional Facilitator

Since 2002, FindaFacilitator has been matching professional facilitators with teams of all sizes, industries, locations, and types. Over that time, we have identified six specific questions that reliably help organizations enlist experts with confidence and success.

  1. What questions do you have for me?

Great facilitators start with the 5Ps – Purpose, Products, Participants, Probable Issues, and Process – in that order. (Process always comes last!) Be wary of facilitators who want to describe how they can help you (their process), before they understand your needs (your purpose, products, participants, and probable issues).

  1. What is your approach for getting the group interacting and focused?

Some facilitators have great days but don’t necessarily understand why. Consciously competent facilitators absolutely know the keys to success. They understand what works, what generally doesn’t, and why. Ask your facilitator to describe techniques to get groups interacting right away, keeping focus and avoiding side issues.

  1. How will you address dysfunctional behavior?

Great facilitators know the key to dysfunction is preventing it from happening in the first place. Your facilitator should ask you about the participants, their issues, and any problems typically seen in meetings. He or she should recommend strategies like establishing specific ground rules and holding conversations with particular participants.

  1. What type of orientation will you need if we move ahead?

Great facilitators know that the more they understand your business, the better able they will be to keep the group moving smoothly. They should ask you for relevant documents and information about your organization, your products, and your issues.

  1. What do your clients like about how you facilitate?

Most facilitators bring neutrality and control to a group. Great facilitators bring much more. Listen for descriptions like “great energy level,” “insightful questions,” “the process allowed us to get so much more done,” or “managing diverse personalities” to ascertain that you have the most qualified professional for your team.

  1. Based on what you have heard, what might the agenda be for the meeting?

Great facilitators have a set of proven processes they can tailor for each client. The processes are so well practiced that they can quickly pull from their resource pool to change course or customize an approach on the spot if a mid-session change is needed. Make sure the candidate can give you his or her “first thought” about how they might approach your needs, and dig deeper to make sure they have the confidence, experience, and resources to be as flexible as needed.

We specialize in providing organizations with dynamic, professional facilitators to lead group strategy and problem-solving sessions. Anytime your organization is seeking a facilitator, our robust database is the best place to start. Use it to locate candidates with the process and industry experience, regional location, and range of rates you need.

Our Facilitator Database Ensures You Get the Best Service Possible

Do you find yourself wondering if the business meetings you and your executives attend are generating tangible benefits for your company? Do you think your business processes can be streamlined and improved to realize greater profit margins but are not quite sure how to do this? Do you feel your company is poised for growth and that your team is ready for greater challenges, and yet, you don’t know what steps to take to achieve this?

If your answer to the above questions is a resounding “yes,” then you and your company will definitely benefit from an experienced and qualified facilitator.

What a Facilitator Can Do for You

Trained meeting facilitators will help you conduct productive office meetings in order to save your company money and to maximize the time and talents of your personnel.

Process and group facilitators can help you identify areas of improvement and make measurable, timely recommendations to meet your company’s goals and business projections.

Team building and strategic planning are crucial for the continued success and growth of any company. Corporate facilitators are equipped with the skills to guide you and your team to a new and deeper understanding of your corporate identity so you can explore new directions for your company. They can also clarify and define the role each employee plays in the success of the company as a whole.

What We Can Do for You

We have an extensive database of highly trained, seasoned and certified facilitators. We have more than 500 professional facilitators from all over the country and throughout the world. Our clients are assured that we will provide them with the ideal facilitator who will not only meet their requirements but exceed their every expectation.

Our facilitators have achieved success working with companies across a wide and varied range of industries. No matter what type of business you’re in or what sector of your organization needs help, we are confident we have the right facilitator to help you within our database.

Stop wasting your company’s precious resources with unproductive meetings. Create new markets and discover fresh ways of doing business to give your bottom line a much-needed and sustainable boost. Inspire your team and lead your company to a greater level of success and competitiveness.

In a global economy, you need a service provider with the global resources to help you succeed. FindaFacilitator, with our world-wide database of highly trained, dedicated and experienced facilitators, is your answer. We are committed to helping you reach your goals and business aspirations by providing you with a complete range of expert facilitation services.

Qualities of an Effective Facilitator

There are certain personal and professional traits that every effective facilitator needs to have in order for him or her to succeed in facilitation. No matter what type of facilitation is warranted, the skills below are necessary if a facilitator is to lead a group to attain the goals that have been set at the beginning of the facilitated session.

Effective Facilitators Are Knowledgeable

Every facilitator needs to be clear on the purpose of the facilitation from the onset. There are many different types of facilitation, and each differs from the next in terms of scope, reach and purpose. Leading a strategic planning facilitation can be very different from conflict resolution or team building. A good facilitator knows this and comes prepared to tackle the particular challenges that each facilitation type requires.

A facilitator’s knowledge goes beyond his or her realm of expertise. He or she also needs to have a solid and clear understanding of the client’s organization as well as field of activity. Facilitators do not need to be experts in the business of their clients, but they do have to take it upon themselves to arm themselves with as much pertinent information as is necessary to make their facilitation meaningful and pertinent to the attendees.

An Effective Facilitator Is a Skilled Communicator

Part of an effective facilitator’s arsenal of skills includes the ability to listen actively to what a participant is saying – as well as to what is not being said – by picking up on non-verbal cues and varying voice inflections. A skilled facilitator is an expert communicator, one who is able to ask questions without being threatening and give answers without casting someone’s differing opinion aside.

Effective facilitators also know how to manage the process adroitly. They make sure no one is left behind and everyone feels that he or she is part of the process. Moreover, skilled facilitators help participants develop good communication techniques by mirroring these for them throughout the facilitation process.

Facilitators Love People

Successful facilitators are by nature people-lovers. They have a genuine respect for the uniqueness of every individual and believe that everyone has something to contribute to the success of the facilitation in their own way. They are sociable and empathetic individuals whose demeanor invites people to open up and share their opinions and experiences honestly.

All of our professional facilitators possess these traits and have many years of experience in the field. As a result of their efforts, hundreds of companies and individuals have undergone successful facilitation and achieved the success and goals they have set for themselves and their companies.

How We Help You Find a Facilitator

Congratulations on your decision to hire a professional facilitator. You can rest assured knowing that a qualified expert is only minutes away. Whatever corporate issue your business is suffering from, we will do our best to pair you with the best of the best. Our extensive database is comprised of global professionals that specialize in a variety of disciplines.

We take our commitment to client satisfaction very seriously, which is why you will never be put into contact with an unqualified individual. Find  A Facilitator employs a number of measures to ensure only top-notch professionals are a part of the facilitation network. 

We Make It Easy to Connect

If this is your first time hiring a facilitator, you probably have many questions about the selection process, including how to get started. To date, our company has successfully matched thousands of organizations from a myriad of industries with staff that deliver results, so relax and know you have come to the right place.

Clients who wish to streamline the search process are urged to take advantage of our “Begin Search” feature, which starts on the homepage. Simply enter your contact information and the type of facilitation session you are interested in scheduling (e.g. meeting, strategic planning, issue resolution, focus group, etc). Within seconds, our digital system will strategically select a list of contract facilitators who specialize in the area you chose. The list will present their individual profiles by rank with Certified Master Facilitators listed first.

While many of our customers find the self-search method quick and convenient, this is not for everyone. Business owners who are new to the concept of corporate facilitation or who prefer to be walked through the process step-by-step can take advantage of our Live Chat feature.

Why Should You Hire A Certified Master Facilitator?

Is your business struggling with employee productivity and performance issues? Does it seem more and more that your corporate meetings are falling on deaf ears? Whether your company is a new start-up or an established firm with a solid reputation in the industry, these problems can mean the difference between expansion or downsizing. Poor staff morale and miscommunication leads to mistakes that harm your brand’s credibility and ultimately its profit margins. 

Resolve the Conflict with a Facilitator

If this negative pattern is allowed to continue, it is only a matter of time before your customer base becomes unstable. Fortunately, all hope is not lost. There are experts that specialize in these matters, individuals who can help you restore weak links and rebuild a strong foundation for corporate leadership and success. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all it takes to get out of a rut and to find a viable solution. Who better to do this than someone who has years of tailored experience working with businesses large and small?

We give our clients access to a vast network of corporate facilitators, each of whom are carefully chosen based on their industry qualifications. Per these requirements, everyone is classified into one of five categories: no certification, trained by a certified trainer, certified professional facilitator, associate master and certified master.

This ranking system is intended solely to match our customers with facilitators that best fit their individual needs. As you may expect, certified master facilitators are those individuals who have demonstrated unmatched expertise in their field of study, which can range from dispute resolution to team building to effective meeting planning. To achieve master certification status, a facilitator must prove their ability to train others and must have worked with a minimum of five core engagements.

Whereas novice or experienced facilitators typically have a keen understanding of one focus area, certified master facilitators are well-equipped to handle multi-level corporate problems. If your company is suffering from various unresolved issues, we highly recommend that you hire a master status facilitator. To reassure you that this decision will be a profitable one, we will personally refund 100 percent of their fees if they fail to meet our core competency test.

How Does Facilitation Really Work?

Facilitation is a process. In order for it to work and achieve the goals a client has set, it has to be well thought-out and properly implemented. It begins well before the actual sessions with participants.

Choosing the Facilitator

An assessment of the client’s needs and requirements is the first step of the facilitation process. This is crucial because it will be the basis for choosing the right facilitator for the job. We have hundreds of professional facilitators in our database and choosing the right one is vital to the success of your facilitation sessions.

Each of our facilitators has their own strengths and areas of expertise. We endeavor to select or recommend one that is the most qualified to handle your particular situation. You can trust us to choose one for you or you can select one yourself from our database using our online system.

Communication

We remain in close communication with your facilitator every step of the way. This is not because we do not trust them to do a good job. All our professional facilitators are highly qualified and committed to their craft. In our experience, we have found that open lines of communication between parties contribute significantly to the success of the process. It also helps us (and your facilitators via feedback) to identify possible areas of conflict early in the process (or even before it begins) and implement effective solutions or find ways to avoid them completely.

Your Feedback Is Important

At the end of the facilitation process, we always ask for an honest assessment of your experience. This is helpful in two ways. It shows us our weaknesses, giving us the opportunity to improve them, as well as our strengths. Giving us feedback also gives participants the chance to step back from the experience and gain an objective perspective of what worked (or didn’t) and what was useful and effective or otherwise. Honest and accurate feedback keeps the facilitation process dynamic and relevant.

Traits of a Good Facilitator

Successful facilitators are made, not born. They use the skills and techniques they have honed throughout their careers to help businesses run effective meetings and achieve their goals and objectives. A professional facilitator knows running a meeting is easy; running a good meeting, however, is not.

When you have a group of people in a room, anything can happen. Some people will dominate the meeting, while others won’t say a word; a few will stick to the issues at hand, many more will go off tangent. Experienced facilitators know how to control a meeting without deciding its outcome; how to follow an agenda while accommodating discourse; how to build consensus without alienation.

Below are some characteristics all top-notch facilitators develop to professional perfection in order to succeed.

Familiarity

Meeting facilitators make it their business to know your business. They familiarize themselves with your line of work, the typical issues and concerns, etc. in order to direct and guide the discussion intelligently.

Sensitivity

Successful facilitators are sensitive to the needs of each individual as well as to the chemistry of the group. They know how to build an atmosphere of trust that invites dialogue and equal participation. Their goal is for the group to work towards a real consensus where every point of view is genuinely considered and carefully weighed.

Good Timing

Sometimes participants need prodding; at other times they need to be reminded to give others a chance to contribute. An experienced group facilitator knows when to jump in, wait, bring a session to a close, or let the discussion continue.

Resourcefulness

No one can anticipate, nor be able to prevent, everything that can go wrong during facilitation. That’s why it’s important for facilitators to have the ability to think on their feet. When warranted, they must be able to switch direction and accommodate changes quickly and smoothly without jeopardizing the process.

A Sense of Humor

Effective facilitators know how to keep the mood light without being silly; how to put participants at ease without the session turning into a three-ring circus.

Offering Customers a Facilitator Quality Guarantee

Are you looking for a certified facilitator? We have got you covered. At FindaFacilitator.com, we know our customers expect and deserve only the best. Our clients rely on our ability to locate qualified facilitators, so we have taken it upon ourselves to offer a comprehensive quality guarantee.

Every facilitator who is listed in our database is allowed to provide a self-rating on categories we consider to be the most important in the field. We list 70 service areas, and the facilitator can choose a rank that he or she feels accurately represents his or her experience in the specified area. An expert is one who can effectively train others in the field, while an independent one can work alone without assistance in a particular niche.

To better serve our customers, we believe it is only fair to list qualified facilitators first. A certified master facilitator is an individual who has attained the highest certifications in the field, and as such, will be listed first on the display list generated by a customer’s search query. To protect our clients and offer them expert-level service, we encourage them to use master facilitators. We do this by offering a money-back guarantee on the facilitators’ services if they fail to meet our customer’s expectations. While we would never expect a client to be dissatisfied, we have implemented this guarantee as a way of demonstrating our ability to find the best of the best in the corporate facilitation field.

Client Feedback is Always Important

In addition to listing certified facilitators first and by allowing these individuals to rank themselves, we allow our customers to rate their experience as well. Not only does this help future customers find the right facilitator for their needs, it also helps us reevaluate our listings. If a particular facilitator received too many negative reviews, we would ultimately place them at the bottom of our list.

After the client’s session has been completed, our client relationship managers will reach out to them to log their input. Our customers can rank their facilitator on a scale of one to four, with four being the best rating.

In regards to the certified master facilitators, those who we offer a money-back guarantee on in the event that the customer is not satisfied with the service, we evaluate the facilitator’s performance in core areas. These key competencies (presence, assessment, communication, control, consistency and engagement) are what separate an expert facilitator from a novice.

Strategic Planning Facilitators: How to Choose the Right Facilitator

If you need the assistance of a strategic planning facilitator, you probably need it sooner rather than later. Before you hire a facilitator, be sure to consider how the qualities and credentials of the hired professional would affect the service you receive. Like the companies they assist, facilitators have a variety of characteristics, and finding one with the right characteristics can take time. As you weigh your options, observing the tips below will help you to find a facilitator who offers the qualities you need:

Choose a Person who has a Reputation for Being Professional

Facilitating a meeting can bring several challenges, such as dealing with argumentative or loquacious team members. Just as difficult team members can tempt their colleagues to fight fire with fire, they can tempt facilitators to do the same. Professional facilitators find ways to eliminate the behavior of troublemakers without potentially exacerbating it.

Choose a Person Who has the Right Skills

A facilitator should possess topnotch consulting skills in his or her area of expertise. Although a facilitator helps a group to reach its own solutions instead of supplying solutions as a traditional consultant would, consultation skills are still an important aspect of facilitation, especially for strategic planning facilitators.

A facilitator who lacks consulting experience in strategic planning can have difficultly facilitating effective strategies. Although the group arrives at the strategies, the facilitator must understand which strategies are valid and which ones are not.

Consider the Fee

For selection criteria, the fee of a facilitator should not hold more importance than his or her professional qualities, but you should consider the fee with of how often you would need facilitation. Choosing a facilitator whose fee is easily affordable has two advantages: you can use the person’s services as often as necessary, and, in doing so, you allow the person to gain unique insight into the needs and goals of your company.

Find Out if a Person Will Work With a Co-Facilitator

If you plan to have a co-facilitator work with the facilitator you hire, be sure to find out if the latter is willing to work with the former. Although the job of facilitators is to help a group reach a consensus, there have been several occasions where a group has helped a feuding facilitator and co-facilitator reach a consensus. To prevent this from happening at your company, find out if a facilitator is willing to share the reigns with someone else.

Meeting Facilitation: What Type of Facilitator Do You Need?

Have you ever tried to guide your colleagues toward a consensus? If so, then you probably understand the value of a meeting facilitator. Worldwide, facilitation is a profitable industry, and these facilitators help groups hold productive meetings. More often than not, groups needing a facilitator share a common business interest, and have divided opinions, or a lack of knowledge, about how to further those interests. A facilitator helps them analyze their opinions, or gaps in knowledge, and reach their own conclusions—a goal that depends on the facilitator’s neutral approach. Unlike consultants, facilitators do not supply businesses with direct solutions.

Choosing a Meeting Facilitator

The term meeting facilitator could refer to several types of facilitators. In many cases, businesses need a facilitator who specializes in one or more of the following areas:

Strategic planning

Strategic planning facilitators help businesses clarify the best way to reach their goals, especially during a period of organizational change. Often, the key to developing a strategic plan is to overcome organizational conflicts that have divided the group into factions. When this is the case, conflict resolution should precede strategic planning.

Issue resolution

Issue resolution facilitators are used for one of two reasons: to help a group achieve a productive dialogue that leads to a resolution, or to help a group resolve lingering feelings of conflict after a resolution has been reached. In some instances, conflict resolution facilitators are used in situations that could lead to arbitration if the conflict stays unresolved.

Hiring a Facilitator

After identifying the type of meeting facilitation they need, businesses select a facilitator based on numerous factors, including: industry recognition, facilitation experience, executive experience, and personality type. If you are not sure which type of facilitator to choose, FindaFacilitator can analyze your goals and recommend a facilitator who will help you meet your objectives. With access to over 500 facilitators located at home and abroad, our ability to supply facilitation services is unparalleled.

Facilitators can be hired directly or through a facilitation company. Many businesses prefer the latter because the firm evaluates facilitators, offers an array of facilitators at a variety of fee levels, classifies facilitators by specialty, and serves as a liaison between businesses and facilitators regarding administrative issues. Facilitation companies also serve as consultants to businesses that need advice on prioritizing different types of facilitation.