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Category Archive: Find a Facilitator

Facilitation Services: Frequently Asked Questions

Professional facilitators help companies understand and achieve their objectives. With services ranging from strategic planning to process improvement, our facilitation experts assist companies in overcoming obstacles in the problem solving process, identifying solutions or opportunities to pursue them. If you are considering hiring a facilitator, but you have questions about facilitation, the answers below can help.

What defines the type of facilitator a company needs?

The type of meeting that needs to be facilitated defines the type of facilitator a company needs. At FindaFacilitator, we provide facilitators for meetings that deal with the following areas: strategic planning, team building, issue resolution, process improvement, focus group, partnering session, and conference facilitation and planning.

How can a good facilitator be distinguished from a bad one?

A facilitator that works through a facilitation service receives performance reports from each company that he or she works with. If these reports show that the person has poor facilitation skills or unprofessional tendencies, the person will be dropped by a service after a certain number of reports are made. FindaFacilitaor does not work with facilitators who display poor performance.

Is there a benefit to hiring a notable facilitator?

Not necessarily. Many notable facilitators are known for something they accomplished outside of the field of facilitation. If their accomplishment is associated with the reason that you need a facilitator, then hiring one may be an excellent option. Under most circumstances, however, a standard facilitator is as effective as one that has name recognition.

What happens if a meeting doesn’t reach a resolution?

Facilitators set objectives that must be achieved by the end of a meeting. If they are not, the problem may result from the group or the facilitator’s poor performance. If a meeting fails to reach a resolution due to a facilitator’s time mismanagement, disorganization, failure to modify discussion, or failure to set clear objectives, a company should contact the service that the person was hired through.

How do facilitators decide their price?

Facilitators base their price on several factors, particularly: level of experience, reputation, the area of facilitation they work in, the amount of time they spend prepping for an engagement, and the level of demand for their services. FindaFacilitator works with facilitators whose rates run from low to high.    

Must a meeting meet certain criteria to be facilitated?

It depends on the facilitator. While many facilitators accept engagements liberally, they occasionally turn down an engagement for professional or personal reasons. If you wish to hire a particular facilitator, inquire about the person’s preferences through a facilitation service prior to offering them an engagement.

What are the advantages of using FindaFacilitator?

At FindaFacilitator, we offer facilitation services in a variety of areas, making it easy to target the facilitator you need. We also provide important information about the facilitators we work with, allowing you to choose one that accords with your wants and needs on various levels. FindaFacilitator offers a comprehensive facilitation source that anticipates all facilitation needs. If you think your company needs a facilitator, call us today.

Group Facilitation: What Does a Facilitator Do?

Some people think of a facilitator as someone who presents ideas to a group, rather than someone who helps a group develop their own ideas. In truth, a facilitator serves as a thought counselor and a mediator. If you are considering hiring a facilitator for an upcoming meeting, but you’re not familiar with how facilitators operate, below are key components that a good facilitator does and does not perform:

Does not Provide Ideas

Whereas speakers supply inspiring ideas, facilitators help group members express their own ideas—a practice that can impact a group’s thought quality and ability to communicate in a lasting way. Instead of supplying great thoughts, facilitators help people become great thinkers.

Dissuades Dominant Speakers

If a group member’s loquaciousness prevents other members from speaking, a facilitator will dissuade the person from over-talking. This can be accomplished respectfully, however, if the person’s verbosity persists, he or she may be asked to not speak unless called upon to do so.

Does not Chastise Ideas

The easiest way to sabotage a team report is to chastise the ideas of team members. If team members are headed in the wrong direction, a facilitator will pose questions or remind them of key points to get them back on track. However, group members are never made to feel wrong for, or embarrassed about their ideas.

Keeps the Conversation on Course

Group facilitation meetings are often thought of as brainstorming sessions, which is partly true. While team members do brainstorm ideas, they do so within a formal context. Prior to a meeting’s commencement, a facilitator sets the meeting’s rules, expectations, and goals, and makes them known to the group.  If team members diverge from the rules, the facilitator will guide them back on course.

Does not Promote Personal Ideals

Some facilitators have decades of experience in their area of facilitation, but they refrain from promoting solutions from their own experience for two reasons: they haven’t investigated whether the solutions would work, and the point of facilitation is to make a group self reliant, not reliant on a facilitator.

Fosters a Sense of Teamwork

Many teams have a few members who try to instruct the rest, even when their status is equal. Facilitators can eliminate this dynamic by dissuading dominant members and encouraging submissive ones. Just as over assertive members may be asked to temper their speech, non-assertive ones may be asked to offer more thoughts and be called on to speak.

Skilled Facilitators for Hire are Better than Unskilled Facilitators

A facilitation expert can ensure the successful outcome of a strategic planning event such as a meeting or retreat. Most companies hire these professionals with the goal of being able to create more organized events where critical issues can be discussed. Your company may be struggling with a particular project or internal problem. It is important to seek a professional who also creates buy-in from participants. Employees should leave the event feeling like part of a productive unit that accomplished a set of goals. These results increase each attendee’s belief in the group as a whole. Employees become motivated to continue working together in this manner long after the facilitated event. While these experts do not guarantee absolute success, they are a vital component of achieving a specific plan. Reaching an objective through creative thinking is almost impossible without them. A highly qualified individual can help your company create an effective strategy as well as achieve specific goals. They assist in planning and keep a well balanced, productive conversation throughout the event. Consider seeking facilitators for hire over using an internal employee during these high priority meetings.

Why Are Unskilled Facilitators a Bad Idea?

Any kind of business meeting can be difficult because they consist of a mixture of goals, personal values, and beliefs regarding company direction. Every perspective is important but must be handled appropriately. It is common to have conflicting views during these discussions. These hinder a group’s ability to maintain a more long term perspective. Working relationships, common behavior patterns, and past knowledge all affect the productivity of these events as well. Having an unskilled leader attempt to facilitate this type of gathering can increase these complications. Professional facilitators have a more objective viewpoint when it comes to management and the overall planning process. When an attendee is speaking based on habit or past experience, a professional can help determine if it is pertinent to event goals. If it is not, the professional facilitator may point out the deviation to create a more efficient discussion. Participants are not allowed to dominate the meeting. Everyone gets an opportunity to express their ideas in an effective manner.

What happens when a company uses an unskilled facilitator? Typically, the discussion ends up pertaining to non-goal oriented issues. Participants spend much of meeting going over past experiences. Mundane details keep everyone from focusing on the overall objective or big picture – there is too much “majoring in the minors”. Utilization of creative thinking to move the company forward is minimal. Specific actions are never decided or carried out. Professional facilitators have no personal connection to the company. They do not know the entire history of previous planning sessions. These professionals know the current goal at hand and have the skills necessary to direct a group toward outlined goals. Find someone who has the necessary qualifications and experience when seeking facilitators for hire. They should be familiar with your area of business. External professionals have a lot to offer when holding a vital company event. Thoroughness in selection will ensure you get exactly what the group needs to be productive.

Why Use A Facilitator?

For many, meetings are viewed as a dreaded evil to be avoided at all costs: far too little gets accomplished, much of the discussion is unfocused and unproductive, and a lot of time is wasted.

If you lead important group meetings, you know how difficult it can be to get a group engaged right from the beginning, to keep them focused and on track, to deal with difficult personalities and dysfunctional behavior, to build consensus when people disagree, and to ensure that full commitment is gained for follow through. Facilitators use facilitated sessions as a tool for addressing these issues.

A facilitated session is…

  • a highly structured meeting in which the facilitator guides the participants through
  • a series of predefined steps to arrive at a result that is created, understood and accepted by all participants.

The role of the facilitator is to…

  • use interactions and techniques that engage the hearts, minds and souls of the participants in the work.

At their best, facilitators are able to help participants excel as a team in focusing on the issues, building a common vision and committing to the actions that will bring that vision into reality!

When SHOULD You Use A Facilitator?

  1. Critical Results. If the results of the meeting are critical to the success of the enterprise, and there will be a variety of views in the room, consider using a facilitator.
  2. Strong Opinions. If there are many strong opinions in the room and consensus is required, consider using a facilitator.
  3. No Good Answers. If the situation is such that there are no apparent good answers and new, creative solutions are called for, consider using a facilitator.
  4. You are Vested. If you, the meeting leader, are strongly vested in a particular position, but want to be open to other possible alternatives, consider using a facilitator.
  5. Team Ownership Required. If the team – not just one or two people – needs to feel ownership of the solution, consider using a facilitator.
  6. Neutral Party Needed. If the discussion is best guided by a neutral party to engender trust or participation, consider using a facilitator.
  7. Lack of Expertise. If there is a lack of experience or expertise in managing a group through the work process (e.g., strategic planning), consider using a facilitator.
  8. Undefined Approach. If the product of the meeting or the work process needed to create the product is unclear or ill-defined, consider using a facilitator.

If you have to consider two or more of these items, definitely: USE A FACILITATOR!

When Should a Facilitator NOT Be Used?

It’s also important to understand the circumstances when it doesn’t make sense to engage a facilitator. You do not need a facilitator when:

  1. the decision has already been made.
  2. decision makers are not open to alternatives other than their own.
  3. the meeting is information only and requires no engagement of the group.
  4. the group is very small.
  5. there is a commonality of opinion on how to proceed.

Meetings are expensive. When you have the right facilitator with the corresponding skill set you tremendously enhance the quality of your meeting deliverables and make them much more cost-effective.

Recognizing the Need for Facilitation

Most managers today would agree that facilitation skills can be useful in a variety of situations, from project planning to team development. But how do you know when you really need to use a facilitated approach? We believe there are three key signs to look for. Consider the following scenarios:

  • The Vice President of Human Resources is fed up with all the complaints about the hiring process. Some departments complain it takes too long to get people hired. Others are concerned that people don’t have enough involvement in the screening process. Still others believe the organization hires people who lack basic skills. You’ve been asked to research the problem and recommend a revised hiring process.
  • The General Manager of your plant announces, “We have been asked by our largest customer to implement a plan for ensuring that our products keep up with their quality standards. If we fail, we stand to lose about half of our business. I want you to make it your number one priority.”
  • You are leading a systems development project for your company. The contractors working on the software originally estimated that the system would cost $2 million and require a year to implement. Two years and $3 million later, the contractors tell you that another $1 million and one more year will be needed to complete the job. Your CIO wants a recommendation. Should the company continue to invest in the project, salvage what it can from what is currently finished, or cancel the project completely?

Though the three situations are different, they have three key elements in common:

  1. A problem has been detected. There is a problem that needs to be addressed: an inefficient process, a client seeking assurances of continued quality, a project that has exceeded its budget.
  2. The solution to the problem is not readily apparent. If the solution were obvious, more than likely it would have been implemented already. To develop a solution will require a deeper understanding and analysis of the situation.
  3. Buy-in is needed for the solution to be successful. The solution will require a change in behavior by a number of people. Without the behavior change, even the best solution will fail.

We believe situations with these characteristics cry out for a “facilitated” solution created through one or more facilitated sessions. Though “facilitation” has been used to define many activities, we define a “facilitated session” as a highly structured meeting in which the facilitator guides the participants through a series of pre-defined steps to arrive at a result that is created, understood and accepted by all participants.

There are several key aspects to this definition. Every facilitated session has a specific purpose or result to be achieved. For example, the purpose of a particular facilitated meeting might be to create a strategic plan for the organization, or improve the efficiency of a specific process, or define a solution to a difficult problem. To create the result, the participants are involved in a series of pre-defined steps. The steps might involve understanding the current situation, isolating the problems and root causes, generating potential solutions, selecting the best solution, and developing an implementation plan.

The role of the facilitator is to guide the participants through the steps. Rather than dictating the solution, the facilitator uses an understanding of the process steps and group dynamics to help the group achieve the desired results, given the specific needs and characteristics of the participants. If the facilitation is successful, the final result will have been created, understood and accepted by all participants.