All About Facilitation, Group Skills and Group Performance Management

Sections in This Topic Include

Understanding Facilitation

What is Facilitation?
What Does a Facilitator Do?

Facilitation as a Service

How Do You Recognize a High-Quality Facilitator?
Would You Benefit from a Facilitator? How Much Would It Cost?

Core Skills for Facilitators

Core Interpersonal Skills for Facilitators
Core Group Skills for Facilitators

Types of Groups and Applications

Common Types of Groups
Popular Group Applications and Activities

Doing Facilitation

Preparing to Facilitate
Ice Breakers and Warmup Activities
Basic Tips for Successful Facilitation
Staying Centered During Facilitation

Business of Facilitation

Professionalism and Ethics
Credentials
Starting a Facilitation Business

General Resources

Various Organizations About Facilitation and With Many Resources
Free Facilitation Tools
Parliamentary Procedures

Also see
Related Library Topics

Also See the Library's Blogs Related to Facilitation

In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Facilitation. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Supervision Blog
Library's Team Performance Blog



UNDERSTANDING FACILITATION

What is Facilitation?

Facilitation is the nature of the activities to run a meeting, including planning, design, implementation and evaluation of the meeting. The activities can be done in an explicit and systematic manner or in an implicit, organic and unfolding nature, depending on the nature and needs of participants. Facilitation can be driven by an external role that is dedicated to facilitation (a facilitator) or by the group members themselves.

What is facilitation? (and Core Values of Facilitation)

What Does a Facilitator Do?

Simply put, the role of the facilitator (in the context of personal, professional and organizational development) is to guide and support a group to get clear on the results they want to accomplish and what methods they might use accomplish those results. The facilitator might also guide and support the group to actually implement those methods, and even evaluate the implementation and results. The results and methods and the nature of how the facilitator works with group members depend on the situation. For example, the facilitator might work in a rather direct role, making prominent suggestions of what the group should do and how to do it. Or, the facilitator might work in a more indirect role by gently noting what the group might do and how to do it. The following resources give more detailed descriptions of facilitation, including suggesting various roles that facilitators might play.

The Role of the Facilitator
Facilitator
Facilitation 101 -- Roles of Effective Facilitators
Group Facilitation
What is a Facilitator?
Role of the Facilitator (in discussion groups)



FACILITATION AS A SERVICE

How Do You Recognize a High-Quality Facilitator?

Facilitation is usually not an activity that follows a standardized, specific procedure. So it's not an activity that many people can quickly ascertain as being done well or not. However, like many services that work to guide and support others toward improvement, there usually is a set of knowledge and skills that most people agree is necessary to be highly competent. The following links suggest certain expertise, and an upcoming section provides a more detailed list.

Facilitation Excellence: The Seven Separators -- What separates top facilitators from good ones?
Facilitator Key Competencies
Four Facilitator Archetypes

Would You Benefit From a Facilitator? What Would It Cost?

Need a Facilitator?
9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Facilitator
Facilitation, Training, Consultation or Do it Yourself?
Hiring a Consultant: Ten Questions to Ask
Reasons to Hire a Professional Facilitator
Cost of Hiring a Facilitator



CORE SKILLS OF A FACILITATOR

Whatever one's beliefs about the best nature of facilitation, the practice usually is best carried out by someone who has strong knowledge and skills regarding group dynamics and processes -- these are often referred to as process skills. Effective facilitation might also involve strong knowledge and skills about the particular topic or content that the group is addressing in order to reach its goals -- these are often referred to as content skills. The argument about how much "process versus content" skills are required by facilitators in certain applications is a very constructive argument that has gone on for years. The following skills are important for facilitators regardless of the type of group or application (groups and applications are listed next in this topic).

Core Interpersonal Skills for Facilitators

Although facilitators work primarily with groups, those groups are comprised of individuals. A good facilitator needs strong expertise in working with individuals as well as groups. The following list includes skills that would be very useful for a facilitator to have.

Body Language
Coaching
Conflict (Interpersonal)
Feedback (Sharing)
Handling Difficult People
Listening
Morale (Boosting)
Motivating
Negotiating
Power and Influence (Managing)
Presenting
Questioning
Trust (Building)
Valuing Diversity

Core Group Skills for Facilitators

Although facilitators work primarily with groups, those groups are comprised of individuals. A good facilitator needs strong expertise in working with individuals as well as groups. The following list includes skills that would be very useful for a facilitator to have.

Group-Based Problem Solving and Decision Making
Group Conflict Management
Group Evaluations
Group Learning
Group Theory and Dynamics
Meeting Management (agendas, ground rules, etc.)
Planning (many kinds, including strategic planning, business planning, etc.)
Team Building
Ten Terrific Tips for Group Facilitation



TYPES OF GROUPS AND APPLICATIONS

Common Types of Groups

There are many types of groups. The following list is to some of the most common. Facilitators should be familiar with purposes and processes used in at least the first grouping of links. The second grouping is becoming common as facilitators work in organizations to guide and support change.

Committees
Dialogue Groups
Discussion Groups
Focus Groups
Teams
Virtual Teams

Large-Scale Interventions
Open-Space Technology
Organizations (undergoing change)
Projects
Self-Directed and Self-Managed Work Teams

Popular Group Applications and Activities

The following list includes many of the most common applications, or purposes of groups, and suggests many of the types of activities in them. Good facilitators will be familiar with the purposes and processes in most of the following.

Action Planning
Brainstorming (for generating many ideas to consider)
Business Planning
Consensus Decision Making
Cost Benefit Analysis (for deciding based on costs)
De Bono Hats (for looking at a situation from many perspectives
Decision Trees (for clarifying and depicting which alternative are derived from which)
Force-Field Analysis (for identifying opposing forces)
Grid Analysis (for choosing among many choices)
Nominal Group Technique (for gathering and condensing among many ideas)
Pareto Principle (for finding the options that will make the most difference -- (20/80 rule") Polarity Map (for "solving" seemingly unsolvable contradictions)
Project Management
Rational Decision Making
Storyboarding (for creative group decision making)
Strategic Planning
SWOT Analysis (to analyze from strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
Voting
Work Breakdown Structure (for organizing and relating many details)



DOING FACILITATION

Preparing to Facilitate

It's difficult to facilitate -- to help group members decide the purpose of their group and how to work toward that purpose -- unless you clearly are ready to facilitate. The following article will help you.
Preparing to Facilitate
How to Approach the Important Role of Facilitator

Ice Breakers and Warmup Activities

Ice breakers and warmup activities help group members to more quickly become comfortable around each other. They're useful in almost any type of group, especially where members do not already know each other well.

Warmup Activities
Anagram Ice Breaking Activity
Icebreakers
10 Ways to Break the Ice
Sizzlin Session Starters
Icebreakers – The Who, What, When and When Not to Do Them
Why Use Icebreakers When There’s No Ice?

Basic Tips for Successful Facilitation

The basic tips in this section are for people who do not seek an in-depth understanding of facilitation, rather they have a few applications in which they would like to facilitate groups.

Facilitating Face-to-Face

Basic Facilitation Primer
When to Facilitate, Train or Coach
Facilitator Competencies
Basic Questions On Facilitation
Basic Facilitation Skills
Secrets of Successful Facilitators
Managers as Facilitators
Ten Terrific Tips for Group Facilitation

Facilitating Online Groups

The ability to facilitate virtual groups -- groups where members use telecommunications to communicate with each other -- is increasingly an important skills for facilitators.

Facilitating and Hosting a Virtual Community
Online Community Toolkit
Facilitator Competencies
Internet Resources From the Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation
Facilitating and Hosting a Virtual Community
The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online

Roberts Rules?

Roberts Rules is comprehensive a set of specific rules by which members of meetings can conduct their meeting process in a very orderly fashion, thereby helping to ensure that members get the most out of meetings. These rules are usually used in very formal meetings, for example, meetings of Boards of Directors. A facilitator is not likely to need expertise in the rules unless his/her clients specifically have adopted them as the procedures to run their meetings. Facilitators can become highly skilled in the set of rules and achieve the status of registered Parliamentarians.
Jim Slaughter, parliamentarian (see his "cheat sheets")
Roberts Rules (the official site)
Rules Online
Trout's Top Ten Rules of Order

Staying Centered During Facilitation

It can be quite a challenge for a facilitator to work with a diverse group of people, sometimes under high-pressure situations, to get clear on what they want to do and how to do it. A good facilitator is not easily unsettled -- the facilitator does not take challenges and conflicts personally. The following links are to resources that can help the facilitator to stay centered -- grounded in the type of person that he or she wants to be when facilitating. Be sure to also review some of the resources in the earlier topics Core Interpersonal Skills for Facilitators and Core Group Skills for Facilitators.

Assertiveness
Attitude
Burnout
Cynicism
Emotional Intelligence
Financial Fitness
Job Satisfaction
Motivating and Inspiring Yourself
Physical Fitness
Self-Confidence
Stress Management
Work-Life Balance



BUSINESS OF FACILITATION

Professionalism and Ethics

Although some of the following links refer to consulting, the guidelines in the resources also apply to practitioners who do facilitating.

Understanding Yourself as an Instrument of Change
Principles for Effective Consulting
Types of Clients (to answer critical question: "who is current client?")
Defining Success Between Consultants and Clients
Ethical Consulting
Boundaries for Consultants
Multicultural Consulting
Minimize Consulting Liabilities and Risk
When to Bail from a Consulting Project
Are You Doing OD? Training? Consulting? Coaching? All of These?
Working on Ourselves, as Consultants
How "Disconnected Conversations" Can Kill Consulting and Collaboration
Daily Tips for Consultants
2011 Management Consulting Salaries
One Project - Multiple Consulting and Freelance Clients
Why I Left McKinsey | Shortcomings of Management Consulting
Why I Left McKinsey | The Benefits of a Consulting Background

Credentials

Becoming a Professional Certified Facilitator
IAF Certification

Starting a Facilitation Business

This subtopic assumes that you already have some expertise in facilitation as described in this overall Library topic, and that you also are thinking about starting a business to be a professional facilitator. The guidelines in this subtopic are focused on helping you to start a new organization, expand a current organization, or start a new service.

Are You Really an Entrepreneur?

Are You Really an Entrepreneur?
Preparation for Starting a New Venture

Starting a New Organization?

Should You Start a For-Profit or a Nonprofit?
Starting a For-Profit Organization
Starring a Nonprofit Organization

Planning Your New Organization

Strategic Planning
Business Planning

Deciding the Legal Structure of Your New Organization

U.S. Enterprise Law -- Forming Organizations

Or Expanding a Current Organization?

Business Development

Or Starting a New Product or Service?

Product Development

Marketing Your Organization, Product or Service

Marketing
Social Networking
Authentic Marketing vs. Self-Promotion

Getting and Keeping Clients

Sales
Customer Service

Customer Satisfaction
Close More Business (Get More Clients)

Getting Paid

Getting Paid What You’re Worth
What To Do When A Client Can’t Pay

Dealing With Clients

Types of Clients (to answer critical question: "who is current client?")
How to Fire a Client (Without Killing Your Business)
Defining Success Between Consultants and Clients

When to Bail from a Project

When to Bail from a Consulting Project

Minimizing Risk

When Should Consultants Buy Liability Insurance?
Minimize Consulting Liabilities and Risk
Risk Management



GENERAL RESOURCES

Various Organizations About Facilitation and With Many Resources

Many of the following organizations also have websites that list many free resources about facilitation.

National

International Association of Facilitators
International Society for Performance Improvement
Institute for Cultural Affairs -- World-Wide
Institute for Cultural Affairs USA and the Technology of Participation (ToP)
Midwest Facilitators' Network
Minnesota Organization Development Network
National OD Network
Project Management Institute (PMI)
Society for Human Resource Management
Facilitation and Process, LLC
Center for the Study of Work Teams
Facilitate.com Facilitation Tips
Tips for Facilitators -- many articles

Local

Minnesota Facilitator's Network
Minnesota Organization Development Network
Southern MN Chapter of American Society for Training & Development (ASTD)
Twin Cities Human Resource Association

Free Facilitation Tools

International Association of Facilitators Methods Database
Numerous Tools and Methods for Problem Solving
Group Discussions
Small Group Skills
Facilitation Techniques - An HPC Resource List


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For the Category of Facilitation and Teams:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books

Leadership and Supervision in Business - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Includes step-by-step guidelines, tips and tools to effectively lead:
1. Yourself
2. Other individuals in the business
3. Groups and teams in the business
4. Business organizations
5. As well as all functions within the business organization.

Many of the Library's materials about business, leadership and management are adapted from this book. Just click on the title of the book above to see the Index and Table of Contents.
Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Includes step-by-step guidelines, tips and tools customized for personnel in nonprofits to effectively lead:
1. Yourself
2. Other individuals in the nonprofit
3. Groups and teams in the nonprofit
4. Nonprofit organizations
5. As well as all functions within the nonprofit organization.

Many of the Library's materials about nonprofit leadership and management are adapted from this book. Just click on the title of the book above to see the Index and Table of Contents.

About Facilitation

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.

About Teams

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Also See

Strategic Planning (Facilitating) -- Recommended Books

Organizational Development (Facilitating) -- Recommended Books




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