Whether you are a team leader, manager, consultant or trainer, it is critical for you to facilitate team meetings, events or workshops from time to time. Based on thousands of hours of working experience with teams, I will suggest a few important guidelines to you. This can ease the pressure and help you achieve your desired goals.
Nobody in a team likes uncertainty. Your team needs clarity on the goals or outcomes that they are trying to achieve. Make sure that goals are discussed fully and agreed.
Focus on Results:
It is fairly easy for facilitators to get distracted by something within or outside the team. Don’t drift off the point or go off on a tangent. Keep the focus on the goals or outcomes to make sure the session stays on track.
Listen, Listen and Listen:
When facilitating, make sure that you are listening not just to what is being said, but how it is being said. Paying attention to the non-verbal signs, like the overall energy level or atmosphere in the room, is as important as the verbal signs. Stay alert and listen with every fiber of your body.
The worst thing for a facilitator is to be perceived as a party to a conflict between team members. Facilitators need to understand that their role is to facilitate the discussion, bring out the ideas and encapsulate them. They are not part of the group or team and they need to stay neutral. This means keeping your own views unbiased and not taking sides.
Sometimes participants cannot remember all the important points. I always find it useful to give them a summary of what we accomplished together. This helps to keep the group focused and on-track, and provide foundations to build on.
In the beginning, almost all leaders set some basic rules. The problem is that these rules are broken, not followed, or violated time and again by the members. We have seen facilitators breaking their own rules. Agree a set of ground rules with the group and make sure that they are prominently displayed so that they can be used as a reference point in the event of disputes.
Nothing can be achieved without the involvement of workshop participants in a team-building program. It is the first and foremost responsibility of a facilitator to find ways of engaging people, especially those who are less vocal, as they often have valuable contributions to make and just need a little encouragement to voice them.