Tips of a good facilitator

The necessary tips to enhance work sessions.

I want you to think about the last work session you had with your team.
How did it go? Did you reach the goal? Did people pay attention? Did you feel they could have contributed more? Couldn’t you think of anything to solve the problem?….I’m sure more things came up that could be improved.

What can we do to improve these working sessions and make them more operative? This is where the figure of the facilitator comes in.

A good facilitator is the “leader of the meeting”, an essential figure. He or she is in charge of guiding people through the design processes, keeping all participants connected to each other and ensuring their interaction in an equitable way to generate democratic spaces during decision making.

Facilitating is about creating powerful conversations among participants.

In addition to ensuring that objectives are met on time, he or she is the person who provides the keys to maintaining smooth communication inside and outside the company, teaching how to create safe work environments.

Here are 10 key tips for being a good facilitator:

  1. Define the focus and make the objective concrete: challenges often pose generic and complex problems. As facilitators, before thinking of a solution, we must turn it into a design challenge and specify what our objective is in order to develop solutions that really bring value to the client.

  2. Encourage group energy: some people feel uncomfortable in environments with unfamiliar people. Therefore, it is important to develop dynamics with which they can feel safe and comfortable. These are 15′ exercises in which participants will have the opportunity to get to know each other, which will encourage active participation.

  3. Cultivate creativity: creativity is innately born in us, there are times when we think that we are not creative or that we do not have good ideas, however, the problem is that we need a change of attitude. We must remind participants that the solution lies in empowerment. Creativity must be enhanced, it is a matter of practice, it is cultivated and trained, launching ideas without fear of failure.

  4. Quantity of ideas is more important than quality: when the team face with moments of divergence, the aim is to get ideas flowing. To do this, we must emphasize that we are all sailing in the same boat and let ideas flow freely. It is time to encourage free thinking and let people express themselves without fear. It is not a time to judge, but to contribute!

  5. Help to get rid of the fear of failure: failure is implicit, before finding an idea that works, we have had to try and discard many previous ones. Help participants to free themselves from fear. When they make a mistake, encourage them to analyze why they made the mistake and what led them there, making them understand that failure is common to all human beings.

  6. Make it clear that you are going to judge the content, not the people: the mission of a good facilitator is to help the group to get the best out of each one of them. However, there are people who are offended when their idea is not selected or is not liked. Be kind and comprehensive with the participants, but also make it clear that you are judging the ideas, not the people.

  7. Hold on to the process, not to the knowledge: it doesn’t matter if you have no notion of the topic at hand because a facilitator is not a participant. Sometimes, the more knowledge you have about the topic, the more you run the risk of leading him or her to what he or she knows. Therefore, it is important to keep your distance and help participants to tangibilize what they know, not to create with them.

  8. Select your dance partner well, or you will stumble: the mission of a facilitator is to select or understand what profiles you have in the session, as people understand creativity differently. Everyone has their own way of solving problems. So this will help you to understand the behaviour of the participants.

  9. Opening or closing the focus?: it is essential to make it clear where you are mentally. That is, ask the team whether they are in a divergence or convergence phase. Before getting frustrated, ask yourself if everyone is on the same roadmap.

  10. Fewer templates and more questions: it is easier for the facilitator to use templates when leading a workshop. On the other hand, sometimes they get stuck. When facilitating small groups, you can take advantage of this to work with thought-provoking questions, and if they are good, they generate quality post-its. The questions come from you, the templates are given to you by us.

At Thinkers Co. we think that the figure of the facilitator is key to enhance working sessions. You can see an example of how to guide processes to raise challenges in this post “Dynamics to define opportunities” where we go a little deeper into types of dynamics that this profile should handle.

If you want to acquire more skills such as learning how to energize teams, working sessions or guide design processes do not hesitate to contact us.

Published at 04/11/2021

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