There are occasions in every team’s life when they face big decisions. Sometimes the sheer complexity of the business environment leaves people reeling. At times like these, having an impartial external team facilitator can pay impressive dividends, working closely with everyone involved to generate the best possible decisions and outcomes.
Facilitation, known as the art of hosting, in other words creating an environment and process within where people feel sufficiently safe and supported to disclose what they’re thinking and feeling. Facilitation of important meetings can provide the framework for your sessions and the context in which your group can move forwards in a different way.
For more on this, why not read our choosing a facilitator post?
The benefits of external facilitation
Forming a partnership with a skilled external facilitator can deliver tangible benefits.
- Building an appropriate team process to help you address priorities and concerns.
- Generating the freedom people need to focus on important discussions.
- Giving people the confidence that the team process is being led with a high degree of skill and sensitivity.
- Keeping the team on track so they can focus on navigating a way through the tough decisions.
If you’re a manager or a team leader, you may well benefit from the reassurance of collaborating with someone who will create a conducive atmosphere for productive decision-making. When you involve an external team facilitator, it can make your life easier, as well as benefit the whole team. Because the facilitator is there to maintain the structure of the meeting, everyone, not just you, can focus on those important issues.
How does a team facilitator work?
The facilitator will be highly engaged and yet apart. Their objectivity (inherent in their role) can provide relevant, new insight for you and your team. They are often adept at asking questions that uncover what is obvious once described – revealing what might be hidden in plain sight.
They will collaboratively steer the group in different directions. The team facilitator may do this through sharing what they are observing about the team process. They might describe what they think is missing from the group in the way they are currently relating. They may suggest slowing down or speeding up the group interactions.
A facilitator’s interventions can create a significant shift in the dynamics of a group by introducing new ideas, different ways of interacting and thinking. This influences how the team operates. They will catalyse change then help your team to embed the new ways of working
A skilled team facilitator can have an immediate positive effect on team dynamics. They will also help you shift any stubborn patterns of group behaviour. It adds to the team’s collective emotional intelligence. They help everyone around the table remain present and stay focused, so their attention is directed solely towards the matter in hand.
The team facilitator can offer some alternative approaches and or introduce a reflective time before actions are agreed. They may uncover hidden team assumptions. Whatever they do, their interventions will be designed to move the group forwards and to harness their knowledge and collective capabilities.
This will free you and the team up. You will be able to embark upon those critical discussions and important decisions. meanwhile, the facilitator makes sure the group process is working and everyone has a voice. The result is well worth having – successful outcomes steered in the right direction by a more cohesive group.
A team facilitator is, therefore, an engine for change, someone who will re-energise the group, trigger fresh thinking and help the people around the table generate new solutions to previously seemingly intractable problems.
Creating this atmosphere stimulates people to raise and resolve concerns that have rumbled on, discuss difficult or controversial issues and work together towards a solution.
How does a facilitator usually set up their time with you?
- Typically, the facilitator will meet you, as the manager or leader of the team. This ensures they understand the outcomes that need to be delivered. Then they build a process to reflect your agenda and deliver what you want.
- The process might be as straightforward as chairing a meeting or as involved as meeting all the key stakeholders to sense-check their understanding.
- If this is the case, having consulted with you, the facilitator may spend time with each team member of the team or set up a call with key stakeholders. This is an exploration and perspective gathering initial phase of the facilitator’s work. Also, the purpose will be to introduce themselves and to hear from each person about their hopes and concerns for the team event or important meeting ahead. Whatever your circumstances, specific needs and unique non-negotiables, they’ll form the context for the intervention.
- They will scope out the project clearly for you at the beginning of the initiative.
Focusing upon what matters most
Engaging the services of an external facilitator can catalyse sharper thinking, better decisions, problem-solving and more creativity in your team. They will often use humour and challenge the group constructively. Above all, whatever the context, they will ensure that your team is centred upon what upon what matters most.
If you think a great team facilitator could help you, please contact us to discuss the possibility.