The role of a facilitator in family business
Source: Linda K. Fairburn ~ Make Things Happen
What Is a Facilitator?
A facilitator is someone you engage to lead a meeting with the responsibility to help your group reach its goals and objectives. A facilitator should be acceptable to all members of your group and be perceived as a neutral person. Facilitators generally have no formal decision making authority. Instead, their main function is to help your group increase its effectiveness by staying on track and improving its process.
What Kinds of Groups Do Facilitators Work With?
Facilitation skills are ubiquitous and an important aspect of training, consulting, mediation and coaching. Even if they don’t formally serve in the role of facilitator, each of the aforementioned professions require some level of facilitation ability to help the groups or individuals they work with articulate the reasons for their actions. These groups include:
* Top management teams
* Business-owning families
* Employee management groups
* Work teams
* Task forces
* Not-for-profit groups
* Committees, and
Are There Different Kinds of Facilitation Assignments?
Yes, there are several types of facilitation work: basic, developmental and advanced facilitation. Basic facilitation is just that — leading the meeting. Basic facilitation helps a group to temporarily improve its process long enough to solve a specific problem and reach its objective. Examples of this kind of facilitation are information sharing meetings, strategic planning and establishment of long-term goals.
Developmental facilitation helps a group learn how to continually and permanently improve its process so that it can solve problems on its own in the future. There is a training aspect to this type of facilitation where the client takes on some of the responsibilities of facilitation while the facilitator shifts to a role of providing real-time feedback and performance coaching.
Advanced facilitation is more challenging because the goals and relationships increase in complexity. This is referred to as group process consulting. Advanced practitioners, skilled at working with interpersonal relationships and emotions, bring conflict resolution, mediation and remedial teambuilding skills to the process.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Facilitator?
Facilitators are responsible for “how” the meeting goes—the “process.” The process has two parts: tasks and relationships. It is the facilitator's responsibility to understand the complexity of your goals and lead you across the finish line. Facilitator task responsibilities include:
* Regulating time frames
* Establishing behavioral guidelines
* Idea generation techniques
* Decision-making methods
* Problem-solving steps, and
* Testing for agreement.
Facilitators are responsible for the interpersonal dynamics in the room by maintaining good relationships during the meeting through observing, moderating, encouraging and/or interrupting:
* Power dynamics
* Influence factors
* Dysfunctional behaviors
* Problem members
* Risk taking, and
* Anger management
What Are Your Responsibilities As the Client?
As the client, you’re responsible for the “content” of the meeting and commitment to the process. You set the goals, objectives and tasks of the group. In addition you have ownership of the outcome of the meeting(s). We call this the “what.” Generally, facilitators don’t make contributions to the content unless they have relevant professional credentials such as in organization development, industry specialty or subject matter expertise.
What Tools Do Facilitators Use In Their Work?
All facilitation begins by interviewing significant stakeholders to gather relevant information, objectives, and expectations and set the agenda. This could mean speaking with one or all individuals involved with the meeting.
Facilitators can increase a group’s awareness, develop skills and/or change behaviors by using self-knowledge instruments and experiential learning exercises.
Self-knowledge instruments are used to help groups understand some aspect of their interpersonal dynamics. Questionnaires can increase awareness, create understanding and engender respect for individuals’ similarities or differences within the group around personality, social identity, learning preferences, thinking styles, leadership, conflict resolution, problem-solving and decision-making styles.
Experiential learning activities are ones designed to provide insight about how the group works together. For example, an educational component can teach new skills, behaviors and perspectives that are relevant to the current situation or issue and build capacity for the group to solve its own problems in the future. Some of the topics suited to these activities are communication skills, decision-making, problem solving, and simulations — really, there is no limit.
When Do You Need a Group Process Consultant?
Group process consultants are advanced practitioners who make reasoned and intentional inputs into the ongoing events and dynamics of the group with the purpose of helping it to expand its awareness of dysfunctional and unproductive behaviors.
Group process facilitation is not group therapy. Over time, when, the energy required to suppress negative feelings is not available to the individual or the organization it can result in a buildup of resentment or interpersonal conflict and loss of productivity. The purpose of dealing with emotions in facilitation is to free the stuck energy and help the group in becoming more effective at its work. In this type of facilitation resolving interpersonal conflict is the group’s sole objective.
What Are the Skills and Competencies Required By a Group Process Consultant?
Process consultants have additional special training, skills and experience to work responsibly and appropriately with emotional issues.
A highly skilled group process consultant will have competencies in academic theory, behavioral skills, intervention skills and a significant amount of self-knowledge. Why self-knowledge? Because a facilitator cannot lead a group anywhere that he or she is unwilling to go his or herself. For example, a facilitator who has unresolved issues with anger or strong emotions will have great discomfort working with yours.
Academic Theory in
– Organization development
– Group dynamics
– Group process consultation
– Client con