Although facilitation is defined "to make easier", it does not always mean being a meeting facilitator is easy. Facilitating can be tough; and while there are multiple components of a facilitation ranging from marker color to number of participants, one of the most overlooked is the approach we use while in the room.
Facilitation is not
Facilitation is not lectured based. A Lecture Based Approach includes a constant occurrence of telling, a lack of team interaction, and an environment that makes each individual feel uncomfortable sharing their true thoughts. When someone is told the answer or does not feel psychologically safe, participants cannot fully participate, and as a facilitator, you lose buy-in and accountability from the rest of the team.
Facilitation is just that; facilitation based. A Facilitation Based Approach takes the Adult Learning Theory and puts it into practical action. The most successful facilitators encourage collaboration and goal-setting. They support the team involved to have an open discussion and use each other's experiences and knowledge to find the best and most applicable solutions. Facilitation is more than a theory; it requires practical strategies and tactics.
Active listening is a tactic that focuses on the conversations and responses of the other participant(s). As humans, we sometimes have a tendency to think about, "what am I going to say next?" instead of really listening to the concerns and thoughts of others. When facilitators actively listen, they can then use the information being given to guide the conversation based on the needs of the participants and not themselves.
Rather than telling and following the Lecture Based Approach, facilitators us a different tactic; they ask. Questions encourage answers and require another person to respond. Facilitators take the following into consideration when building conversation:
- Open / closed - Open ended questions allows more space for answers. Closed questions narrow the response down to small of a path.
- Second level questioning - After an initial question, facilitators ask a follow up question. This will help find any underlying context or content.
- Redirecting - If a question was asked to a specific person or group, facilitators spin the question in a form that can then be applicable to the entire team.
- Reflecting - Reflecting questions acknowledges the participants' emotions or words and helps the team feel more connected, heard, and comfortable.
- Summarize - Summarizing with a question or a statement that includes everyone's thoughts will help the team stay on track and better yet, feel engaged and valued.
- Tie back - Tie back questions help bring the bits and pieces of information to light and helps participants connect the dots.
By using these tactics and strategic, facilitators can get the most out of the participants. At People Centric, we focus on what facilitation is and use this approach to cultivate engagement, focus, and accountability. That is why our process simply works.