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Tips: How to facilitate

By JAMES COAKES Published 20th Mar 2015
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Facilitation of activities, for example team building challenges, is a stage above instructing them. Participants are told how to complete an activity but then they are taken a stage further to investigate how the activity went for their team and how that links to team performance back at work.

Good facilitators are very skilled and have lots of experience that they can draw on to make sessions effective, powerful and relevant to participants. However, if you';re put on the spot and need something more than 'what worked / what didn't work?' as a model then there are some effective techniques that can be relied on.

In the activity environment the best information comes not from the activity instructor but from the participants themselves. The reason for this is simple: it’s highly relevant to them.

Here is a simple approach to facilitating activities.

Facilitating leadership:-

How was the leadership good in that session?
How could it have been better?
How does it relate to what happens at work?

Facilitating teamwork:-

How did you work together well in that session?
How could it have been better?
How does it relate to what happens at work?

Facilitating change:-

How did you adapt to challenges in that session?
How could you have done it better?
How does it relate to what happens at work?

You will need to change the launguage of the questions to turn it into a natural discussion; no-one wants to think that they’re dealing with someone who is working from a script. These questions after a half hour activity can lead to another half hour of discussion – or more.

Effectively this involves breaking down the discussion into different areas such as leadership and teamwork. Some will be more relevant to the team than others and they will simply want to spend less time on some answers than others.

The key is that you find a way of lining what happened to challenges that the team may be facing in their work activities. This is when instruction turns into facilitation.

The key thing is to make sure that any issues that the team is having are fully understood before the event. If a team has serious problems then it is essential that a professional facilitator with experience is brought in. If a can of worms is opened it needs someone who understands how to close it to be present, otherwise this sort of event can do more harm than good.

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