Facilitation skills can be used in many settings – running Board/Staff meetings, strategic planning, problem solving meetings, even conducting performance evaluations. The mission of facilitation is to disclose the facts, and the truth, which means the leader, must be objective and unbiased. If this demeanor cannot be attained, it is better to contract for an outside facilitator.
In a March 13, 2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal there was a whole section on WORKPLACE TECHNILOGY, “How is AI (Artificial Intelligence) Transforming the Workplace”. The premise is that in the future managers will decide who to hire, how employees might work together on special teams, how they might be evaluated – even predicting how long employees will stay or leave – based on the analysis of mounds of data and a search for certain patterns. This is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential.
Working on this article about the use of facilitation skills led me to conclude that the future must be even more open, transparent with how people work together in this new world. With leaders facilitating how decisions are made, goals are determined, may help to retain trust and faith in the leadership and ultimately the organization. Here are some tips for successful facilitation practices.
Getting started: Setting expectations is an important part of getting started. The facilitator should state the purpose of the meeting and what outcomes might be expected at the end of working together. If confidentiality is an issue, the leader must ensure that ‘what’s said in this room, stays in the room’. If the facilitator is the boss, it is critical to state that she/he will be non-judgmental and unbiased in the discussion.
Asking good questions: Asking good questions takes skill and practice, especially for the facilitator. They must further the truth and circumstances, but remain non-judgmental and unbiased. Open-ended questions are a good start. For example, it is better to ask, “What led up to this situation”, than “How did Jane get involved in this situation?” But the follow-on questions can be a challenge. Here are some examples:
- Can you tell us more?
- Can you give us an example?
- What led you to that conclusion?
- What should we do next?
Facts and Evidence: The purpose of good facilitation is to put the audience at ease. They must have enough facts to understand the subject and can make an educated conclusion about the decision.
Final expectations: Facilitators owe it to an audience to summarize the discussions and answer the question “where do we go from here?” After taking time to elicit an audience’s opinions and knowledge, it is respectful of their time to be clear about outcomes. They really expect that.
I urge you to read the WSJ section. It is startling – especially for privacy issues. Successful working relationships are built on trust and respect. The future workplace rules will need to consider inhuman data and maintain respect, trust and privacy – a challenge for good facilitation skills.
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Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org