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A facilitator is someone who skillfully helps a group of people understand their common objectives and plan to achieve them without personally taking any side of the argument. The facilitator will try to assist the group in achieving a consensus on any disagreements that preexist or emerge in the meeting so that it has a strong basis for future action.
The role has been likened to that of a midwife who assists in the process of creation but is not the producer of the end result.
The basic skills of a facilitator are about following good meeting practices: timekeeping, following an agreed-upon agenda, and keeping a clear record. The higher-order skills involve watching the group, its individuals, and their process, and knowing the art of intervening in a way that adds to the group's creativity rather than taking away from it.
A successful facilitator embodies respect for others and a watchful awareness of the many layers of reality in a human group.
In the event that a consensus cannot be reached then the facilitator would assist the group in understanding the differences that divide it.
The role of a facilitator[edit | edit source]
Some of the things facilitators do to assist a meeting:[edit | edit source]
- Reminding the group of the amount of time remaining
- Helping the group decide what ground rules it wants to follow and reminding them of these when they are not followed
- Reminding the group of the objectives of the meeting or session
- Setting up a safe environment where members feel comfortable contributing ideas
- Guiding the group through processes designed to help them listen to each other and create solutions together
- Asking open-ended questions that stimulate thinking
- Tentatively paraphrasing individual contributions to check understanding and ensure they are heard by the whole group
- Tentatively summarizing a recent part of the discussion
- Recording agreements reached in large script on the wall so all can see and agree on the wording
- Recording the current issues within the group in large script on the wall using phrases agreed by the group
- Offering a possible wording for an unspoken question that may currently beset the group
- Ensuring the group doesn't settle for the first thing that they can agree on because they find it painful to go on disagreeing with each other
- Offering opportunities for less forceful members to come forward with contributions
- Ensuring that actions agreed by the group to carry out its decisions are written up in a large script on the wall for all to see and are assigned to individuals
Some things that facilitators don't do:[edit | edit source]
- Back a particular opinion voiced in the group
- Offer their own opinions
- Let the group unconsciously shy away from a difficult area
- Lead the group towards what he/she thinks is the right direction
Different roles of Trainer and Facilitator[edit | edit source]
Many people confuse the term facilitator and trainer. Unlike the facilitator the trainer does take an active role and guides the group through an agenda designed to transmit a body of knowledge.
References[edit | edit source]
- Sandy Schuman (Editor). The IAF Handbook of Group Facilitation: Best Practices from the Leading Organization in Facilitation. Jossey-Bass, 2005. ISBN 0-7879-7160-X
- Roger Schwarz (Author); The Skilled Facilitator; Jossey-Bass ; ISBN 0-7879-4723-7 (New & Revised July 2002)
[edit | edit source]
- The International Association of Facilitators
- The International Association of Facilitators Methods Database
- The Group Facilitation Listserver at the University of Albany NY
- The Master Facilitator Journal: e-zine for facilitators
For other meanings of the word facilitator see Facilitator (disambiguation).
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