training leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effective facilitation skills have become a critical leadership component for team-leaders, managers and trainers.  These skills are often referred to as “process” skills and play an important role in enabling groups to work together to achieve desired outcomes.  In today’s business world change is constant and the challenges faced are increasing in complexity.  The pressure to ‘do more with less’ is often present as budgets shrink and resource availability tightens.  As organisations continue to investigate ways to improve current business practices it is becoming clear that investing in people and process skills can unleash powerful resources and results.  Organisations are learning that team members can dramatically contribute to overall organisational success when they are effectively engaged, and true collaboration and innovation are encouraged.

Facilitation is key to the process of creating engagement and accountability for shared team and organisational results.  Facilitated team input ensures people are more motivated to support the decisions made because of their personal investment in the process.  This investment leads to a natural desire to think and act for the overall benefit of the team, and this in turn leads to the understanding that responsibility for implementing decisions lies with everyone.  Negative attitudes, low morale, low involvement, and withholding of information are less likely because everyone is involved in a joint process.

Furthermore, input from a diverse number of people working together usually results in better outcomes than individual efforts through increased innovation and problem-solving skills.  Of course, this is dependent on the facilitation of an environment that meets people’s various individual and social needs through effective facilitation of group dynamics.

What is a Facilitator?

A facilitator is generally responsible for guiding a process that assists a group of people to identify common goals and develop a plan to achieve them.  An effective facilitator takes an unbiased approach to these goals and supports the group in achieving consensus during times of disagreement and to maintain focus on the common goals.

Key Facilitation Skills

A facilitator needs to have a variety of skills and techniques to be effective.  First and foremost they need to initially engage all individuals in the group and then maintain that engagement throughout the process.  They are skilled at creating a supportive and connected environment that encourages maximum participation from many different types of people.  Strong verbal and analytical skills are essential, coupled with the ability to ask the right questions at the appropriate times, and in an appropriate format so as to encourage participation and reflection.  Deep listening and the ability to “reframe” statements to enhance group understanding and highlight areas of agreement and disagreement as they develop are essential.  Above all, a good facilitator maintains continuous awareness on people and process, attending to group and individual dynamics as needed to ensure the current process is always in support of the overall goals and objectives of the session.

Facilitator as Trainer

The facilitator as trainer is a slightly different variation in that the trainer is not entirely unbiased, and in fact, has very particular learning objectives they are hoping to achieve as outcomes for participants.  The core skills listed above are all critical, with the addition of the need to balance not just people and process, but also content.  The facilitator as trainer is responsible not only for providing specific content, but also for skilfully drawing content from participants and sharing the wisdom of the group.

The facilitator as trainer creates the context for learning, ensuring the learning goals are clearly understood within participants’ individual contexts.   They are responsible for creating a learning pathway that is meaningful and providing effective learning processes for group learning.  The facilitator as trainer presents new information in a way that is creative, engaging and challenging.  When training and facilitation skills are used well participants leave a training program with increased confidence and are inspired and enthusiastic about opportunities for applying their learning in the real world.

What makes for a great training program or learning experience?  The answer to that question could be a lot of things – the content, the learning experience, the participants in the class, etc.  If you think back to a workshop that you truly enjoyed, it is usually when you have felt free to fully participate and engage with the process… This is a feeling that only a skilled trainer with excellent facilitation skills is able to consistently deliver to participants.

VM Learning caters specifically for facilitation skills for those delivering training.  Facilitation Skills for Trainers, is a program that has received outstanding results over the past decade and is scheduled as a Public Workshop for the beginning of 2015. For more  information about this program, and to register your interest, please click here.