What is your situation?
As one of a small group of professional facilitators in St. John’s NL, it is vital for me to understand each company or group I work with.
I always ask them what, specifically, has motivated them to bring in an external facilitator to handle their meeting or strategic planning session.
The answers I hear pretty consistently sound like these…
“We want a neutral voice, so everyone can be confident that the process is objective and not being driven by one side.”
“This is a really complex situation and we want someone to keep us on track, so we don’t get bogged down.”
“We want everyone on the team focused on listening and providing input, rather than steering the meeting or taking notes.”
“We have tried doing this on our own and have had some great discussions, but we just never end up with a clear action plan on what to do next, or know how to move from talking to making things happen.”
Those responses are actually pretty universal. I am a member of the International Association of Facilitators. Both within the IAF and through my own connections, I work with or talk to executives and teams in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. I hear the same types of stories being shared again and again. Organizations of all sizes and in every part of the globe are struggling to keep their actions consistent with their vision. They are challenged to make sure their goals will still be relevant in a complex and ever-changing world.
How can a facilitator help?
You have a lot of knowledge and insight on your team. You understand the objectives and have a good handle on both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. So how could bringing in someone from the outside help?
- Facilitators bring objectivity, perspective, and credibility that are virtually impossible to achieve while using only internal resources. Even the most experienced and well-intentioned executives have sometimes had to face the reality that they are just too involved in a situation to see it objectively.
- Even when the leader does manage to have a clear viewpoint, the other key decision-makers may not be convinced of that. A facilitator from outside the organization can bring confidence that a neutral viewpoint will steer discussions and help formulate decisions.
- A facilitator will spur and focus discussion rather than directly contribute ideas and opinions. If one person or side is dominating conversation or perhaps discouraging other viewpoints, a professional facilitator will recognize that and move things back toward a more balanced discussion, so that any valid complications or potential roadblocks are adequately considered.
- Facilitators can introduce decision-making or conflict-resolution models to help break an impasse or consider things from a new perspective. This can be absolutely invaluable in breathing new life to a discussion that seems to have lost steam or gotten bogged down in a stalemate.
- All too often, teams have left meetings thinking they had a breakthrough, only to realize later that things still could not move forward because of some factor that had not been considered. A facilitator can see the big picture and will help focus everyone on the clear decisions needed to generate actionable outcomes. They are also there to help identify potential roadblocks that might later surface, so that they can be considered and proactively addressed while everyone is together.
Overall, facilitators can bring new expertise and decision-making tools into your session. Just as importantly, they can give your team the confidence that their time will be objective, focused, and productive.
Where do you go from here?
If you can identify with the challenges and opportunities cited above, let’s have a chat to see how you might benefit from the involvement of a professional facilitator. Whether in St. John’s or Saskatoon or some other city around the world, your unique challenges may prove to be not as unique — or unsolvable — as you may have feared.
And hey, if your reasons for being here are different from those mentioned earlier, please let us know that as well, either through a comment below or by contacting me directly. Let’s see what we can do to help you turn your challenges into actionable outcomes. As professional facilitators, that’s what we do!