facilitator leader checklist

How do your co-workers or employees act during a brainstorm, staff meeting, or other structured group activity? Do you feel a sense of stress or disengagement? Are people listening and preparing to contribute – or are they working toward a competitive throw down?

Rather than deciding that these all too common adverse reactions are simply due to poor character, perhaps consider that poor participation may not be the problem – it may be the symptom of an issue with the structure and management of the group activities. Chances are if you see these symptoms, the group is also struggling to reach consensus, meet goals, and have productive conversations. Luckily, the solution is as clear as understanding what a facilitator can do for you.

Situations Where a Good Facilitator Can Help You

A talented, well-trained professional facilitator has a fundamental set of soft skills and techniques that can enable them to transform structured group sessions from unproductive and frustrating, to productive and positive. From a functional standpoint, there are many processes a facilitator can improve, including:

  • Strategic planning
  • Team building
  • Conference planning and execution
  • Issue resolution
  • Process improvement
  • Focus groups
  • Partnering sessions

For any of these tasks, a skilled facilitator will bring a unique and targeted skill set that will drive toward better outcomes.

The 5 Things a Good Facilitator Can Do

Think of the following skill set as a checklist – ask your prospective facilitator how he or she performs each of these necessary functions to determine whether you are enlisting the appropriate professional.

  1. Sets the Stage for a Focused and Attentive Meeting
    Even with an agenda, group activities can stray from the listed tasks or become monotonous. A facilitator begins with a clear goal for the meeting accompanied by advanced presentation tools and skills that encourage participation.
  2. Leads with Organization and Efficiency
    Sometimes meetings can stay on task but become too bogged down in minor details, which may turn an hour meeting into a marathon of a day. Facilitators direct the conversation by clarifying the bigger picture to keep everyone focused on a realistic action plan.
  3. Allows for Comfort and Diffuses Tension
    Most likely, you are planning a group activity to receive new ideas and feedback from others. Attendees often aim to please the group or leader, to the detriment of the outcome. If participants are focused on trying to make people happy, chances are they aren’t contributing value. They may be apprehensive to share creativity or could even feel tension if there is a competitive atmosphere. Facilitators create a comfortable environment where people are encouraged to offer input in an unbiased manner. They nurture participants’ individual strengths by instilling that everyone’s participation is right and adding to the desired outcome.
  4. Displays Intuitive Skills through Listening
    Every group is different. Being an active listener is a key skill facilitators use to understand the group environment. Once they have analyzed the situation, facilitators have an arsenal of techniques to apply fluidly without the traditional structural limitations. Instead of being reactive or dominating, facilitators connect to the group by being unbiased and responsive.
  5. Builds Consensus to Achieve Goals
    One of the most critical times a facilitator can guide the group conversation is when a direction is needed to arrive at a consensus. The goal might be to agree on a decision, a series of next steps, or actionable ideas. Often, the group will discuss possible outcomes without reaching an agreement. Without this critical piece, the meeting is not fruitful. Your success reflects the facilitator’s success. A facilitator should understand the transformational process necessary to conclude with a mutually agreed upon consensus.

Professional facilitators can lead any group through the above processes and outcomes. The skills can also be learned through committing to the proper training services. This kind of change is more than an improvement – it’s an investment towards a more efficient organization or event.

To invest in your goals, our team of facilitators is at your disposal. Please contact us, chat us, or call us at 1-877-212-2361. To develop your own facilitation skills, our sister company, Leadership Strategies offers the training and resources to help you.