Team Facilitation

A crucial role for team leaders

Team Facilitation

A crucial role for team leaders

Good team facilitation starts with being clear about the content of the meeting or workshop: what it is that you are facilitating?

Think back over any flawed meetings and workshops you’ve attended in the past. How many meetings failed or were ineffective because it wasn’t clear what they were meant to achieve? That’s assuming there really was a proper purpose behind them in the first place!

This article is part of our short series on structured facilitation approaches. It’s based on the idea that structured facilitation can be categorised into three strands relating to content, process and skills:

  • Content of Team Facilitation – what is the purpose of the team and the facilitation approach;
  • Process for Structured Workshops – the structure and steps used to facilitate the meeting;
  • Skills needed for Workshop Facilitation – the skills needed/used to facilitate the process of a structured workshop.
Content for team facilitation

By content we’re referring to more than topics being discussed. We think it’s actually the whole substance of the meeting. What is it for specifically and what is the meeting about in its broadest context? For example:

  • Why has the meeting been called?
  • What is the context of the meeting? (specific issues or in relation to broader organisational or business environment issues);
  • What needs to be done?
  • Who should do it?
  • When does it need to be done?
  • What information is needed.

The content is the primary reason for your meeting. However, it’s equally important to ensure you have brought the right people together.

People for team facilitation

Those people who are able to discuss the content effectively. Reg Revans, best known for his work on action learning, suggested three simple and powerful questions to help you get the right people together. Ask yourself:

  • Who knows? – about the situation/opportunity, or who has the information we need to solve it/realise it;
  • Who cares? – that something is done about it;
  • Who can? – do something about what happens next – who can take action?

If getting the right people together is important, then so is doing your groundwork before the meeting. Knowledge of the matter to be discussed is crucial, so it’s worth ensuring you’ve gathered enough information to make the meeting as productive as possible. Make sure it achieves what it was called to achieve in the first place.

Ask people to do their own ground-work on the topic for discussion – come prepared. Getting the content right is also about ensuring clarity. Make sure that everybody is clear and agrees on both the purpose of the meeting, and their individual roles. Addressing clarity before a meeting starts can reduce the likelihood of differing expectations from those in attendance. For example, prior to the team facilitation event, you may:

  • Propose areas for attendees to think about and pose questions;
  • Suggest they come prepared to air their own views and questions.

There are many ways in which you might discuss the content of the meeting but good team facilitation also requires the selection of an appropriate process to match the content being dealt with. Having clear processes to guide your approach to differing kinds of content are critical, and a core element in adopting a structured facilitation approach. Follow the link to the next article in this short series on effective team facilitation: Structured Workshops – the structure and steps used to facilitate a meeting.

Tools to help your workshop facilitation skills

If you want to get better at leading team development, this article is a good place to start. But if you want to take your team leadership to the next level, here is a great set of tools to get you on your way.

For example, you might want to facilitate a meeting which encourages your team to build a shared understanding of what teamwork means in your specific context. That is, what it means to your team and more widely, to your organisation.

To do this though, words are often not enough. Building teamwork is also about what you do, starting with that shared understanding of teamwork, and agreeing together what you value.

That’s exactly what our “teamwork definition” tool is designed to do. You’ll find this tool, plus a wealth of other resources for team leaders in our colossal Team Building Bundle.

Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than define teamwork, build it!

Why is Teamwork Important
Build a Better Team
The Problems with Teams
Team Health Check
Team Building Exercises
Leading with Style and Focus
What’s the Problem?
Making Better Decisions

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