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Structured Facilitation – Leading Team Development

Using a structured facilitation approach is one way to ensure team meetings are effective – a crucial issue for any manager.

Facilitation is often seen as a neutral role, using guidance and encouragement tactics to help team members to achieve any objectives of the meeting. However, properly used, there is nothing neutral about the potential power of effective facilitation. It can do more than help the team to meet objectives.

Using a structured facilitation approach can help bring out the best in any team. In our series on team development we have developed the STAR team performance model to help leaders develop and get the best from their teams.

The ability to facilitate is one crucial skill required of team leaders if they want to deliver STAR performance. The use of structured facilitation can greatly improve the sense of engagement felt by team members, another important factor in team performance.

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;

Process skills needed for Workshop Facilitation – the skills needed/used to facilitate the process of a structured workshop.

structured facilitation

The use of structured facilitation can greatly improve the sense of engagement felt by team members, another important factor in team performance. It’s one way for team leaders to maximise the benefits of both better teamwork and the specific strengths of the individual team members.

All three strands need to be in place, and even with good facilitation skills a meeting can still result in frustration if the content hasn’t been clear or a structured process hasn’t been employed.

In team facilitation we discuss the importance of content. Considering what the meeting is about, knowing what you are discussing, why you are doing it, and who needs to be a part of the team. However, different topics or content may require different processes. So to facilitate effectively you need to be able to select an appropriate process to match the content you are dealing with.

Structured workshops are about getting the process right. This article explores different kinds of team meeting/workshop processes, from decision making, problem solving and continuous improvement to processes for idea generation and training and development.

Having processes that are both clear and appropriate for differing content can be beneficial in other ways. They can mean you need not be worried about the structure of the meeting but are free to focus on its most important aspect: good workshop facilitation skills. At the core of effective structured facilitation is the need for good process skills. Without them the full potential of the team’s contributions cannot be achieved. Process skills are those skills needed to ensure that both content and process are combined to achieve the best outcome from any meeting.

Ensuring meetings are properly focused and run, whilst achieving optimum participation by team members, is not an easy thing. Effective facilitation is a very helpful and powerful technique for engaging teams, but it can also be a difficult skill to master. This is why a structured approach is so important. You need good process skills to manage the meeting content using a structured process, appropriate for the kind of content you are discussing. Then you’ll be in a position to reap the benefits of gathering resourceful people together in a team setting.


Tools for leading team development

Our colossal Teamwork Bundle!

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 lead your team development!

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