- a tool used during the search for a solution to a problem through team negotiations, before the parties to the conflict come to a deadlock;
- it is a set of skills for managing meetings, which may be used by anyone to improve effectiveness.
- supports the team in the process of learning, creative problem solving, decision making, planning, management and leadership;
- is based on two pillars of skills: one includes interpersonal skills and self-awareness, while the other one is the ability to work with the group process;
- is focused on the process rather than the end-goal; less hierarchical than a trainer or consultant.
WHAT IS FACILITATION?
Facilitation is an approach used in the situations of group problem solving and decision making. This is a teamwork method during which the potential of all the people is released and the final result is objectively the best that could possible be achieved.
This involves such work with the group, which makes it creative, involved and ready to be accountable for the solutions. It follows from the experience of my clients that this is a problem for all those who conduct workshops and meetings – what to do to make people involved.
Facilitation is a way of counteracting such adverse phenomena as ineffective meetings, unclear objectives or lack of communication in teams – these are the three main reasons behind the losses suffered by companies, according to the Microsoft Office Survey. The same follows from our experience and the information from our clients.
SCHOOL OF FACILITATION
We are now more than halfway through the first school of facilitation in Poland, organised in cooperation with the Jagiellonian University. This is a major challenge – the participants come from various companies, from various levels of organisations, have different experience, expectations and levels of readiness. It is all the more important for our school to offer a variety of approaches to learning and teaching. This involves, on the one hand, specific tools to be used right away, and on the other hand, work through experience to learn appropriate openness, necessary in the facilitator’s attitude.
Our school combines facilitation tools and the group process, developing basic facilitation skills as described by John Heron, such as revealing emotions, confrontation and appreciation, structuring, assigning meaning and planning. We discuss the skillful balancing between the knowledge of and following the group process and using the tools, structures and tasks.
We emphasise the preparation of a facilitator before the very activity – we teach the participants to form a three-way contract among the client, group and the facilitator. We expand the knowledge on the stages of team development and on resistance, experiencing everything on our own, because Pathways method involves learning by doing, which results in better understanding of the group dynamics. We devote a lot of attention to the role of the facilitator; from our perspective his/her particular function is to reduce the tension in a group and minimise the fear, because only then can involvement and creative thinking appear. We learn to recognise the symptoms of resistance, its informative function and constructive ways of dealing with it.
The school is divided into three parts – beginning (building trust and openness), central part (work with resistance) and ending (bridge between the workshops and work).
Theoretical lectures – prepared also by the participants – to complete their knowledge.
Facilitation is a process in which the group shifts from complete control (hierarchic facilitations style) towards autonomy. Our role, as the facilitators, is to support this process. Our group shifts towards autonomy on its own; Maria Kołodziejczyk and myself, as facilitators, support this tendency and follow the group at its own pace.
CONTRIBUTION OF THE INSTITUTE OF APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY AT THE JAGIELLONIAN UNIVERSITY
The contribution of the University involves research as part of the School of Facilitation: “diagnosing resources and obstacles in the context of work environment and individual traits”. The aim of the study is to define the individual potential to hold the role of the facilitator and diagnosing the work environment in the context of resources and obstacles. Understanding mechanisms that support and inhibit the process of facilitation will constitute an important contribution in the development of the facilitator’s competences and the ability to use the facilitation tools.
FACILITATION – INDIVIDUAL RESULTS:
- effectively conducting workshops, meetings, task sessions, ended with actions and high involvement of participants in performing them;
- managing the emotions of the uninvolved participants of the meetings as well as those who tend to dominate, which makes it possible to use the potential of all the attendees;
- building programmes of trainings, workshops, meetings;
- dealing with unpredictable situations – changing the programme as it goes, focusing on the objective of the programme;
- confidence while guiding the group;
- collecting information and feedback from the group;
- planning and executing the contracting stage, which is of particular importance if the expected results are unclear or if the organisation is politicised,
- understanding and recognising the stages of the group process;
- team coaching;
- activating skills, techniques and exercises which lead the team on towards the goal of the meeting (workshop, training) ;
- creating one’s own exercises adjusted to the goals and group characteristics;
- increasing individual interpersonal competences related to working with a group;
- ability to work with conflict on the level of individual people and organisations.
FACILITATION – RESULTS FOR THE ORGANISATION:
- building organisational culture BASED ON DIALOGUE;
- building the INTEGRITY of the team and organisation;
- improving COMMUNICATION understood as information flow;
- improving THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS;
- building RELATIONS IN THE TEAMS;
- introducing the IDEA OF A LEARNING ORGANISATION.