The Responsibilities of the Facilitator
The facilitator takes responsibility for the flow of communication between the group. Numbers in a group may range from three or four and upwards. The facilitator determines the length of time of the meeting with prior agreement from the group.
The facilitator outlines the theme for the group, offer an overview and express aspects of the theme. The themes need to be rather specific rather than a general topic.
There is a minutes silence to reflect on the theme. At the end of the small group meeting, there is a minute’s silence. The facilitator invites the group to give three minutes feedback to the facilitator. It is his or her task only to listen!.
One of the vital functions of the facilitator is his or her ability to ask questions, the right kind of questions, and perhaps encourage others in the group to ask each other, including the facilitator, questions. This provides the opportunity for everybody to learn from each other.
Options around questions include who, what, why, where, when and how. Questions tend to me most effective when they are short, free from a lengthy preamble, to the point, and in a language directly related to what is said. Questions can help to keep the group on track, amplify a particular point or as part of an overview of the situation.
The facilitator is not afraid to ask awkward questions while sustaining a thoughtful and interested attitude in what she or he asks and with the response.
Solutions to problematic issues may seem far away during periods of a meeting. Nevertheless, the group can work together. The facilitator allows for time and exploration to see if the resolution starts to emerge naturally in the field of dependent arising circumstances.
The facilitator develops the capacity to
lead as well as facilitator,
use language skilfully,
reflect back accurately
and give and take responsibility.
The facilitator recognises and draws out the:
respective vision, insights and talents of each of the participants,
reminds respectful to all, free from the dualism of taking sides,
develops the ability to handle difficult situations,
ensuring a middle way, as much as possible between disputes or confusion. always remains interested in original ideas, even if they seem far-fetched at the time.
Most people don’t like conflict but by avoiding it in a group, dissatisfaction, unrest and possibly cynicism will probably surface elsewhere. The task of the facilitator is to ensure that nothing is left hidden under the carpet, so to speak. Fear of blame or of being misunderstood often blocks participants from sharing their concerns.
It is often very difficult for the group to develop a vision when participants in it cling to a respective position, often decided upon long before the meeting gets underway. Everybody wants to be understood. The task of the facilitator is to try to develop mutual understanding between everybody, rather than get caught up in the right or wrong of a position.
There may be a middle way, or alternative way, that the group has not thought of but the seasoned facilitator can offer. It is the challenge of finding an inclusive way between opposites rather than an exclusive approach.
The facilitator can offer creative proposals, without attachment to any of them, as a way forward. The experienced facilitator is thinking steps ahead of the rest of the group to help achieve maximum co-operation and vision.
When things are going wrong in any organisation, there is a tendency to want to blame the individual or certain individuals for the way things are – usually the most powerful! The organisation, or the group, creates a scapegoat (the shadow of the group falls upon the individual who then gets undermined). The facilitator endeavours to show that it is a shared responsibility for what happens. A culture of negative perceptions, stress and tension, often developed over months or years, subscribes to problems in a group or organisation.
It can be easier for everyone to come to a decision through a shared sense of what the direction and objective is. At the conclusion of a meeting, it also means that everyone in the group is clear about what particular decisions and tasks he or she has agreed to. A written record is vital in such mattes.
Can the group move from the general overview, such as through brainstorming, towards the specific tasks and decisions?
Can the group hear each other through employing a simple, effective language appreciated by all?
Can a problematic issue go from exclusion to inclusion?
Can the group be given real time to reflect on the way forward so the process is valued as much as the result?
The facilitator wishes to impart a sense that the meeting was useful, even if it only focuses on the problems without reference to ways and means to find solutions.