The verb “to facilitate” comes from Latin. It means to make something easier, but also to preside over a meeting or a conference etc.
A person who facilitates a group is a Facilitator. What does such a person do? A Facilitator helps and enables.
LittleMissLisa understands that a Facilitator should:
- SERVE as an example for the group – be the first to show respect for others, nice behaviour and positive attitude.
- CULTIVATE a safe environment for the group members where none feels put down, or is afraid or discouraged to speak.
- SUPPORT the group with drawing the ground rules of conduct. Those rules should work for that group at the time of that meeting. It is possible that those same rules will be valid for every meeting, and some of them even all the time.
- HELP the group achieve and maintain efficient dialog.
- ENABLE more shy or introvert individuals to come forward with their opinions. Someone less prone to be loud maybe has something valuable to say, but does not dare to do so.
- GUIDE the group not to drift far of into digressions, remind them about previously established ground rules.
- ENCOURAGE initiatives coming from individuals and creative discussions in how to achieve their common goals
- BALANCE differences between individuals and opinions within a group without taking sides. Channel the conflicts towards resolution, without being too much of a peacemaker and insisting of everyone “just smile, agree and be friends” – that can remedy the problem just temporarily. Conflicts, misunderstandings and differences of opinions are normal. Remember, it is not what happens, but rather how it is handled.
- ENSURE that the decisions achieved are summarized and kept very visible for everyone – for example – on the most visible wall in the office.
LittleMissLisa believes that a person who has a leader role of a settled group should work as a facilitator most of the time. What differs a facilitator from something she calls Active facilitator is that the latter is offering his/her opinions on the subject as well, and acting as a group member at the same time.
What one still must not do as an Active facilitator is to impose one’s opinion on the group. A well functioning group makes better decision than an individual herself, and groups often consists of experts that know more than their leader in some areas, even if the leader is an expert in the same field herself.
So, an Active facilitator should behave as a group member as well, but should not lead the group in the direction she thinks is the best. She should be humble, helpful and respectful, shy from the limelight and work on bringing the inner strength and creativity of the group forward.