A facilitator can make or break a planning session. By using an experienced, certified facilitator in the right situations, you will almost certainly accomplish more in your meetings, delve deeper into critical issues and resolve them. Equally important, participants will leave with positive feelings, stronger cohesiveness, a sense of accomplishment and a renewed belief in the team. Leaders who are charged with creating and executing a strategic vision have found the presence of a well-qualified facilitator essential to keeping participants objective, open, creative and, above all, on track.
Why hire a facilitator?
Planning discussions can be painful and difficult. They involve personal values and goals, deeply held beliefs about the nature of an organization and where it’s going, and maybe different perspectives on the marketplace and industry. With this type of discussion, people may have values or goals that conflict with those of others participating in the planning process.
Having a well-designed process to guide the group can reduce the barriers that prevent a team’s ability to take the objective, long-term overview that strategy requires.
By using a facilitator:
- Strategic discussions are richer and focused on strategy
- Conversations are focused, not on the past but rather forward and on the vision of the organization
- Discussion stays focused on the “big picture” rather than wallowing too deeply in the weeds
- Thinking is open and creative without barriers
- Specific priorities and actions are detailed
Selecting a facilitator
To identify the best facilitator, consider a certified facilitator with the ability to:
- Articulate key strategic concepts
- Provide strategic direction
- Willingness and expertise to tackle “sacred cows”
- Focus on strategic issues and not be overwhelmed with the tactics
- Keep the energy level high and momentum moving for a successful meeting
While not required, it is certainly helpful if the facilitator has expertise in the industry or sector.
Without question, check the references and past experience of the facilitator. Suggested questions during the reference check might include:
- What process did the facilitator use to make sure they were adequately prepared for the session?
- How were you informed of what was going to happen during the facilitated session?
- How did the facilitator communicate with you during the session?
- What kind of follow up was used with you and the participants post session?
- Did you accomplish the goals set for the facilitator? If so, how?
At Mitchell, we offer exceptional facilitation services, but we also offer superior training and coaching services, as well as downloadable training solutions. Learn more about our easy-to-navigate website in our next article: The Center launches new microsite.