The most effective conversations occur when everyone feels like their contribution is of equal value. A professional facilitator can acknowledge inequality in stature, experience and expertise and still honour everybody’s contribution as equally valuable. When people collaborate better solutions are identified and implementation is easier and more effective.
Every effective conversation has two elements: the content and the process. The content is all the information that is revealed, including deductions and conclusions. On the other hand, process is what a facilitator does to create the space for rich conversations to occur. The professional facilitator deliberately designs and manages the process.
A conversation around the water cooler or unfacilitated meeting may reveal rich information but usually only for people who already have a trusting relationship. Highly effective teams are a group of talented but diverse people. They probably won’t all have trusting relationships so a facilitator applies processes and techniques to create a safe space for them to also enjoy a richer conversation and contribute more.
An insider is unlikely to be perceived as free of judgement. Participants in a discussion facilitated by an insider are influenced by how the insider has judged situations in the past. They imagine their contribution will be similarly judged, so self censoring constrains the flow of ideas. Certainly there are in-house leaders with a more facilitative style who do enjoy richer discussions but often the converse is true: people find meetings unfulfilling because nothing new is revealed.
There are only two situations in which a professional facilitator will not be good value for your organisation.
- If the scale of operation is insufficient to capitalise on the understanding
- If the organisation or individuals do not want to improve
Even if we only considering savings in salaries for a team of 10 people the savings you can expect are many times the cost. Imagine a team of 10 people being paid an average of $100,000 pa. A 5% improvement in effectiveness would effectively save $50,000 in the first year. Plus staff turnover and absenteeism is likely to fall.
If the 10 people are part of a commercial organisation we would expect the value of a professional facilitator to be much greater because employees are expected to add far greater value than the cost of their salary. The return on investment can be 100 times the cost and the risk very low, especially if a certified professional facilitator is employed.
A facilitator designs and manages a process that allows people to participate. Whilst he or she takes full responsibility for the process they are totally detached from the content and outcome. The participants determine what happens.
A coach may facilitate a space where people feel safe to contribute, but they are more likely to have experience in the relevant field and are expected to make suggestions. Once a strategy is adopted they may hold people accountable to their intentions.
A consultant is brought in once the problem is defined. They provide a solution, usually a specific solution following a selection process. Their contribution is more likely to be technical and require a facilitator to maximise engagement.
A mentor is similar to a coach although more likely to be a prominent role model having already achieved success in the relevant field. Often simply by who they are, they hold people accountable to their intentions.
Maecenas sit amet tincidunt elit. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Nulla facilisi. Nulla facilisi. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Nulla facilisi. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames turpis egestas!