Group facilitation is the art of directing the team process towards the agreed objectives. A facilitator not only guides the process but also does not get involved in content. A facilitator intervenes to protect the team flow and keep a group on track to accomplish its tasks (D. Hunter 2012, p. 105).
Group facilitation simply put, it is the art of making it possible for members to communicate more easily with one another. Without proper facilitation, a team usually slips into turn-tasking, unproductive and destructive silence, one-to-one conversation, boredom, anger, dominance by few outspoken members, and so on (M. Chen 2017, p. 93).
What is not Group facilitation?
Perhaps it is helpful to start with what group facilitation isn't. Frequently, neophyte team leaders assume group facilitation is the action of helping members to be more open. With this belief in mind, they use probing, reflection of feelings, paraphrasing, and interpreting to engage participants, helping them communicate, all the while not recognizing that these skills are individual counseling skills. Misused in the group, these skills inevitably result in series of leader-to-member, as well as member-to-leader, communication, rendering the group into a setting of multiple-individual-based dialogs. Such faulty facilitation can not help but rob the team of the member-to-member interaction, letting to rise to an impartial, monotonous, or intellectualized group atmosphere (M. Chen 2017, p. 94).
Group leader goal
A group leader's goal is to facilitate an atmosphere of (M. Chen 2017, p. 95):
- Safety and trust
It seems simple enough, yet it will take a wide set of facilitation skills to achieve this goal. Entering a group without a versatile skill set, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the team's complex and ever-changing characteristics-yourself in a state of extreme sense of incongruity called group shock.
The heart of group decision making
The ideal result for task groups is to make decisions that are acceptable and satisfying to group members. There are a lot of techniques and practices invented to guide groups towards such ends. Regardless of the practice or technique, they all have one common thing. They require groups to be focused and coordinate group communication. They more or less provide a group process design that forms communication in the direction to particular ends. Communication is the main denominator of process designs. The central job of group facilitation is to monitor and guide the communication behaviors required by the process design. Whether the facilitator is a manager of a team meeting, chairperson of a committee, or anybody else this person's job is communication. A communication perspective offers a practical schema for understanding and facilitating group decision making (S. Schuman 2012, p. 152-157).
- Chen M., Rybak C. (2017), Group Leadership Skills: Interpersonal Process in Group Counseling and Therapy, Sage Publications, p. 94-95, Los Angeles
- Hunter D. (2012), The Art of Facilitation: The Essentials for Leading Great Meetings and Creating Group Synergy, Random House New Zealand, p. 105, New Zealand
- Landreman L. (2013), The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections From Social Justice Educators, Stylus Publishing, Sterling
- Schuman S. (2012), The IAF Handbook of Group Facilitation: Best Practices from the Leading Organization in Facilitation, Jossey-Bass Publishers, p. 152-157, San Francisco
Author: Szymon Olejniczak