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How a Facilitator Helps Teams Succeed

Do people arrive late to your meetings? At them, do you spend as much meeting time on side issues as on the agenda? Do you feel like you meet and meet and meet, but still fail to make progress? When your group needs help to succeed, consider hiring a facilitator. A facilitator helps groups succeed in at least four ways:

  1. Attendance
    Announcing that an outside will lead your meeting encourages attendance. Participants respond to the announcement, “This must be important. They’re bringing in an outsider.” As one leader in a post-event evaluation session said, “Not only was I pleased with overall attendance. I was especially pleased George attended. He rarely does, but when he does, he always makes thoughtful contributions.”
  2. Preparation
    It is often difficult to devote time to planning. A seasoned facilitator speeds this process by asking thoughtful questions to clarify the event’s scope. A facilitator, also, anticipates challenges and explores options to overcome roadblocks.While preparing for a meeting, an executive director and board chair answered facilitator’s questions about a scheduled retreat intended to update their strategic plan. The questions helped them to realize that they needed a new vision of their future, not an update of their existing one. With this in mind, the facilitator designed the meeting to help the board recognize and respond to its opportunities by examining four possible futures. At the end of the retreat, the group concluded that their current passivity was not an option and established a master plan task force to fine-tuning their future.
  3. Intentionality
    Your facilitator will weave together activities to help the group build trust, gain knowledge and identify solutions. At the same time, they include physical movement and interaction opportunities. When other agendas surface, the facilitator collects these for future discussions and helps the group return to the tasks at hand.
  4. Get Unstuck
    Often group members know they are stuck, but can’t see a way forward. In one meeting, a group, several layers below an offsite executive, repeatedly stated they lacked authority to take action on a program draining the budget of the whole branch. The facilitator challenged them to confirm their lack of power. With this prodding, they learned from the executive they indeed had authority to recommend and implement any appropriate plan of action. So assured, the group moved from “we can’t, because they won’t let us” to tackle the challenge and fix the program.

A facilitator increases focus and helps groups succeed. A facilitator encourages attendance, helps you clarify goals, plans effective routes to your goals and, if needed, helps you get unstuck.


Need to make a tough group decision? See this article for a classic decision-making tool.

For more about Karen’s success helping groups to reach goals and increase their income, click here.