What is Facilitation? Facilitation these days is one of those trendy words that is vague enough to be able to cover almost anything. Quite simply, a facilitatorís job is to make it easier for the group to do its work. By providing non-directive leadership, the facilitator helps the group arrive at the decisions that are its task. The role is one of assistance and guidance, not control.
When is Facilitation Appropriate? A facilitation approach is appropriate when the organization is concerned not only with the decision that is made, but also with the way the decision is made.
Basic Definition A facilitator is an individual who's job is to help to manage a process of information exchange. While an "expert's" role is to offer advice, particularly about the content of a discussion, the facilitator's role is to help with HOW the discussion is proceeding. In short, the facilitator's responsibility is to address the journey, rather than the destination.
Facilitation Skills Good facilitation is hard work and it is difficult. There are many styles of facilitation and no single "right" way to carry out the role. We each develop our own unique style and make different kinds of contribution to the facilitation function.
Initial Start-up Tasks
  • contracting with the client
  • preparing the facilities and materials
  • conducting introductions
  • clarifying roles (e.g. facilitator, recorder, timekeeper, reporter)
  • discussing expectations
  • developing or reviewing the agenda



There are two functions that a facilitator carries out content facilitation and process facilitation.

Content facilitation includes:

  • clarifying confusing statements
  • identifying themes or common threads in a discussion
  • summarizing and organizing the ideas
  • "testing for consensus"

Process functions, on the other hand, include:

  • making sure everyone gets a chance to participate
  • pointing out feelings that are interfering with the groupís work
  • helping members to express and deal with conflict


Some of the observable behaviour competencies that should be in evidence are:

  • managing the client relationship and preparing thoroughly
  • distinguishing process from content
  • evoking participation and creativity
  • helping members to express and deal with conflict
  • asking rather than telling
  • maintaining objectivity
  • willing to spend time in building relationships rather than always being task-oriented
  • honouring the group, affirming its wisdom and displaying respect for each individual
  • asking for other's opinions rather than always having to offer their own
  • negotiating rather than dictating decision-making
  • listening without interrupting
  • adapting to the changing situation
  • reading the underlying dynamics of the group
  • demonstrating professionalism, self-confidence, authenticity and high personal integrity (modeling the appropriate behaviours)

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