Facilitating great meetings and workshops is an ever-important skill when managing constant change with teams for best outcome. Most teams tend to focus their energy on reaching goals quickly, not leaving enough room for shared insights and learnings. Consequently, teams often undermine the long-term success of the business. Good facilitation helps solve these difficulties by balancing discussions, focus, and priorities. 

In addition, as sprints are becoming a mainstream agile method for product development, should not management be structured the same way?

Running sprints means team meetings every other week and intense work in between with fast progress checks. Team meetings become CRUCIAL:
💡One great meeting or workshop can lift spirits and push for progress in amazing ways!
💡One really bad meeting can destroy the whole sprint!

Team time in meetings and workshops is the most expensive time spent in a business. Use this time well. Be humble and train, train, train… Remember, Rome was not built in one day… 

What does facilitation mean?

Facilitation is the act of engaging participants to work well by defining a common vision, making decisions, achieving goals, and creating a relational climate where trust prevails and communication is empathic and honest. In contrast to presentation, which is typically characterized by a “sage on the stage” delivering findings to an audience, facilitation usually involves a “guide on the side” to ask questions, moderate discussions, introduce activities and unveil development areas. This necessary and evolving skill is particularly important for team projects, task forces, and meetings of any type. 

There are learnable processes for conducting meetings that get everyone to focus and share their wisdom. Whenever teams gather to make decisions, plan activities or resolve conflicts, they have different options and opinions on how to conduct their meetings. No matter what the chosen option is, the group has much to gain by developing facilitation skills.

The facilitator may be a member of a team with appropriate knowledge and skills. It is advisable for teams to have different people trained to carry out the facilitator role. When a difficult decision must be made, or when a conflict lingers on and the team doesn’t have the means to manage it with its own resources then it’s advisable to proceed with a facilitator from outside the team.

Why is it so hard?

We turn to our team meetings because we think they will help us unfold our visions and dreams, attain desirable goals, fulfill important needs, produce quality products and services, or manage complex work. We expect our teams to work efficiently and dynamically. Yet our experience of team meetings often leaves us feeling disappointed or frustrated. It is not only a matter of stress, bad energy, and lack of structure. It is also the lack of awareness regarding the complex dynamics behind every team and the unconsciousness of our own contribution to this dynamic as a factor that causes limited results.

“I look back at all the ‘strategy’ meetings I’ve attended that eventually turned into ‘tragedy’ meetings”
– Maria Horelli Rosenlew

How can you go about it?

Always set the stage before any team gathering. Create a standard structure around your meetings and workshops. Have proper agendas and plans before. Make sure everybody knows the purpose. Communicate and send pre-readings. Take care of logistics such as timing with breaks, tools, location (online/offline), and do not forget the food & drinks. Have fun!

These 7 steps are a great start for a first facilitation model for your team: 
  1. Always set the stage properly and plan with clear agendas and purpose.
  2. Do a check-in to get everybody tuned in the meeting.
  3. Start the meeting/workshop and follow your agenda!
  4. Have a disaster recovery process to lighten up the team and energies if necessary. 
  5. Remember to check-out! you can do this with a simple question such as If you could get a meeting with anyone in the world, who would it be?”. This is just to lighten up the mood and finish off on a positive note. 
  6. Get feedback and learn
  7. Refine

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