by Steve Roche

Who is a facilitator?

Facilitation is defined as an activity designed ‘to make easier, to promote or help forward’.

In business, it is about helping people to solve their problems using their own solutions.

Facilitation is about process (how you do something) rather than content (what you do). It is about movement – moving something from A to B.

A facilitator guides a group towards an agreed destination and makes it easier for them to get there. So the facilitator is a process guide – someone who makes a process easier or more convenient.

Some facilitators are appointed to the job, while others are not, but do it anyway. Some will have undertaken specific training in facilitation skills, though many will not.

People tend to look to the chair of a meeting when something needs to be done, but the chair may not be a facilitator. There may not even be a chair, in which case someone needs to take the informal role of facilitator. The better that person is equipped to offer an objective and impartial voice, the better those meetings will be.

Like everyone else, facilitators come with their own set of judgements, pre-conceived expectations and history of ‘the way we do things round here’. But a good facilitator also comes with an ability to put those aside in order to make the meeting work better.

Workshops, meetings, seminars, conferences – all benefit from the involvement of a skilled and impartial person whose sole objective is to get the best possible result for everyone else involved. As with coaching, this also often happens informally; indeed, anyone with the skills may step back in a meeting and do some facilitating to get it back on track.

So, even though you may not wish to train formally as a facilitator, an understanding of the skills and expertise of a good facilitator will help you to

Man is a special being, and if left to himself, in an isolated condition, would be one of the weakest creatures; but associated with his kind, he works wonders.

Daniel Webster
  • Get more from your team
  • Run meetings more successfully
  • Handle ‘difficult’ people
  • Increase your emotional intelligence
  • Create a problem-solving, solution-finding atmosphere
  • Appreciate and accept the contribution of others
  • Know when to step back