What Makes a Good Facilitator in Project Management?
written by: Jean Scheid
• edited by: Marlene Gundlach
• updated: 5/20/2013
Facilitating is all about the process and the progress of any team. Good facilitators encourage the team to reach the project outcome. Being an effective facilitator means you have to be detached while still handling the team. Now you may wonder, what makes a good facilitator?
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Being a Leader
What makes a good facilitator? While some may define it as being a leader and getting a team to follow your direction and ideas, it can be a little more than that. If you are facilitating a team of people on a project, you can use these skills to make your leadership skills shine.
Discuss the project at hand with all your team members. Agree to disagree and they will feel involved and respect your position as a facilitator. Fine-tune your team's skills by offering the challenge of changing their job tasks from time to time. Find experts for tough projects and introduce them to your team if all of you are given a task you have never handled before. Hold team members accountable to you and not upper management. Make sure they understand you were appointed the facilitator for a reason.
Try and tame the tigers on your team by listening. Inevitably, you will have a few outspoken members who think they have all the answers. Use your initial meeting to identify these individuals and make sure they are hearing the other team members. They will learn what it means to be a member of a team when they see that you are listening to everyone, not just them.
Try and think of your role as the facilitator as part of a process that gathers all the forces necessary to accomplish one goal. During this process a good facilitator will structure a project and give it clarity. You must try and remain neutral, yet still find value in each member of your team.
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Allow your team to build upon mistakes and learn from one another. Freedom in facilitating is important because a good facilitator will focus on a process so everyone else can get on with the task at hand. You are just the overseer, so to speak.
Give your team freedom to think, analyze, and hold interim meetings to asses their progress. Place value on what the team is doing at these interim meetings by ensuring everyone has a chance to give their input.
Make sure the door to your office follows the "open" door policy. Teams can feel timid around closed doors and most likely won't come to you if you appear to be unapproachable. Use your facilitation skills to teach others to learn. No one likes change. If it is your first time as a facilitator and everyone is glaring at you, help them learn what it is you do. Teach them the importance of having an overseer on the project.
Anyone can be a great facilitator if he or she keeps the entire process and the end result at hand at all times. Guide your team and listen. Don't use the iron fist approach and tell them what to do. Team project success is often only as good as the guide it receives from the facilitator. Use your position as a facilitator as a time to guide, lead, and enhance your team's success.