Principle Four Osteopathy / Corporate Work Health Australia osteopath Heath Williams recently attended the 2 day workshop “facilitation skills training” with the Groupwork Centre in Thornbury.  The main reason he attended this workshop was to further his facilitation skills as he is regularly required to use these when working with groups in the corporate work health and safety training space or when delivering education at University or at post graduate level. 

The Groupwork centre hosted an external course and as a result we had many attendees from a range of backgrounds, ranging from the government sector to private corporation and non for profit organisations.  We had attendees who would facilitate meetings internally within their business whilst others who were required to facilitate meetings with a range of external stakeholders.  As a result the group brought a wealth of experience which deepened the learning for all over the 2 days.

Below I will try to summarise briefly some of the key learnings from the 2 days.

So what is the role of a facilitator?

A facilitator is there to assist the group members hear each other, understand each other, make decisions and achieve the purpose of the group/meeting.  We need to focus on the purpose i.e. what the group has agreed to discuss and the process i.e. ensure the discussion moves forward and everyone is given the opportunity to participate.  

So what does a good facilitation workshop look like?

I guess its easy to define what a poorly facilitated workshop / meeting looks like first.  From my perspective these are those workshop / meetings where we get together, sometimes wondering whether we should actually be there, without any clear purpose and the process is all clunky, inefficient, led by the loudest people and not collaborative in anyway at all.  Often not getting to an outcome and then having to arrange another workshop or meeting.   

So now lets take a look at what a good facilitated workshop / meeting can look like.  From my perspective it is a group meeting where there has been a clear purpose with everyone knowing why they are there.  The workshop / meeting process runs extremely smoothly, with a focus on achieving the goal of the meeting through a collaborative process. 

Group facilitation and microskills

A good facilitator has a range of micro skills that they use regularly when facilitating a workshop / meeting.   Many of us probably already use these inherently when communicating with people in conversations or groups.  Below are a list of some of the key micro skills that a good facilitator should exhibit:

  • Self awareness
  • Listening to understand
  • Validating
  • Normalising
  • Honouring peoples experience
  • Summarising and clarifying
  • Noticing and naming
  • Wondering
  • Sitting with hot spots / challenging situations
  • Naming the ghost
  • Poking around in conversation
  • Defining the purpose of the group
  • Defining our role as the facilitator
  • Ensuring the group is aware of their responsibilities
  • Ensuring all individuals can participate and hear one another
  • Pacing the process
  • Scanning the group, sometimes standing by or asking people to say more or stopping the process

For those of you who might be thinking they might like to develop their facilitation skills, the key components of the workshop included:

  • Practical facilitation: group processes and the skills required to apply them
  • Confidence and compassion to work well with groups
  • Ability to harness the wisdom of the group, maximising participation
  • Capacity to create groupness  and psychological safety
  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional resilience
  • Skills to make meetings work well
  • Capacity to manage hotspots and tricky bits

Find out more about the facilitation skills training in the link below:

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy and Corporate Work Health Australia.

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