What is facilitation?
Facilitation, literally means “make things easier”. It is a way to encourage participation, a sense of ownership and creativity. It’s an art to lead people to achieve a common goal through a process. The focus of facilitation is process (how to do something) not the content (what to do). Facilitation is related to “progress”, by taking things from point A to point B. The facilitator guides a group to a destination. Facilitation allows an easier way for the people to reach where they agree to go to. During this process, the facilitator’s helps reveal a decision which can be accepted by all the members of the group.

What is the facilitator’s role?
The facilitator assists a group or organization to operate more effectively through the joint effort to achieve a common goal. Through the process and guidance, the facilitator helps the group to understand and make decisions to accomplish a mission with more ease. The facilitator focuses on the group and its work on hand; the role of a facilitator is to assist and guide, not control. The facilitator is “content neutral”, who uses fair, open and inclusive process and methods to complete group work, not holding position or viewpoint to the group’s issue. The facilitator helps the group to go in depth with their thinking, assumption, belief and values, and the system procedure and content. An excellent facilitator knows how to lead the group to establish a durable agreement.

What is the facilitator’s role?

According to the definition of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), a professional facilitator must have the following six core competencies:
A. Create Collaborative Client Relationships

(1) Develop working partnerships
  • Clarifies mutual commitment
  • Develops consensus on tasks, deliverables, roles & responsibilities
  • Demonstrates collaborative values and processes such as in co-facilitation
(2) Design and customize applications to meet client needs
  • Analyzes organizational environment
  • Diagnoses client need
  • Creates appropriate designs to achieve intended outcomes
  • Predefines a quality product & outcomes with client
(3) Manage multi-session events effectively
  • Contracts with client for scope and deliverables
  • Develops event plan
  • Delivers event successfully
  • Assesses/evaluates client satisfaction at all stages of the event or project

B.Plan Appropriate Group Processes
(1) Select clear methods and processes that…
  • Fosters open participation with respect for client culture, norms and participants diversity
  • Engages the participation of those with varied learning/thinking styles
  • Achieves a high quality product/outcome that meets the client needs
(2) Prepare time and space to support group process
  • Arranges physical space to support the purpose of the meeting
  • Plans effective use of time
  • Provides effective atmosphere and drama for sessions

C. Create and Sustain a Participatory Environment
(1) Demonstrate effective participatory and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrates effective verbal communication skills
  • Develops rapport with participants
  • Practices active listening
  • Demonstrates ability to observe and provide feedback to participants
(2) Honor and recognize diversity, ensuring inclusiveness
  • Encourages positive regard for the experience and perception of all participants
  • Creates a climate of safety and trust
  • Creates opportunities for participants to benefit from the diversity of the group
  • Cultivates cultural awareness and sensitivity
(3) Manage group conflict
  • Helps individuals identify and review underlying assumptions
  • Recognizes conflict and its role within group learning/maturity
  • Provides a safe environment for conflict to surface
  • Manages disruptive group behavior
  • Supports the group through resolution of conflict
(4) Evoke group creativity
  • Draws out participants of all learning and thinking styles
  • Encourages creative thinking
  • Accepts all ideas
  • Uses approaches that best fit needs and abilities of the group
  • Stimulates and taps group energy

D. Guide Group to Appropriate and Useful Outcome
(1) Guide the group with clear methods and processes
  • Establishes clear context for the session
  • Actively listens, questions and summarizes to elicit the sense of the group
  • Recognizes tangents and redirect to the task
  • Manages small and large group processes
(2) Facilitate group self-awareness about its task
  • Varies the pace of activities according to needs of group
  • Identifies information the group needs, and draw out data and insight from the group
  • Helps the group synthesize patterns, trends, root causes, frameworks for action
  • Assists the group in reflection on its experience
(3) Guide the group to consensus and desired outcomes
  • Uses a variety of approaches to achieve group consensus
  • Uses a variety of approaches to meet group objectives
  • Adapts processes to changing situations and needs of the group
  • Assesses and communicates group progress
  • Fosters task completion

E.Build and Maintain Professional Knowledge
(1) Maintain a base of knowledge
  • Knowledgeable in management, organizational systems and development, group development, psychology, and conflict resolution
  • Understands dynamics of change
  • Understands learning and thinking theory
(2) Know a range of facilitation methods
  • Understands problem solving and decision-making models
  • Understands a variety of group methods and techniques
  • knows consequences of misuse of group methods
  • Distinguishes process from task and content
  • Learns new processes, methods, &models in support of client’s changing/emerging needs
(3) Maintain professional standing
  • Engages in ongoing study/learning related to our field
  • Continuously gains awareness of new information in our profession
  • Practices reflection and learning
  • Builds personal industry knowledge and networks
  • Maintains certification)

F.Model Positive Professional Attitude

Practice self-assessment and self-awareness

  • Reflects on behavior and results
  • Maintains congruence between actions and personal and professional values
  • Modifies personal behavior/style to reflect the needs of the group
  • Cultivates understanding of one’s own values and their potential impact on work with clients
(2) Act with integrity
  • Demonstrates a belief in the group and its possibilities
  • Approaches situations with authenticity and a positive attitude
  • Describes situations as facilitator sees them and inquire into different views
  • Models professional boundaries and ethics -as described in ethics and values statement
(3) Trust group potential and model neutrality
  • Honors the wisdom of the group
  • Encourages trust in the capacity and experience of others
  • Is vigilant to minimize influence on group outcomes
  • Maintains an objectives, non-defensive, non-judgmental stance

Facilitator must abide by the Statement of Values and Code of Ethics
The facilitator is deposited with the client’s trust to facilitate critical issues in the group, he/she must give the client duetrustworthiness, and abide by the Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Facilitators. You may refer to the Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Facilitators established by the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), its key points are as the following:

Client Service─We are in service to our clients, using our group facilitation competencies to add value to their work.
Our clients include the groups we facilitate and those who contract with us on their behalf. We work closely with our clients to understand their expectations so that we provide the appropriate service, and that the group produces the desired outcomes. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are competent to handle the intervention. If the group decides it needs to go in a direction other than that originally intended by either the group or its representatives, our role is to help the group move forward, reconciling the original intent with the emergent direction.

Conflict of Interest─We openly acknowledge any potential conflict of interest.

Prior to agreeing to work with our clients, we discuss openly and honestly any possible conflict of interest, personal bias, prior knowledge of the organization or any other matter which may be perceived as preventing us from working effectively with the interests of all group members. We do this so that, together, we may make an informed decision about proceeding and to prevent misunderstanding that could detract from the success or credibility of the clients or ourselves. We refrain from using our position to secure unfair or inappropriate privilege, gain, or benefit.

Group Autonomy─We respect the culture, rights, and autonomy of the group.

We seek the group's conscious agreement to the process and their commitment to participate. We do not impose anything that risks the welfare and dignity of the participants, the freedom of choice of the group, or the credibility of its work.

Processes, Methods, and Tools─We use processes, methods and tools responsibly.

In dialogue with the group or its representatives we design processes that will achieve the group's goals, and select and adapt the most appropriate methods and tools. We avoid using processes, methods or tools with which we are insufficiently skilled, or which are poorly matched to the needs of the group.

Respect, Safety, Equity, and Trust─We strive to engender an environment of respect and safety where all participants trust that they can speak freely and where individual boundaries are honoured. We use our skills, knowledge, tools, and wisdom to elicit and honour the perspectives of all.

We seek to have all relevant stakeholders represented and involved. We promote equitable relationships among the participants and facilitator and ensure that all participants have an opportunity to examine and share their thoughts and feelings. We use a variety of methods to enable the group to access the natural gifts, talents and life experiences of each member. We work in ways that honour the wholeness and self-expression of others, designing sessions that respect different styles of interaction. We understand that any action we take is an intervention that may affect the process.

Stewardship of Process─We practice stewardship of process and impartiality toward content.

While participants bring knowledge and expertise concerning the substance of their situation, we bring knowledge and expertise concerning the group interaction process. We are vigilant to minimize our influence on group outcomes. When we have content knowledge not otherwise available to the group, and that the group must have to be effective, we offer it after explaining our change in role.

Confidentiality─We maintain confidentiality of information.

We observe confidentiality of all client information. Therefore, we do not share information about a client within or outside of the client's organisation, nor do we report on group content, or the individual opinions or behaviour of members of the group without consent.

Professional Development─We are responsible for continuous improvement of our facilitation skills and knowledge.

We continuously learn and grow. We seek opportunities to improve our knowledge and facilitation skills to better assist groups in their work. We remain current in the field of facilitation through our practical group experiences and ongoing personal development. We offer our skills within a spirit of collaboration to develop our professional work practices.