Tuesday, May 22, 2018

2018 PEOPLE: How to become a group facilitator in 7 easy steps

How to become a group facilitator
in 7 easy steps

The secret of facilitating a group is (1) to notice what actions the group needs to function effectively.  And (2) to fill in the actions where needed.  The key is to observe the functioning of the group and supply the needed actions. Here is a summary of the actions you will probably need.

1. Find a few task-oriented groups.  Join them. 

  • Pay attention to what the other people are doing.
  • Note how that is affecting the progress towards the group objectives.
  • Note what actions are needed to help the group make better progress.
  • The main needs are likely to be:
  • Door opening, agenda watch, road-map, action-items, starter-closer.
  • Group facilitator
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  • As group facilitator, you act as a participant-observer.  
  • Most participants will focus on their objectives for the group.
  • The facilitator focuses on the actions of the other people also.  
  • Certain actions are needed to keep the group moving towards its goals.
  • If they are being provided, you just observe and learn.
  • If they are not being provided, you provide them.
  • Search for articles about task-oriented groups.

2.  Do the starter-closer job at the agreed times

  • Just after start time, break into the irrelevant talk by reading from the agenda.
  • If there is no agenda, ask for one.
  • The first item will usually be reports on the action items. 
  • So get and record the status of each action item.
  • Near the meeting end time, review the action items and takers. Ask for corrections.
  • Also review your notes on the agenda for the next meeting.  
  • And review the current status of the road-map for new and completed items.

3. Practice door-opening

  • Watch for people who have something to say but can't find an edgewise.
  • Break in and get them an edgewise: "Mary, what were you going to say?"

4. Take charge of the agenda watch

  • The agenda is what the group is trying to do.
  • If you don't know the agenda, ask what the group is trying to do.  Write it down.
  • If the discussion gets away from the agenda, restate the agenda.
  • Review the agenda at the start of each meeting.
  • Review the achievements at the end of each meeting.
  • Ask for help in writing the agenda for the next meeting.

5. Manage the road-map

  • The road-map is the ordered set of steps needed to reach some goal.
  • Every group goal needs a road-map or a celebration:
  • Celebration if the group has reached the goal.
  • Road-map if there are things yet to be done. 
  • Keep a list of the identified steps and review the list with the group often.

6.  Manage the action-items

  • Action-items are tasks that someone needs to do.
  • Someone never does them. 
  • An action item will probably get done if someone with a name agrees to do it.
  • Managing action-items means:
  • Write down every task that the group identifies as needing to be done soon.
  • Note who agrees to do it.
  • If no one agrees to do it, ask who will do it.
  • If no one will do it. mark it open and bring it up later.
  • Check on the action items at the start of the next meeting.

7.  When other people start to do your job, encourage that

  • You are teaching by example.
  • Some people will follow your example. 
  • Let them take over that part of the facilitator job.  
  • That leaves you free to learn more from observing.  
  • And learning will make you a better facilitator.


  • Original text in this blog is CC By: unless specified public domain
  • Use as you please with attribution: link to the original.
  • All images without attribution in this blog are CC0: public domain.

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