As a leader, you have lots of meetings to lead.
How do you know when it is the right time to bring in an outside facilitator to help you?
Read on for 3 examples of when it is good decision to bring in a professional facilitator.
1) The Engagement Dilemma
When you need everyone (including you) to be fully engaged in the content, decision making, brainstorming, or other activities this meeting will entail.
Decision making is especially prone to unintentional influence when the leader is facilitating the meeting. There are tools for anonymous polling or techniques for blind voting, but that can create awkwardness because it brings the issue of power dynamics to the forefront and puts a spotlight on it.
A professional facilitator will find out from you what your desired outcomes are and design a structured flow for the meeting that will allow everyone to participate fully. An external facilitator’s role is to focus on the structure and process to ensure the meeting keeps moving and is running efficiently. We also pay attention to group dynamics to make sure that everyone is included and you can make sure that you’ve got full participation in ideation or decision making.
2) New Leadership – When you assume a new role as leader of a group
Another situation where it really helps to hire a facilitator is when you are the new leader of a team or group. Typically, when you have just been hired or promoted, then all eyes are on you. You can both deflect attention and show humility by stepping out of the front-of-the-room role and letting a trained facilitator guide the meeting.
One of the fears employees express about a new leader is, “Will they listen to us?” Employees are often concerned that a new leader will not value their knowledge and experience. They get anxious imagining that the new boss is going to immediately start pushing their own agenda and changing things.
When you let a facilitator take the front-of-the-room role, you have an opportunity to sit in the back of the room (or in another strategic position) where you can listen, observe, and take the temperature of the room. This shows your team that you value their input and it allows you to gain valuable insights without trying to facilitate at the same time.
3) Thinking Partner – When you are doing strategy work.
Other candidates for facilitation include activities like strategic planning, new product or program development, or anything else where you need to see the issue from different perspectives, make complex decisions with far-reaching consequences, or consider data and opinions outside of those in the room. In all of these cases, you need to use alternative methods to generate new ideas or gain new insights.
An experienced facilitator can help you with meeting design (ahead of time) and facilitating specific activities on meeting day that will guide your group through the collaborative design you have developed.
At Bloom Facilitation, we now offer meeting design. That is another alternative for this type of situation – you can have the benefit of a professional facilitator without needing to hire someone to lead the actual meeting.
You can think of an important meeting with your staff like a wedding. If you are the bride, groom, or another member of the wedding party, you want to be free to celebrate the day and be fully present and engaged. You don’t want to be checking place settings or rearranging table assignments. You want to be greeting guests who traveled from far away to celebrate with you.
You want to be creating a welcoming atmosphere and achieving your desired outcome – becoming legally wed in the presence of family and friends. This is why so many people choose to hire a wedding planner or a day-of coordinator for their wedding.