When I was in graduate school at Johns Hopkins University, I took a course on Facilitation held by the esteemed professor, Roger Karsk. At the end of the semester, Roger offered me a job as a teaching assistant and I sprang at the opportunity. Ever since then I have been sharing insights about facilitating groups, including most recently through a series of blogs focusing on techniques to keep a facilitation running smoothly.
First and foremost, know that trust and shared group goals are imperative!
When you conduct an internal meeting within your organization, you cannot assume that everyone attending has a vested interest in the outcome. Therefore, meet with attendees and stakeholders individually beforehand to find out their goals and objectives. It’s rare that all members of any group share the same intentions, values, and especially commitment.
Once you have gleaned that information, your role as a facilitator is to decide what to do with it. One thing is certain, you should not hold on to it. Transparency is key, but the degree of transparency is critical and that is where the trust comes in. Participants have to feel comfortable expressing their motivations.
- Create an exercise or a structured time on the agenda where participants feel comfortable sharing their individual goals and objectives.
- Conduct a written follow-up survey. Compile the data, keeping individual comments anonymous, and review the results with participants.
- Talk to members individually to determine how the work may be interesting or beneficial to them.
- Work with the group to collectively develop a shared approach for moving forward.
Look for more facilitation tips in future blogs, and in the meantime, let me know how you have created synergy in the groups you lead or participate in.
Yesterday I conducted a class. There was a lively discussion about boundaries and respecting the “off” time of colleagues and employees. I said that receiving an email during the weekend was like getting a mental ping when you are trying to watch a movie, mow the grass, or play catch with the dog.
One senior leader disagreed and said that he didn’t expect to get answers to his emails immediately, he just wanted to get items off his to-do list. Another employee responded, “Yes, off of your list, and onto mine, while I am trying to go to the grocery store in relative peace.” Another countered, “If I don’t answer it, and everyone else does, then my perspective on important issues gets passed over.”
There was mutiny in the room. The senior leader said, “I should be able to work whenever I want. Why are you trying to limit my work hours?” While there was disagreement in the room on that topic, there is no disagreement about the negative health effects of always being “on.”
I have written a Dr. Seuss-style poem to help you remember boundaries for yourself and your employees.
I do not want to hear from you on my commute.
I do not want your voice as background when I play my flute.
I like my work, and to be a star.
But I turn work off when I get in my car.
And my weekends are sacrosanct.
When you text me then, you cause me angst.
I plead with you, no texts, no emails, and no calls on vacation.
No thoughts of you or work when I am chasing relaxation.
And you say you want to get ahead for the week.
Might be good for you, but that’s not the life I seek.
This total connection and being “on,”
Makes me feel like a cog in a wheel, sometimes a pawn.
Make your list and check it twice.
Then bury it till Monday,
And we’ll enjoy the other parts of life.
How do you set boundaries between work and your “off” time?
In organizations, we tend to focus on what is going wrong instead of what is going right. When we fail to pay attention to what’s going well, it can evaporate quickly.
— Karen Snyder
For more of Karen’s workplace wisdom, check out her book Eating Worms: Practicing Leadership Every Day.