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.
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.