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.
‘Twas a week before Christmas
When all through the town
Every creature was stirring
As video meetings abound.
Work products were paused
By the employees with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas
Soon would be there.
The colleagues were dressy
From the waist up, it’s true
Remembering office parties and merriment
And feeling a bit blue.
Every face was covered
With masks and face shields
Sending grandma food from a distance
All portioned and sealed.
When suddenly my email
Ping and ponged with a clatter
I sprang to my standing desk
To see what was the matter.
A problem with your colleagues
I dialed in with a flash
Together we talked
A manager was brash.
Our talking revealed
Mean words fallen like snow
Tainting relationships and productivity
Above and below.
When what to my wondering eyes
An enlightened and humble leader
Oh what a dear!
With kindness and generosity
So lively and quick
I knew in a moment
She was sent by St. Nick!
More rapid than eagles
Her words and actions they came
And she praised and appreciated
As she called them by name.
Now Work Ethic!
Now Kindness!Now Humor and Vixen!
On Patience! On Collaboration!
On Caring and Blitzen!
The pandemic started in March
And then all through the fall,
Necessitating accountability, flexibility
Appreciation to all.
The leader wrote notes of good cheer
And gave her team a big whistle
And away they all flew
Like the down of a thistle.
But I heard her exclaim
As she rode out of sight
“Happy Christmas to all,
And to all a good night!”
On the same day I received e-mails from two men, Farik and Dave, in different organizations. While both men are about the same age and in a similar place in their careers, their e-mails were very different.
Dave’s e-mail concerned me because it had these issues:
- The salutation was “hey.”
- There were two misspellings.
- The tone, while positive and pleasant, had a fair amount of slang.
- The subject line didn’t reflect the topic of the message.
Farik’s e-mail was professional and had none of those problems. When I complimented Farik, he said that his mentor took him aside after a snafu and shared with him the importance of e-mail etiquette. Those lessons came at a cost during his internship, but had made a lasting impression. Farik was glad he learned the e-mail lesson early in his career!
And the most important email rule of all is to “never write anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t say directly to the person in a face-to-face conversation.” In fact, remember that whatever you write can, and likely will, be passed throughout the office and potentially to a news source.
Click here for more tips on e-mail etiquette
I have written about this topic before, and it’s as important as ever: