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Manager’s checklist: How well do you facilitate?

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Sometimes in business, it seems as if "facilitate" is just a five-dollar word that sounds fancier than "help," attached to whoever's leading a meeting. But as employee involvement and team processes drive workplace change, genuine facilitation--the process of guiding employees and teams working together toward creating change--has become a necessary job skill for hands-on managers.

While facilitation can be hard work, it's a skill that can be learned and mastered. To see how well you're doing now, here are some questions to ask yourself about your actions as a team or group leader. 

For each statement, rank yourself from 1 (completely disagree) to 5 (completely agree):

  1. I find it easy to accept that another person may experience the world very differently from how I experience it.
  2. I am able to accept the reality of an organizational situation and begin my work from there.
  3. My actions reflect that I am clear on my purpose and desired result.
  4. I don't necessarily have to stick with the agenda as planned.
  5. I am very much aware of my strengths and weaknesses.
  6. I constantly update my knowledge of individual and group behavior.
  7. I'm aware of whether my group is making progress and why.
  8. I do not speak in paragraphs when a single sentence will make the point.
  9. I can tell others what I am feeling as a way of helping them change.
  10. I feel rewarded when my work helps others improve.
  11. I am alert to moments and incidents that can be used to help others learn.
  12. I know when it's appropriate for me to take control of a situation.
What do your answers mean?

Clearly, higher scores are better when assessing your own skills as a facilitator. One of our old favorites on this subject is the book Masterful Facilitation by A. Glenn Kiser, which identifies the key competencies that the above items are designed to measure. Kiser labels them (in the order they appear above):

  1. Empathy 
  2. Acceptance
  3. "Congruence" between words and actions 
  4. Flexibility 
  5. Self-awareness 
  6. Technical competence 
  7. Observation skills 
  8. Communication skills 
  9. Emoting 
  10. Caring
  11. Teaching skills 
  12. Directing skills
Kiser recommends that, "if your ego can stand it," you should ask peers, friends and partners to evaluate you on these same questions, and compare their responses to yours. If you scored yourself at 3 or lower on any of these categories, he also suggests that you "should concentrate on developing your skills in this area."

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