Group Facilitation – Questions & Answers

This section is dedicated to Questions and Answers about using Arlene Quinn as your group facilitator.

How long have you been a team facilitator?

I have been facilitating using my knowledge of group dynamics since 1993.

What personal qualities do you bring to this role?

  • human understanding about group dynamics
  • awareness of the egos of participants
  • intuition of when to alter processes
  • friendly yet firm approach

Describe what you do and what skill sets are necessary to be successful

I work with groups of people to:

  • clarify group values;
  • set action plans;
  • improve communication;
  • support differences of thinking styles;
  • determine team and organisation’s future plans;
  • focus senior staff strategically.

    Skill sets

    • Broad knowledge of theories of facilitation so that appropriate model is selected and therefore a greater chance of effective and efficient facilitation to meet the outcomes
    • Consulting skills to provide a guide to the primary stakeholder on what the facilitation will look like
    • Ability to select the right facilitation activity/processes for the group

    Factors that influence my choice:

    • I consider the length of time I have for the process, the familiarity the group may have with facilitation techniques and the expected outcomes
    • The maturity of the group and the likelihood of changing relationships post facilitation
    • The ethics of my choice always comes into consideration as you can “open–up” a group or “close it down” depending on the process used
    • Match budget expectations
    • Provide materials to engage the group in the process

Materials chosen have to be culturally, and age appropriate. They have to be within the overall budget agreed and if technology is used then the appropriate venue, technician, etc available.

Examples of situations where facilitation achieved desired outcomes

  • Health Care situation where Public Hospitals & Private Aged Care meet to discuss numbers for graduate nurses in a room and on teleconfererencing: action plan agreed.
  • A corporate services team reviewing their profiles and using radar charting establishing their differences and similarities on critical issues to grow their team culture.

Examples of situations where facilitation failed to achieve the desired outcomes

  • Values clarification exercise with a group of shift workers. There was insufficient buy-in from senior staff and resentment of the processes used as being “fuzzy”. Previous attempts were not revealed until the actual facilitation and there were redundancies looming.

What specific preparations do you make for facilitation?

  • Personal: think through the processes chosen for the event in detail; create a guide in my mind of alternative options to be used. Breathe deeply and centre prior to commencement. Keep emotions in check by remaining very present throughout the event. No buy-in to the content: remain very neutral and curious throughout the event.
  • Administrative: set up the contract. Ensure paperwork is sent to company and they are satisfied with what is going to happen. Check out the terminology likely to be used for “colloquialisms”. Get there early, sort out venue and find break times. Check venue staff and/or catering to ensure they are prepared for the activities.
  • Final check of all materials one week before and then 48 hours prior – if any photocopying check numbers and who is doing.

Which models, resources and theories do you employ?

  1. Harrison Owen – Open Space: Great for allowing a level playing field
  2. Brainstorming & Affinity: Useful to hear all the points and then cluster into headings
  3. Dick: DOT voting – used to give personal buy-in of the decision-making process
  4. Radar charting: Easy process to get agreement on the gaps
  5. Force Field Analysis: Helps when seeking negatives and positives to be identified and altered into action
  6. Sociograms: (similar to Interrelationship graphing) – used when being an observer of facilitation or meetings to give detail to the CEO on the interactions and power bases in a meeting or event.

What do you consider to be your main strengths in team facilitation?

  • Extrovert personality so willing to challenge the “group think”
  • Voice is level and easily heard so control of the team is generally positive
  • Good grasp of human communication to intervene and alter process if the facilitation is floundering
  • Strong ethical standards to fall back on in decision making

What ongoing professional development do you take?

  • I belong to a mentoring group. We discuss our abilities and offer constructive comments on how to improve.
  • I belong to the Australian Association of Facilitators and attend their professional development events.
  • I have a personal coach.

How do you define and measure successful outcomes?

  • Personally: An intuitive approach to knowing the facilitation has been successful.
  • Professionally: Meeting the brief and repeat business.