An effective leader, manager, facilitator, coach and mentor will never tell you what you need to do. They will ask questions and help you discover the answer for yourself. Only in this way will you take ownership and become committed to carrying out the idea.
So how can you guide participants to meet the objectives you’ve set for your session?
When you think about your own experiences as a participant, it’s not unusual to remember as much about the facilitator as about the session content. This is because behaviors modeled by a facilitator can have a powerful impact on group and individual performance. In fact, participants are likely to discount the quality and usefulness of the session content if the facilitator’s behavior is inconsistent with the values or behaviors being promoted.
Maintaining and enhancing the self-esteem of participants
For most participants, the motivation to participate can be increased by creating a climate that boosts their confidence. There are a number of ways to accomplish this.
Focusing on a participant’s behavior and not on personality
Participants respond more productively when their behavior is discussed than when references are made to their personality or attitudes. The following will help you focus on behavior:
• Ask for speciﬁc examples of general or judgmental statements
• Use examples when presenting an idea
• Ask, “In what way?”, or say “I’m not sure I understand your point”
• Ask for evidence, whether praise or criticism, don’t accept generalities, and ask for speciﬁcs
• When offering praise, explain why it is being offered
Actively listen and show understanding
In active listening, the facilitator accepts what is being said without making any value judgments, clariﬁes the feelings being expressed, and reﬂects this back to the participant. Situations in which active listening can be particularly helpful, or even critical, include:
• When a participant is being uncooperative, or overly critical
• When a participant’s comment is unclear and confusing
• When participants keep changing the issue being discussed
• When a participant is rambling or “grandstanding”
• When a participant’s remark is important to the group’s learning
• When a participant disagrees with a suggested process, or the direction that the discussion is taking
Using reinforcement to shape learning
Participant behaviors that are rewarded tend to be repeated and strengthened. Reinforcing is a three-step process that involves:
1. Identifying the speciﬁc, observable behavior.
2. Explaining what effect the behavior had on the session’s process
3. Indicating your positive feelings about the behavior.
There are several verbal and non-verbal reinforcing behaviors to use, including:
• Referring back to a participant’s ideas or examples
• Using people’s names whenever possible
• Paraphrasing or writing the participant’s suggestions on flip charts rather than your own
• Nodding of the head
• Making eye contact and smiling
• Moving closer to the participant as they respond
It is essential for facilitators to be able to model the behaviors they are requesting of participants. One of the significant differences between effective and ineffective facilitation is the effectiveness of the facilitator as a behavioral model.
This subject is covered under preparing to lead a team effectiveness meeting in my latest book, Motivate Your Team in 30 Days. Get your free 20-page excerpt
Bob Urichuck is an internationally sought after speaker, trainer—founder of the “Buyer Focused” Velocity Selling System—and best-selling author in six languages. His latest books, Velocity Selling: How to Attract, Engage and Empower Buyers to Buy, and Motivate Your Team in 30 Days are new in 2014.