One of the greatest challenges facing most leaders today is how to maximize the creativity, quality, productivity and performance of their team. In my experience as an executive and team facilitation coach, not all leaders have an innate ability to bring the best of their people forward and even fewer know how to deal with a team mired in conflict.
A workplace team stuck in conflict, silence or frustration often lacks effective leadership. Effective leaders know how to facilitate a team in conflict towards healthy safe debate and new solutions that allow a team move forward. Without these skills, teams often waste their valuable human talent and potential. Team members become disengaged and morale plummets. In the worse cases, organizations lose talented performers. Many HR exit interviews reveal the real reason for a talented employee leaving is their frustration with a boss’s lack of leadership and team building ability.
The good news — help is available. There are professional team coaches and meeting facilitators that can bring in skills and tools to help people work together more creatively and productively.
A facilitator’s role is to improve the way the team identifies challenges, solves complex problems and moves forward with a successful action plan. The best facilitators can help meetings run more effectively so teams can accomplish more with less work hours. They develop customized exercises to increase safety and team skills to make dialogue and honest candid feedback possible.
Diversity of opinions, perspectives and experiences combine to make a team powerful. Complex team workplace problems are often best resolved with more than one head in the game. Good facilitators help team’s tackle difficult conversations in a way that increases trust and performance. They engage everyone so that all team members have an opportunity to have their input considered. Team meetings that are facilitated by professionals are rarely boring or frustrating.
Professional facilitator’s or team coaches can help your team:
- End meetings with actionable items and clear decisions
- Increase participation, dialogue, engagement and accountability
- Work through conflict effectively
- Surface any “elephants in the room”
- Test assumptions
- Drive to solutions vs. getting stuck with whining and blaming
- Clarify roles, task expectations and goals/objectives
Outside facilitators (meaning they are hired from outside the organization) can be effective because they are impartial and neutral without internal political agendas that are often perceived when using someone on the “inside”. Outside facilitators have no decision-making power or authority over the team. They do not control or dominate but provide opportunities as a “servant” to the team. Their goal is often to empower and help unleash a team’s collective energy and talent.
Good facilitators must remain grounded and have enough personal authority to stay centered in the heat of conflict. To be effective, they also require education and tools in group dynamics and have the skills necessary to foster healthy dialogue and help a team move from destructive patterns to healthy ones. Yes, these are skills are worth investing in!
What do facilitators do?
- Bring in structure for effective team process — activities and tools to enhance participation, engagement and high performance.
- Know how to intervene to help a team develop new ways of communication so people can listen and understand each other’s viewpoints and participate in healthy debate
- Help teams develop their own ground rules to address accountability, attendance, how they handle conflict etc.
- Help keep meetings and teams on track, dealing with “disruptive” behaviors.
- They have tools to guide teams through solid planning, decision- making, and problem solving, idea generation and actions.
- Bring safety to a team where emotions are running high
Like most leadership skills, facilitation skills are learned through education, training, practice, feedback, observation and best practice coaching. They are invaluable to any leader seeking to inspire and influence their workplace teams. Alternatively, facilitation experts like me are available to help you design and facilitate more effective meetings for engagement, creativity, decision making and buy in. Call me to arrange: 360 5807!