Pierce Management Development clarifies critical issues, identifies desired outcomes, and creates powerful agendas. We are adept at balancing the need for participation with the need for progress. We have the experience and flexibility to pilot groups through unexpected turbulence.
Tom Pierce talks about Facilitating
Q Tom, what are the trademark qualities or skills of a terrific facilitator?
A A top facilitator has to have logged enough workplace experience and enough facilitation experience to be credible and effective. Different skills are needed in each of the three stages of a critical-issue meeting or retreat:
- Before the retreat, the key skill is preparation.
- During the retreat, the key skill is the ability to manage group process.
- After the retreat, the key skill is the art of converting conversation into a final report.
Q Could you be more specific about how you approach each of those three stages? Let’s start with what happens before a meeting or retreat.
A Preparation always begins with active listening, targeted questioning, and collaborating with the client to frame the issues. Then I’ll create the title and perhaps a theme for the event, predict the optimal discussion-and-decision flow, and write a logical and inspiring agenda. Finally, I’ll do the research and interviews necessary to get up to speed on the issues and any “hidden agendas.”
Q How do you approach the meeting itself?
A Facilitating, when done right, is a delicate balancing act. My role is to manage group process fairly and, when necessary, firmly. It’s important, for example, that introverts are encouraged to contribute, and extraverts are encouraged not to contribute constantly. Unlike the participants, the facilitator can never “zone out.” I need to monitor the radar and sonar coming from the room--being alert to the direct signals from what is said, and to the indirect signals from what is not said and from “body language.”
It’s essential to realize the point at which flexibility becomes more important than plans and process. A good way to measure excellence is to watch how the facilitator redirects the group when the issues or emotions shift. The best way to measure excellence is, of course, by the impact and quality of the outcome.
Q What is unique about what you do after the meeting?
A I convert what had been meandering conversation that splashed up against occasional decisions and action items into a meaningful written and/or verbal report. The key skills required are:
- lucid thinking
- the ability to synthesize and summarize
- lucid writing
Q What does it cost to work with you as a facilitator, Tom?
A Pierce Management Development has no stock “rate card” for Facilitating, because every client’s needs are unique. Just Request a FREE Consulting Call.