I had lunch with a passionate team leader who invited her entire team to learn Liberating Structures. She is happy that she is no longer required to present novel conversational techniques at meetings. The team is fully on board with pushing and claiming the different way. She told me with a smile, “When I’m too busy and risk falling back to old patterns, my team reminds me we can do a 1-2-4-all”.
This anecdote shows how teams with facilitation skills can update their meeting and conversation style and:
- Be more mindful of the process.
- Be more caring about how they interact.
- Share responsibility for how to work together.
- Support each other.
- Push the new way of meeting over the tipping point and make it last.
The following are my 11 arguments for why improving your team’s facilitation skills can boost collaboration.
1/ Notice more
A mindful team pays attention to how they work together and how participation is distributed. The team members notice when they are off track and decide what to do: They can allow the process to flow, bring it back on track, intentionally slow it down to discuss issues, or purposefully deviate from the plan.
2/ Provide some structure
Skilled teams are driven by a sense of purpose. Members can quickly clarify together what the meeting is about and what they are trying to accomplish in collaboration. They know how to plan and structure the conversation so that all viewpoints are considered.
3/ Open and close a meeting together
The team knows that each meeting tells a story in three acts: A beginning, a middle, and an end. It is important to connect and open up before going into inquiry to explore an issue in depth and come up with novel solutions. Finally, they distil the insights, bring it all together, and agree on action steps.
4/ Take turns and co-facilitate
By sharing the responsibility for guiding the discussion, the team ensures that all members can participate and that the process is facilitated.
5/ Develop a shared repertoire
By building a shared repertoire, the team can be agile and act quickly on both lines: What should we discuss and how should we discuss it?
6/ Perform as an ensemble
When the team has a shared repertoire, it can improvise and be flexible when planning and structuring meetings. It is an ensemble acting together.
Facilitation is not a role you play. It’s a skill you learn, one that delivers tremendous benefits for your organization.Greg Netzer
7/ Grow as individual
Beyond meetings, facilitation skills are useful in everyday life. Everyone on the team gets the chance to develop personally.
Facilitation is a life skill. And it is magical too. It helps us improve our own and our bilateral or group communication, our empathy, our patience with silence, our staying focused on the other party and listening intently, our ability to build on each other’s point, etc.Ewen Le Borgne
8/ Listen better and ask questions
Active listening is one of the key facilitation skills that benefits team collaboration. A mindful team is aware that in a conversation listening is just as crucial as speaking. The team members also know that sometimes it is just as important to ask questions as it is to provide answers. They are skilled at fostering a culture of inquiry and curiosity.
9/ Take decisions
The team understands the difference between exploring an issue and taking a decision and knows how to find agreement on how and whether a decision will be taken.
10/ Reflect on the process
Adopting a new way of having meetings is a question of practice. A mindful team will carve out some reflection time to look back. Practice and reflection go hand in hand.
11/ Happiness at work
Caring for meetings and collaboration together will not only strengthen the team members’ relationships it will also lead to more joy and fun.
Innovate your way of meeting and collaborating.
You can reach a new default mode of meeting with your team, group, network, and community.
I look forward to seeing you as a reader in my next blog entry.
Enjoy your learning moment,
PS. If you’d like a sparring partner to support you on your facilitation challenge, online, hybrid, or offline, reach out. Feel free to drop me a message so we can schedule our first meeting.