A facilitator’s objective and criteria for success?

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Facilitation is an enabling role, but what are a facilitators objectives?

Consider these situations:

Situation 1: If a group I’ve been facilitating meets its objective I’m likely to feel positive about the experience and might reasonably claim to have met my objective, but should I? Perhaps the group would have achieved its objective just as effectively without me, or worse, from my perspective, I might have hindered their progress.

The question I need to ask myself here is have I added value, and if so how much and how?

Situation 2: This is the opposite of situation ‘1’, i.e. ‘is it possible for a facilitator to achieve their objective and at the same time for the group to fail to complete the task in hand?’
Surely if a group ‘fails’ the facilitator has failed: the facilitator has a key role within the group, therefore unless the group succeeds the facilitator can’t succeed.
The flaw in this analysis is that the facilitator is not a member of the group, the facilitator provides a service to the group, so the facilitator’s success is not dependent on the group’s success.

What should be the facilitator’s objective?

There are two complementary facets:

1) To enable every group member to make the most of themselves and their potential contribution to the group.
2) For the group’s members to make the most of each other’s potential within the context of the group’s objective.

How should the facilitator measure their success?

1) Consider each individual: did everyone appear to be willing and able to both contribute fully to the group and listen to and value others’ contributions?
2) Consider the group as a whole: did the group work effectively towards their objective and was the atmosphere conducive to effective team working?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to all aspects of these questions (no matter what the outcome of the meeting) then the facilitator met their objectives, even if they said nothing!

If you’d like more tips on facilitating check out the rest of our expert guides. Or if you have any specific queries about facilitating, get in touch, we’d be happy to help.