Facilitation Skills: Definition and Examples
Facilitation skills enable you to help groups of people work together effectively and productively. Using facilitation skills such as flexibility and time management allows you to make progress and achieve success in your daily life. Practicing these skills can help in your job search as well as in the workplace once you have been hired for a job. In this article, we will discuss examples of facilitation skills, how to become an effective facilitator and how to use these skills in the workplace.
What are facilitation skills?
Facilitation skills are the abilities you use to provide opportunities and resources to a group of people that enable them to make progress and succeed. Some examples include being prepared, setting guidelines, being flexible, active listening and managing time.
Facilitation skills are less about being an outspoken leader and more about allowing everyone else to contribute. As a facilitator, you bring the team together and create a common goal that everyone can be a part of. You then move the conversation toward the common goal and provide whatever is needed for your team to successfully reach it. A facilitator's main objective is to lead their team without getting directly involved by encouraging participation and creativity.
Why are facilitators important?
Facilitators are important because they enable groups and teams to make progress productively. A facilitator is less of a manager and more of a process helper and influencer of success. Here are three main reasons why facilitators are important:
1. Helping resolve conflicts
A facilitator is an unbiased person who listens to both sides of an argument. The facilitator will solve problems by reaching common ground between two or more people.
2. Making progress
A facilitator does what is necessary within a group to make progress. Time efficiency is vital to the facilitator in making progress under deadlines.
3. Inspiring success
A facilitator is someone who can inspire a team of people to solve their problems and succeed in their goals. The facilitator remains neutral about how the group achieves its end goal. As long as a successful outcome is reached, the facilitator has done their job.
Examples of facilitation skills
There are many different types of facilitation skills you can learn and practice to help you become an effective facilitator. They include:
Ability to set guidelines
Setting guidelines from the beginning of a project allows the group to share a common goal. Progress is often made more quickly when everyone on the team understands the guidelines and knows what the facilitator wants.
Neutrality is the ability to stay unbiased during a team effort. Remaining neutral as a facilitator is crucial because it allows you to guide the team without having an agenda. The team's success is your priority, no matter what choices they make.
A facilitator encourages people to contribute to the conversation, which often promotes progress. Being encouraging to team members allows even the shyest people to participate and feel included.
Being prepared is a contributing factor to making progress and facilitating a group. A facilitator who is prepared will be able to provide the resources that the team needs to move the conversation toward a common goal.
Flexibility is the ability to adapt to change. A facilitator can do this by adapting to the current outlook and mindset of the team whenever necessary.
This involves giving each member of the team your full attention. People contribute more when they feel like they are being heard. A facilitator should make sure to listen to everything a person has to say.
When goals must be met or ideas need to be created by a deadline, time management is necessary to keep everyone focused. A facilitator uses their time management skills to ensure that progress is being made during a group project or meeting.
How to improve facilitation skills
Practicing facilitation skills and developing your strengths will enable you to become a better facilitator. These tips will aid in that improvement:
Develop your strengths
Focusing on your strengths allows you to practice facilitation immediately. Understand the skills you possess and use them to bring a group of people together to make progress. For example, when you are presented with a chance to be the leader of a group, practice your facilitation strengths instead of acting like the boss. You will likely make more progress and have more success in your goals.
Acknowledge your weaknesses
To be a great facilitator, consider your weaknesses. Understanding your weaknesses will allow you to actively work on them even before an opportunity to facilitate is presented. For example, if you believe you could improve upon your active listening skills, practice them during every conversation you have. Building upon your weaknesses with one or two people can help you prepare for a larger group setting.
Seek opportunities to facilitate
As you develop your facilitation skills, seeking opportunities to facilitate will provide you with excellent practice. Whether you are facilitating two people or 20, practicing your skills will help you grow into a successful facilitator. For example, when two people need to work together to complete a project, you can practice your facilitation skills by being prepared, actively listening and encouraging each of them through the process.
Facilitation skills in the workplace
While there are many facilitation skills you can practice and develop, here are a few specific ways to be a more effective facilitator at work:
Actively listen to every member of your team
Being an active listener is both a facilitation skill and social skill. Do your best to listen to what your coworkers have to say and give everyone your full attention. Actively listening to each member of your team can show tremendous respect because they feel like they are being heard. Practicing this skill in the workplace might cause others to choose you as their facilitator on the next group project.
Think about progress frequently
When you consistently think about making progress, your facilitation skills will grow. For example, when a project must be completed by the end of the week, thinking about the needed progress might allow for facilitation to occur naturally.
Manage your time effectively during every task
Time management is an important component of facilitation and progress. For example, when your manager gives you an assignment that needs to be completed by the end of the day, break up the task into pieces and give yourself a set amount of time to efficiently finish each one. The more effective you are at managing your own time, the better you can facilitate the time of an entire group of people.
Be flexible and adapt to change
When things at work are not going as planned, practice your flexibility. You can adapt to changes during the day when you understand that success does not always follow a precise plan. For example, when progress is halted because of a change in a project, be flexible and make a new plan. A facilitator understands how to adapt to change to reach an end goal.
Practice empathy toward others
Empathy is a social skill that allows you to have compassion for what others are feeling. Practicing empathy can directly contribute to the continuation of a halted project. For example, when a team believes a project could be better and is unsure about the final result, having compassion can make them feel understood. Showing your team that you understand their feelings may encourage them and allow for progress to continue.
How to highlight facilitation skills
Your facilitation skills can be highlighted in every step of your job search. You can present yourself as a better candidate for a job when you show that you are an excellent facilitator. Here are a few ways to highlight your facilitation skills during each step of the process.
Facilitation skills for resume
Your resume is a perfect place to highlight your facilitation skills. You can include some of these skills in your resume skills section. Time management can be a great skill to include here, for example. You can include other skills like encouragement and flexibility when describing your previous job history. For example: "Completed daily and weekly projects under strict deadlines while adapting to changes in plans."
Facilitation skills for cover letter
Including your facilitation skills in your cover letter is straightforward and a good way to get an employer's attention. Think about the company where you are applying and include the skills you possess that they are seeking. If they are looking for someone who can work under pressure with strict guidelines, include your time management and flexibility skills. If they are seeking someone that can manage a team, mention your ability to set goals and be encouraging to promote progress. Submitting a well-written cover letter that directly relates to the skills they need can help impress a potential employer.
Facilitation skills for the job interview
A job interview is the first chance you have to talk about your facilitation skills. A successful facilitator is prepared and manages their time effectively, so showing up to the interview early is a helpful first step in displaying your skills. You can continue to show your facilitation skills by actively listening to the interviewer starting the moment they walk in the room.
Besides these first impressions, you can also reference your skills directly in your answers to interview questions. When an interviewer asks you to explain one or more scenarios from past work experiences, this is the perfect time to share your facilitation skills. Employers appreciate someone who can be a team player for the purpose of progress and success, and that is precisely who a facilitator is.