Facilitation is everyone’s business!

  • Spoiler Alert! Facilitation is for everyone, whether you are in marketing, communication, human resources or finance, all departments of the organization would benefit from this kind of training. Here’s a look back at a rich learning experience that made me a better person.Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in three facilitation courses offered by Pyxis Canada.  As a marketer, the topics covered were of particular interest to me: introduction to facilitation, agile retrospective through practice and facilitation in times of conflict. I had heard of the term facilitator before, but I didn’t know what it really meant. As far as retrospectives are concerned, I had my own ideas on the subject. As for the conflict, I was very much looking forward to it, because I wanted to be better prepared to deal with this kind of situation that I had been lacking in the past. 
    What is facilitation?The definition of facilitation, as its name indicates, is the ability to make something complicated simple. To become a facilitator is to develop the skills and competencies to simplify things, situations or tasks.

    Developing your talents as a facilitator is for everyone, it’s not (anymore) only reserved for Scrum Masters and Product Owners. I think that everyone can greatly benefit from this type of training.

    Facilitator vs. animator

    There is a difference between facilitating a meeting and animating a meeting. The animator can be the person in charge of the meeting, but that doesn’t necessarily make him/her the facilitator of the meeting. And vice versa. 

    Facilitating a meeting means, among other things, ensuring that the objective of the meeting is met, that the time is respected and that everyone’s participation is equal. Facilitating a meeting also means being able to summarize what was said at the meeting so that everyone can leave with specific points and actions. 

    It also means preparing in advance to ensure that the meeting takes place as desired. To be a good facilitator, you have to be emotionally intelligent, not take things personally, but also know how to hit the pause button to set the stage for a meeting. Some meetings are easier than others. Some are easier to prepare for than others. For example, a meeting to brief a team on a specific project will be lighter than a retrospective meeting. Speaking of retrospective, did you know that a retrospective is not a post-mortem? That was quite a discovery for me.

    A retrospective is not a post-mortem!

    In my career, I have never had the opportunity to experience a retrospective, but I have had post-mortems with my teams, but that is not the same thing. A retrospective, as its name indicates, goes into more depth. Here, we don’t fly over the problem (if there is one), we put our finger on it, we express it and we try to solve it as a group to improve the team’s functioning and the results in the future.

    A retrospective meeting is meant to be a safe environment where everyone can express themselves freely, it is important to establish this circle of trust before starting a retrospective and it is up to the facilitator to do this. I was very impressed with the amount of exercises and games available to facilitate a retrospective. In my opinion, a retrospective meeting is a crucial  step in ensuring the present and future functioning of a team. Unfortunately, these are too often neglected due to lack of time.

    While we live in a fast-paced society, few people have the time to do retrospectives. Let’s be honest, just as a post-mortem can last barely an hour, a retrospective can last several hours. And as my colleague, Sophie Paquette, Marketing Director, says: “Retrospectives are a recurring affair, with the goal of constantly improving as an individual and as a team member.” 

    If I had a message to pass on through my text, it would be this one: don’t neglect the impact of a retrospective and find the time to do it. 

    Facilitation in times of conflict

    The last (but not the least) training on facilitation was about conflict. I was very interested in this one. Conflict, although not common, is part of our professional exchanges. I was fascinated by the theoretical aspect of understanding the nature of conflict. It is the facilitator’s responsibility to identify and calm the conflict. 

    I was very curious to know how this training would be addressed. Learning how to resolve conflict without experiencing it seemed ambitious. Laurence had a surprise in store for us as we had the chance to put ourselves in real conflict situations using role-playing. 
    My takeaway from the trainings

    After having exchanged with other professionals, having experienced role plays and conflicts, I felt better equipped, more confident. I didn’t feel alone anymore. Sometimes we go through situations thinking this only happens to us. Discussing and opening up with others makes us realize that these situations are quite common and that they happen to everyone. Through these courses, I have been able to identify the skills I already possess and bring them to the forefront to make the facilitator in me shine.

    Today, with my colleague, we have implemented the principles learned during these courses to conduct our meetings and improve our processes and procedures, and that changes everything!

    Facilitation is not just for certain roles in the organization. Everyone can benefit from it.  Whether you are in marketing like me, communications, finance, HR, etc.; facilitation is for everyone and will make you a better person.  

Do you want to follow these trainings? Here are the links