Group dynamics can be difficult at best when critical decisions need to be made. A group facilitator interacts with groups that need coaching to work productively as a team to reach an end goal. Facilitation skills are necessary if you want to work with and help groups, such as business teams, educators or community organizations; these groups may have differences in perspectives, cultures and backgrounds that have shaped viewpoints and stifled progress. A facilitator serves as the process manager for getting past these obstacles, so the group can communicate effectively.
A group facilitator is responsible for helping participants reach decisions and accomplish goals. Your duties include working with groups to clarify meeting content, objectives and to establish ground rules that govern behavior. Facilitator duties also involve selecting appropriate methods and tools that will enable participants to achieve results. When problems or issues come up, facilitators work with the group to resolve conflict and return to goals. Other duties as a group facilitator include creating environments that allow civil dialogue and input from all participants and above all -- remaining neutral throughout the process.
As a facilitator, you must be comfortable with working with group dynamics while managing the meeting or activity process. You must be competent at making observations and recognizing when interactions, situations or group dynamics change. And if there are disruptive behaviors, promptly intervene to disperse or extinguish them. Facilitators are assertive enough to get things on track with appropriate suggestions or redirecting group efforts. Group facilitators are also able to summarize chunks of information for clarity and understanding.
To be a facilitator requires communication, listening and social skills. You will also need skills in group learning techniques, as well as skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, team building, planning and organizing. These skills are necessary for your role as facilitator to enable participative discussions and learning among group members, allowing them to express and present different opinions while maintaining a respectful environment. Facilitators are also skilled at introducing a variety of strategies to keep the process structured without interfering with group productivity.
Education and Training
Professional certifications are recommended to insure facilitators meet core competencies. While higher education institutions do not normally provide facilitation curriculum, you can be successful as a facilitator with a training background. Work experience alongside a skilled facilitator can help you understand the scope of service and how to provide service successfully without overreaching in your role. Improper facilitation techniques can have an adverse effect on group participants. Training and experience in behavior analysis and effective intervention techniques add value.
Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.