During this week’s workshop (see previous post) we have been acting as Developmental Facilitators, that is facilitators who have as one of their main goals building the group’s capacity to deal with its own issues. As such, the interventions made are aimed at helping the group deal with task and maintenance (group dynamic) issues. These interventions are often made in the form of declarative statements rather than questions, so that the group does not necessarily feel the need to answer to the facilitator, thus drawing him/her into their discussion. But rather considering the interjection and then deciding together if they want to act on it or not (apparently 50% of the time, these interventions are appropriate and useful to the group.)

I captured a number of good intervention statements made this week during our work and thought it would be useful to post them…Imagine that you are with a group that is working on an important project, and you have someone sitting with you observing your work, and they say the following, what would you do?

  • You might find it useful to summarise the objectives and outcomes you expect from this meeting.
  • I see a difference among team members in engagement and ownership of the results of this workshop.
  • Everyone’s putting out ideas, but no one is linking them together.
  • You stated your set of objectives at the beginning of the meeting. Are the behaviours we are seeing going to help you get there, or will they get in the way?
  • It seems that you need your team’s support to make this project work. You might want to find out what support they need from you to participate.
  • You sound defensive to me. You might consider how your own attitude about the proposed change is filtering down to your team.
  • This specific issue seems to be coming up repeatedly and may signal some underlying concerns. If you ignore them now, will you really be able to function effectively as a group on other tasks?
  • A moment ago the group decided to go in this direction and you agreed. Are you going to reverse that decision now, and if so what’s the implication for what you want to get done today?
  • You might want to change chairs and paraphrase what you heard the other person saying.
  • There’s clearly a lot of emotion in the room.
  • I sense some fear in the group around dealing openly with interpersonal issues and wonder if that is blocking progress on the task in this group.
  • When you speak to each other rather than me (the facilitator) I notice that you have more clarity on the task.

These kinds of statements are interesting to keep in mind to tickle the memory about different ways to intervene in groups. They go from safe to very risky and always need to be chosen and crafted thoughtfully. Having said that, these kinds of interventions can be useful whether you are a facilitator, leader or team member – anyone interested in getting a group to think about how it is working and what the members could consider to help them move to a higher level of awareness and performance.

1 reply
  1. ren-new
    ren-new says:

    Great post & great workshop! I also found it interesting that the moments when a group most benefits from such facilitation, are the moments that I as a facilitator feel it is most risky to offer a comment. Risky because I worry I am interrupting a flow; that the emotion in the group could suddenly transfer onto me; or that there is no time for reflection as the urgency of the task is so great. Yet it is precisely those moments in which it is useful to have a facilitator make an observation: it provides space and a name to a moment/dynamic and invites reflection and adaptation. I have seen the adaptation happen in an instant – the naming was enough and no discussion was necessary. But the intervention ensured we kept listening to eachother, and forestalled a buildup of little miscommunications and interpretations and counter-dynamics that could otherwise have impeded all progress. In this way an intervention actually keeps things moving much more rapidly and efficiently.

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