• Hello @ Werkling

Four things to consider when choosing a facilitator for your next team day

As Priya Parker writes, “The way we gather matters”.

Choosing a facilitator for your team day, or any other workshop or work event, can feel a little overwhelming. How do you pinpoint the type of facilitator you need, and define the skills and style that are best suited for your team?

Werkling is no stranger to helping leaders find that perfect ‘facilitator fit’ and has compiled a list of the four top considerations for choosing your next facilitator.

Understand the outcome

The first thing to get clear on is whether you want;

  1. A facilitator (someone neutral who can create a process and the space to help the group get to solution, ideas, decisions or team outcome), or

  2. A trainer/subject matter expert (who can train the group and impart knowledge on a specific topic).

Another way to think about it is do you need a business outcome, or a learning outcome? It’s important to note that most facilitators are also trainers, but not all trainers are facilitators.

Using the example of a team day, you’ll likely need something bespoke.

A great facilitator will help you shape a session that is unique for your situation based on the outcomes needed and create an engaging experience for your team.

Question to ask a facilitator: Can you give me an example of a recent team day and share how you designed the session and the outcomes? They should be able to give you examples of how they approach team day / workshop design for different contexts.

Define your purpose

Purpose is important for many reasons, and your workshop or team day is no exception. Having a clear view on a few key questions will help your search for the right facilitator;

  • Why are you getting together at this time?

  • What are the most important outcomes the team needs to discuss/spend time on?

  • What do you want your team to do after their time together?

  • How do you want your team to feel after time together?

Defining your purpose will help establish if you need someone who’s going to bring next-level creativity, or someone who can hold the space for some hard conversations.

Because let’s face it, doing the marshmallow and spaghetti game when what the team really needs is to address a gigantic elephant in the room, is a missed opportunity, and could even do more harm than good.

Question to ask a facilitator: Ok, this is a bit meta, but a great facilitator will ask you questions to help further define the purpose for your workshop. So listen out for a prospective facilitator asking great questions about the challenges you’re facing, and the outcomes you want to achieve.

Create time to do it properly

A significant percentage of the success of a workshop happens before anyone walks into a room. Great facilitators will have a view on how they want to engage with you, and the group, in advance of your session.

They may want to do interviews, pre-work, or have some kind of contact or communications with the participants. This builds trust, and helps the facilitator understand what’s really happening in the organisation, in the words of the people closest to it.

So take this as a friendly nudge. If you know you’re planning a team day in the coming months, start sourcing your facilitator now.

The inside scoop: Werkling facilitators report that facilitation work is typically busier between February and June, and again from September to December. If you want your first choice of facilitator, the earlier you get in touch, the better. Most facilitators will be perfectly happy if you contact them before you have a final date booked in, and can often provide useful insight when it comes to venue planning.

Question to ask a facilitator: Ask the facilitator how they typically engage with their clients / teams ahead of a session, and how they would like to prepare for yours.

Be clear on everyone’s role

You’ve thought about your objectives and outcomes from the session, and how you want everyone to feel walking away, so now it’s time to think about roles.

First things first, the facilitator is there to guide, challenge, and prompt the group through an opportunity or challenge. They are not there to have, or come up with, the answer for you. (I know, sorry).

Do you need the facilitator to:

  • Ask the hard questions that the team won’t ask themselves?

  • Create an environment and experience where the team can think differently, and solve problems?

  • Create a level of structure and process to help the group make a decision they’ve been struggling with?

Once you’ve thought about the facilitator’s role, you can think about your own role. You’re the leader of the team on a day to day basis, but what does that mean in the team day or workshop? What is your role in the group in helping them overcome a challenge, or generate more creative ideas? Do you need to step up, or sit back?

Being really clear on this role upfront will prevent awkwardness and make sure your outcomes are achieved.

Question to ask a facilitator: ask the facilitator what role they would like you to play, as the sponsor of the team day / workshop. They may have specific ideas where they would like you to ‘go first’, and other areas where they’d like you to sit back to let the group contribute.

As our teams navigate this new world of work in the pandemic era and beyond, finding space for dedicated time together has never been so important. Whether in-person or virtual, a great facilitator can drive real, tangible outcomes and have a lasting impact that stretches far beyond the workshop.

Need a facilitator? Werkling matches leaders to peer-recommended on-demand talent. Within our talented community we have some truly exceptional facilitators. If you are planning a team day, strategy session, creative ideation workshop, hard team conversation or hybrid ways of working session, please get in touch.