Recently we received a request for facilitation to discuss burnout and succession planning. The group was comprised of experienced managers who had been on the same team for more than two years. They called us because they were stuck, and simply could not see a path forward. What they expected were solutions generated by us; what they got was a clear path forward created by their desire to improve and willingness to accept the challenging situation.

This is an example of one of many requests for facilitation we receive. But what is facilitation and what makes for an excellent facilitator? Facilitation is the process of guiding and directing a group of individuals to effectively communicate, collaborate, and achieve their objectives. A skilled facilitator acts as a neutral guide, overseeing group discussions, problem-solving sessions, and decision-making processes to ensure that all voices are heard, diverse perspectives are considered, and consensus is reached.

Facilitation can be used for many things; in this case it was for both team building and organizational change initiatives. These leaders were stuck, and what they needed to do is navigate through challenging discussions with someone not tied to the outcome; they needed an expert who could help them get unstuck.

This group was able to come together and accomplish their three goals:

1. Collectively, there were able to enhance their decision-making by promoting open dialogue and constructive engagement. Furthermore, they were able to explore different viewpoints that were previously raised, but never explored in depth or implemented.

2. Second, they were in a space of improved communication and collaboration. This was done because the facilitator helped the individuals feel empowered to express their ideas, concerns, and perspectives without fear of judgement from the group.

3. Finally, while it was a long day, the team experienced increased productivity because they were able to stay focused on the core issues discussed throughout the day. They were able to walk away with tangible action items for each member of the team and had a clear road ahead.

Facilitation is not just about managing meetings; it is about creating an environment where teams can collaborate, innovate, and thrive. A skilled and effective facilitator will conduct a thorough investigation into the team’s dynamics, goals, challenges, and internal barriers before the session. This is done by using tools such as coaching, collaboration, and accountability.

Getting back to the team who requested facilitation support, after their initial (full day) meeting they were able to forge a path forward by understanding the root cause of their staff’s burnout and identify internal allies who could help implement some of the changes discussed in our session. In this session they co-created solutions that could be implemented immediately to show their teams how much their efforts contributed to mission success and how much they were appreciated. Without this group facilitation the team might have remained stuck in the present and unable to progress their teams and help them feel appreciated.

For more information on executive coaching programs, leadership training, and facilitation services Sonoma County, contact The Personnel Perspective by calling (707) 576-7653 to explore how these initiatives can benefit your organization and its employees.