Before choosing a facilitator ask yourself, do you really need one? A facilitator can be a valuable help to your business, but not all situations require a facilitator.

A facilitator may be useful when

  • Your business is experiencing times of change and uncertainty
  • A group is facing unusual challenges
  • There is intra-group conflict
  • The leader needs to work with the group (or be part of the group)
  • A group feels “stuck” and is not achieving high performance
  • There is a lack of commitment or action when it comes to implementing plans
  • You have to guide a large group through a conversation or agenda
  • You have a situation where innovation or creative thinking is essential

What to look for in a facilitator

Here are some of the attributes you should look for in a facilitator if you are considering hiring one:

  • Professionalism – does your facilitator do this job regularly, as a primary business?
  • Experience – have they facilitated in a range of challenging contexts? What happened?
  • Training – has your facilitator been trained formally in the techniques of facilitation and the psychology of groups?
  • Results – do they have a track record of results?
  • Testimonials – can they point to happy clients?
  • Grit – will they be able to hold your team focused on an important issue, even if it means sacrificing some easy immediate likability?
  • Attitude – does your candidate have a positive and agreeable nature?
  • An ability to listen to the conversation and read between the lines – will they be able to see the “real” conversation as it happens?
  • An ability to reframe – can your facilitator reframe your business challenges and present them in constructive ways?
  • A breadth of experience in business and life – does your facilitator have experience in business so they can empathise with your issues?
  • Ability to access and implement a range of tools and group development models. Can they point to 30 or more techniques and tools at their immediate disposal?

Traps when choosing a facilitator

  • Choosing an agency person who seems likeable and charismatic.
  • You know someone who seems very outgoing and ask them to do you a favour.
  • Choosing the most senior person to “take control”. You’re the boss, right? So you “should” be the facilitator?
  • Choosing someone who always makes the team have fun – fun is good, but results are more important.
  • Selecting someone who promises to just step in and make it happen on the day without preparation.
  • Scrimping on the facilitation budget for a team meeting or conference that matters.