How often have you been invited to be part of a group assembled at a conference, planning session or workshop to explore some small group issue? These groups are usually asked to do their work without an assigned facilitator. Have you seen groups like this struggle when no one steps in or knows how to step in to keep them on course?
In situations like this, I’ve often thought it would be a great gift to suggest someone take the lead facilitating these groups and that they be offered a short primer for how to do so…a simple model, so practical and easy to remember that they could actually use it.
I’ve taken on the task of designing just such a simple model and outlined it below. I look forward to any feedback you have that might help refine this for use in interim small group leadership.
The 3 P’s of small group facilitation
Within each “P” are three questions that are each to remember, Who? What? and How?
What: Briefly discuss the group’s goal to make sure everyone understands the purpose and desired outcome of their work together.
Who: Who are you, the participants, and what do we expect from each other in this role? Assign roles to keep others more engaged and to allow you to focus on engaging the group. Who wants to take notes, keep time, keep us on track, etc.?
How: How will we commit to working together to achieve our goal? In other words, what process will we use? Also, how much time will we allot to each task?
What: Clarify what’s said to acknowledge input and to make sure it is heard by others. Repeat and rephrase the objective to keep the group on task. Redirect to minimize tangents? Let’s get back to ideas on our question…
Who: it’s about them, not you. Talk enough to stimulate input from participants. You’re role is to get the group sharing on topic. Encourage response from all participants, not just the most vocal. Who wants to share next?
How: manage the process decided above to reach the intended goal. Example of typical processes might include: answering a question, sharing an experience, brainstorming ideas, reflecting on a prior activity, etc. Keep individuals focused on the process, maintain an energetic pace, and get full participation based on time allowed. Remember, right now we’re being asked to share our experience around “XYZ”.
What: Some groups may be scheduled to meet again to complete a more detailed process. Clarify any actions required in the interim. What are our next steps?
Who: Make sure every action is assigned to someone. Who has the most energy around each action? Who’s doing X and by when?
How: Review how well the goals of your meeting were accomplished and celebrate your progress!
How might you use the small group guidelines above to support those you work with? What about the above model that you would add or change? Please share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic in the comments section below.