The role of a facilitator is not that easy if you think about guiding the group throughout the whole process to achieve a smooth and productive result of a discussion, training session, or team activity.
The facilitator guides the participants to a “learning journey” in discovering their own experiences and exploring those of others, identifying their strengths and weak points, and sharing what they already know to the rest. In some cases, the facilitator also shares his knowledge apart from just guiding them in the process.
Since the task is challenging, the facilitator must be effective in many aspects to ensure that the participants meet their learning needs and the group achieves its desired objectives for the training or activity. A failed or poorly carried out activity may be partially blamed to an ineffective facilitator. However, it does not mean that the facilitator should be some kind of superhuman. Basic personal and professional competencies are simply required for the facilitation role to be performed properly.
Let us categorize these characteristics into three major areas: attitude, knowledge, and skills.
A Facilitator’s Competency: Knowledge
The role of a facilitator is properly manifested with apt knowledge of the given subject for the discussion. You have to have an understanding of what the purpose is for having a workshop or such an activity. And this knowledge we are talking about is not just knowledge about the subject matter of the workshop or the session but a wide interest and awareness of the community and the society as a whole.
The facilitator should have a good understanding of the organizational issues, too. This is necessary especially when the participants will ask a question about the subject matter, the facilitator will be able to offer information and solicit ideas that may enlighten the group. With the proper knowledge, there is a smooth interaction and discussion between the facilitator and the group.
A Facilitator’s Competency: Skills
Good facilitation skills must be demonstrated. This would include the ability to communicate, the ability to manage and lead a group, the skill to actively listen and use effective questioning technique, and the capability to easily resolve conflicts or misunderstanding.
With good communication skills, the facilitator is able to create a healthy interaction among the participants, elaborates the points of the team and his own, and effectively conveys ideas and messages to them.
Good management skill is also an asset of an effective facilitator who knows very well how to motivate and empower the team members to bring out the best in them and evenly delegates tasks to each participant.
Two of the most essential skills of a facilitator are active listening and effective questioning. A good facilitator knows how to hear not just the words but the thought or the message and responds appropriately.
Asking good and intelligent questions that would help the participants discover themselves and reflect on the situation is a manifestation of an effective facilitator. Lastly, the excellent facilitator has a knack for recognizing a problem as it comes, and does something to resolve it.
A Facilitator’s Competency: Attitude
People love to be with a person of desirable attitude and a pleasant manner of dealing with other people. A facilitator should have a friendly and honest disposition. It is difficult to socialize with the members if the facilitator himself is not that friendly and sociable. During the workshop or training session, equal treatment should be given to all the members, knowing how to consider the differences of each one’s personalities.
A good facilitator must be patient and persevering in order to appreciate and understand the difficulties of the team and also to have determination in seeing a task accomplished and the objectives achieved. This also means having a sense of empathy for those participants who need to be understood.
Moreover, the facilitator must be respectable to get the admiration of each member as someone whom they can rely on and look up to. Commitment to help the participants learn for themselves should be one of his main targets.
A confident facilitator will project a positive and purposeful atmosphere in a workshop. A competent facilitator should also definitely demonstrate a professional attitude in carrying out the function.