Hello MFJ Readers.
of the most persistent concerns facilitators voice is that
of acquiring full participation from individuals in their
groups. But what do we mean by "full participation?"
Do we mean everyone in the group actively engaged either by
speaking up in the group or involving themselves in the activities?
Do we mean that they are fully present and listening to all
that others are expressing? How much participation is enough?
These are the questions this issue explores.
We're happy to introduce a free teleclass this Thursday at
8PM EDT on the topic of "Getting Full Participation."
This class will explore a new model of group participation
and many strategies one can use to facilitate it. The class
will be recorded and to become part of the first "Facilitator's
Guide" to be released next week by FacilitatorU.com.
Please see details below and sign up now as space is limited.
Also if you're interested in attending our first teleclass
on Appreciate Inquiry, you must sign up now as it starts tomorrow,
Wednesday, June 11th at 2PM EDT. There is still room. Click
on the banner to the right for details and registration info.
If you or your colleagues are interested in submitting an
article for consideration, please email
your ideas. I'd love to hear from you.
Have a great week...
Learn different strategies
to engage participants in different ways.
of full group participation is often overlooked and undervalued,
particularly by groups whose inordinate focus is on the "results"
or product, at the expense of the process. Often, the damage
done by this approach, in time, is what stimulates a group
to seek expert facilitation. Continued inattention to process
may lead to weakened or strained relationships between group
members, decline in group effectiveness, decreasing buy-in
and resultant support of decisions made by the group, reduction
of group energy, synergy, and enthusiasm, and a real lack
of enjoyment participating in the group.
Why is full participation important?
- Get larger buy-in from group members, which tends to make
the execution of any solutions more long-lasting and efficient.
- Generate fewer opportunities for barriers to develop. Some
content being held by silent group members can provide the
missing piece necessary to free up a group that is stuck.
- Lower tendency for group to fall into group-think and resultant
narrowing of perspectives and possibilities.
- Get access to the full wisdom and knowledge available to
the group. Often, those who are the most quiet have the most
to say, as they tend to be more observant and sometimes more
objective about what's going on in a group.
- Collaboration requires full participation. Just as good
democracy requires hearing many voices, group problem-solving,
learning, visioning, decision-making, etc. is more effective
with full participation.
what is full participation and how do we facilitate it? To
answer this question, it may be helpful to view the means
by which we do so from a holistic perspective around the physical,
mental, and emotional dimensions as shown in the Venn diagram
At the physical level it's important to provide various
activities that engage participants so as to accommodate
different learning styles and preferences, i.e. visual,
aural, and kinesthetic. Participants must be given the opportunity
to participate in ways that work for them. For example,
they may need time to share their observations and experiences,
and possibly using different formats, i.e. verbal, small
group, large group, journaling, drawing, etc. Finally, the
environment should be physically comfortable and conducive
to the kind of participation you're aiming for. For example,
if you're planning to pair people up, a configuration of
long meeting tables tightly arranged would probably not
be appropriate. If you're aiming for lots of large group
interactive discussion, you'd want to set up a circle or
horseshoe arrangement of chairs instead of a classroom like
At the mental level it can be useful to present new information
that has some relationship to what's already familiar to
the group. Inviting participants to share where they already
are is easy for them to do, and gives them a sense of their
starting point. To insure higher levels of participation,
you must also be the gatekeeper of boredom. Strive to make
your activities and presentations interesting, compelling
and provocative to stimulate people. Stay conscious of the
level of energy and engagement in the room and change something
if interest appears to be lacking. Again, it's also important
to be aware of the differences between visual, aural, and
kinesthetic (VAK) participants and use multiple modes of
presentation to engage each of these senses. Just remember,
keen interest equals active participation!
At the emotional level it's clear that people will participate
only to the level they feel safe in doing so. Trust and
safety have arguably the largest impact on the level of
participation you can expect. Build trust gradually, interjecting
increasingly risky activities as trust increases. Facilitating
and managing an environment of mutual respect, acknowledgment,
and validation in all interactions and intra-actions between
yourself and all participants will foster a feeling of safely
and maximize participation. Further, presenting material,
exercises, and processes that are directly relevant to what
the group is there to accomplish is critical to inspiring
their involvement. If relevance is not apparent during initial
phases of an activity, its objectives and purpose should
be explained and agreed upon at the start to get buy-in
from the group.
|What are some of
the challenges you have to facilitating full participation
in your groups? I'd love to hear them. Please email
us your comments.
As a Facilitator,
what can you tell us about the design of experiential exercises?
As facilitators, we know the impact that experiential activities
can have on group process and adult learning. Our questions
this week focus on the design of such exercises. We'd like
to hear about your experience in this area. Please reflect
on the following questions and share your wisdom with us:-
How do you go about designing exercises for a particular group
- What are the attributes of an effective exercise?
- How do you design the exercise to account for the unique
content focus of the group?
We'd appreciate your thoughts on the above questions. Please
us your responses. All those who respond will be sent
the entire collection.