Facilitator Journal | Issue #0175 October 19, 2004 | 7,000 Subscribers...
of us know what it's like to be on the receiving end a control drama.
plenty of it, control that is, in our lives. So as adults, it's not
surprising to find many of us sensitive to, even resentful of being
controlled in any way. Further, as facilitators we're taught to be
neutral in our approach to content and let our groups do their own
work. This is a good policy to be sure, however, it's important to
remember that exercising strong control over your group process is
at times, essential. This week's article, "The Role of Control,"
explores the need for healthy use of control in your groups.
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articles and growing
The Role of Control
the degree of control groups require
Most of us have undoubtedly been on the receiving end of many control
relationships throughout our lives. This was certainly true growing up
as children when we needed certain boundaries for our own safety and hopefully
for maintaining some sense of civility in the family. Then on into our
schools, churches, and other community institutions, where subjugation
to the control of others was a fact of life.
So as we grew up and moved on into our workplaces, it's
no wonder that many of us are sensitive to the dynamics of control. As
adults, many of us now resent being controlled in any way. And some get
off controlling others and their environments. In my own experience, I
know that at times I've overreacted to what I experienced as controlling
behavior, and have even been accused of being too controlling myself.
So what is control really and where do we draw the line? Let's first look
at the dictionary definition:
1 : to exercise restraining or directing influence over especially by
2 : to have power or authority over <precedent controls the outcome
in this case>
So is restraining, directing influence, or authority ever appropriate?
Of course. Think big city riots, stampeding elephants, insane serial killers,
unchecked nuclear reactions, gravity, burning solid rocket fuel, etc.
Without the proper use of control and authority, our lives would be quite
a mess I'm sure.
So as facilitators, how much and when should we control a group, if ever?
I've received questions in the past from facilitators concerned that controlling
unproductive behavior in a group is just as dysfunctional as the behavior
in question. Poppycock!
Here's are at least five good reasons groups need to be controlled:
1. We can attend to
only one item at a time individually. Groups can multifocus---can you
say "where in the !@#$! is this group headed?"
2. Left to their own devices, groups tend to fail to separate task from
3. Without leadership (a form of control) the loudest and fastest get
4. Group attack syndrome is common--attack of people stimulated by the
ideas they express.
5. Misuse of power. Managers typically have the power and dictate the
As facilitators, we're taught to be neutral in our approach to content
and let groups do their own work. This is true to be sure, however, sometimes
the personalities best able to remain neutral and out of the limelight
may have concerns about exercising strong control over the group process
when necessary. And yes, it is sometimes VERY necessary.
We've talked in the past about the importance of maintaining the integrity
of the "container" for healthy group process. This is typically
designed by the group with the help of the facilitator in the form of
ground rules by which the group agrees to abide.
Once the container is in place, it's your job as facilitator to maintain
its integrity. Certainly, you'll want to maintain these boundaries firmly,
yet with compassion. But remember this, if ever an individual is attacked
by another, you may need to match the attacker's energy to hold him/her
in check. The integrity of the group and the spirit of collaboration and
trust may be severely, if not irrevocably damaged if you don't. One of
your most critical roles as a facilitator is to provide "protection"
so that individuals can trust that they can share what's on their minds
without being personally attacked.
This extends to protecting the "airspace" as well so that everyone
is granted equal opportunity to speak. You can call this control, and
in a sense it is, but in reality, it's the agreement everyone has made
that is controlling their behavior. You are there to provide friendly,
and sometimes "fierce" reminders of this fact. In the case of
protecting others from personal attack, think "traffic cop."
In the case of protecting the airspace, think "air traffic controller."
Both are essential functions, especially during rush hour and over densely
remember, it's one
thing to be controlled against our will. It's quite another to be controlled
by being held to our mutual agreements by someone who we've given our
authority to do so. If the facilitator has done his/her job correctly,
that's how control should be exercised. By simply reminding those breaching
the ground rules (their agreements) that they are doing so, and requesting
that they either make good on their commitment or seek renegotiation with
the rest of the group.
are your thoughts around group "control" as a facilitator? What
is the nature of your relationship to control? Let
us know what you think.
But Not Accounted For." A pre-recorded
interview featuring Susan Wilson, Facilitator,
Speaker, Author and Founder of Executive Strategies, Inc.
thanks for an hour packed with so many good strategies to apply when we
face difficult situations in a meeting. I especially appreciated your
"Preemptive preparation" approach. Acknowledging specific challenges
and establishing guidelines at the outset can certainly set a meeting
on a more productive mode, while eliminating much of the usual frustrations
and tensions that participants often go through.
Order this one-hour tele-seminar with
Susan Wilson and Steve
Davis and learn...Specific Strategies to Build Curiosity, Commitment
and Collaboration. Some of the points
How do you deal with the participant who have all the answers?
How do you handle participants who continue side conversations and disrupt
How do you deal with group members who don't believe in the team process,
but who remain on the team?
How do you shift a group who's settled for the status quo and just tell
you, "Well that's just the way things are," or "That's
just the way he is"?
How do you handle group members who sabotage the good work done by others
through bad mouthing and other negative behaviors?
What do you do with team members who don't prepare before meetings?
How do you assure that participants take away something of value from
How do you handle participants with personal and/or political agendas
who have no intention of shifting their ground for the greater good of
I thought the
tele-seminar this morning was outstanding. A well spent hour. Susan did
a great job sharing experiences, weaving some story telling in with her
learnings. I would highly recommend it to others. --Sandy Brown, Intel--
Audit. Get Over it and Move On (GOMO) is
a proven 5-step system for acknowledging the issues that create obstacles
in our lives…and for overcoming them!
Great Meeting Quiz. Do your meetings
leave you fully satisfied or are you starving for results? Offer
this brief quiz to your clients to help them discover the changes that
need to be made to make their meetings more appetizing (and effective)!
3. Random Acts of Facilitation Wallet Card.
This handy little tidbit is the size of a business card and lists 25 Random
Acts of Facilitation anyone can commit to further the results of a group.
Great little resource to have handy at meetings.
4. Icebreakers. Three nice
icebreakers exercises with a dozen or so variations that can be used to
start a variety of meetings.
Steve, I have just gotten around to listen to your tele-seminar with Susan
Wilson. It is fantastic! A really great “living” example of facilitation.
The notes are great and I loved the fact that Susan’s “tips” were based
on experience, not theory! --Elaine Wylie, Coach/Trainer--
for details about this interview, the bonuses, and purchase.
Skills : Process Consultation for Small Groups and Teams, by
W. Brendan Reddy
A functional guide that focuses on putting the concept of group-process
consultation into actual practice. Readers will learn how and under what
circumstances a process consultant should intervene to make a group's work
more effective. They'll also discover how to help groups identify, diagnose,
and resolve problems as they occur. Real-world examples show how to make
critical group concepts work. Also includes responses to commonly asked
questions from working group-process consultants. A much-needed guide for
the professional consultant and a useful resource for anyone who plays a
role in the workings of a small group.
Facilitator's Guide for Intervention!
According to our readers, and in our own experience, Group "Intervention"
is one of the most challenging skills to develop as a facilitator.
So, we are especially pleased to finally announce
the release of our second of many planned Facilitator Guides, "Intervene
Here are some reasons you'll want
Just in Time Training" to facilitators and group
workers in the crucial skill area of Group
Process Intervention, more succinctly and completely
than any other document we've seen before.
fluff! This guide is practical, easy to read, with
models, tips, and strategies you can use right away.
an audio portion that answers
real world problems around Intervention.
models that will help you decide when
and when not to Intervene, how
deep to Intervene, and how
to Intervene gracefully.
33-page guide will help you to drill
down deep and master the art of Intervention in any
- This information-packed
guide is a must to include in your personal Facilitator's Toolkit
is this guide most useful for? This
guide is for anyone who plays a facilitative or leadership role
in a group. It explores practical ways to effectively intervene
on individual and group behaviors to realign, refocus, challenge,
or protect group process. In particular, it is useful for group
facilitators, trainers, life coaches, teachers, business and community
leaders, and managers, whatever level of skill they have in group
Here's an overview of the contents of this
What is an Intervention? Our
guide is built on the following definition of Intervention:
Any interruption by the facilitator to
further the goals of a group and the health of its process, using
as light a touch as possible.
of Interventions. Why do we intervene?
What kinds of things are we after in an intervention? The reasons
are many. Learn about the five key "types" of
Core Values of Intervention. Learn about
values Facilitators can draw upon
to inform their decisions to intervene and their approaches for
Intervention Skills. Learn the three
basic skills required by a facilitator to effectively Intervene
What are Effective Behaviors? Learn the
12 Characteristics of Functional Groups recently developed
by FacilitatorU. They build upon each other in a functional hierarchy
that moves from inwardly
to outwardly focused behaviors, which each one building upon the
next. This model will give you the Snapshot of a Functional
Group--critical as a foundation from which to Intervene.
A Model for Diagnosis and Intervention. Learn
a simple 6-step model for diagnosis and intervention that
will make Intervention a whole lot easier.
Guidelines and Strategies for Intervention. Learn
10 practical guidelines and strategies that show you when
and how to intervene.
When Not to Intervene. Learn to recognize
the situations where Intervention is not appropriate.
Raising the Bar. Learn 6 keys to continuously
building your capacity to Intervene Effectively.
Facilitator's Intervention Checklist.
A 10-part checklist to help you decide
when an intervention is appropriate.
Worksheets. Worksheets to collect
your own ideas, resources, and actions to employ what you learn
from the guide.
RealAudio of the 50-minute TeleClass. Contains
a lively real-audio recording of a recent teleclass exploring the
application of Intervention models and strategies to participant's
Cost of this Guide: $17.95
Click here to purchase for $17.95
any two guides or any combination of our other products totalling
$18 or more by this Friday and receive 20% off your total. Click
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Your discount will be computed at checkout.
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