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Skill of the Week

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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0020 | September 25, 2001
5,750 Subscribers

Logistics Skill

*Make a Clean Contract for Facilitation 
Taking the time to clarify who, what, why, and how you're going to work together will bolster your chances of success.

The Point?

What is a facilitation contract?
Contracting for facilitation is really about developing an "agreement" that reflects clear expectations about how the facilitator and the group will work together. This is intended to be a relational agreement, not a legal one, and is a critical first step to developing trust between you and your new client. An ineffective or non-existent agreement will most likely result in problems later in the facilitation process.

Why develop a facilitation agreement?
- To clarify the expectations of each party, which may include the  objectives and boundaries of facilitation, ground rules, confidentiality issues, roles of the facilitator and group members, how decisions are made, and when it will end.
- Because facilitation is about process and process is about relationships, the contracting process offers an opportunity for facilitator and group members to see each other in action. The process of these initial meetings will reflect a lot about how the process of the actual facilitation will go, allowing each party to see if they want to work together.
- To begin the trust-building process between the facilitator and group members--a key requirement for success in working with the group in the future.

Who do you work with to develop the agreement?
Very often, you may be approached for facilitation services by a contact person who might not be part of the group with whom you'll be working. This is alright, but understand that the individuals you'll be working with must be the ones that make a free and informed choice to ask for the facilitator's help. The primary client is responsible for seeking help and ultimately cannot delegate that responsibility. You must talk to the people you're going to be working with to determine their motivation to deal with the problems at hand. If facilitation is forced on anyone, it will fail from the start.


What are the elements of a good facilitation contract or agreement? They might include answers to the following questions:

- Who is the primary client and who will be attending the meetings? Will all those needed to make the necessary decisions and provide required information be present? Are any participants being included whose presence isn't necessary for solving the problems?
- What are the objectives of the meetings? Is the facilitation to be basic or developmental? Do all participants agree with the objectives?
- What are the agendas for the meetings? Do these agendas make effective use of the facilitator's skills and those of the participants?
- Where and how long will the group meet? Is the meeting place conducive to open discussion? Is it considered neutral by all participants? Is the time allotted sufficient to accomplish objectives?
- What are the roles of the different parties? Facilitator, lea
der, members?
- What ground rules will the group follow? How will decisions be made? What are the limits on confidentiality?
- How will the group assess its progress? 
- How will the facilitator's performance be assessed?
- What are the facilitator's fees and other charges?
- How long will the contract be in effect?
- When and how is the contract changed?
- How and when will the tentative contract be conveyed to all parties?

This material was adapted from "The Skilled Facilitator," Roger Schwarz, Jossey-Bass Inc., 1994, wiith permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


How has your approach, or lack thereof, to develop an initial facilitation agreement impacted your work as a facilitator in the past? Iím interested in hearing your perspectives on this topic and how this information might help you in your role as a facilitator in the groups with whom you work?  Please email me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue.

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Reader Survey 
What are your experiences with Marketing your skills and services?

This week, we're asking that you reflect on your attitudes and success in marketing yourself, your business, or your services in the past using whatever methods you've used. How do you feel about the marketing you've done? Has it been successful? How do you feel about marketing in general? Do you wish there were less aggressive ways to attract clients? Please send us the answers to these questions. We'll make all of these available to everyone who contributes.

Please email your responses to me at Thanks for your help in making the site the best facilitation resource site on the web!

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Interactive Forum
Creating Dialogue With Our Readers
In an effort to stimulate discussion on facilitation tips, tools, and processes that are relevant to your interests, we'd like to hear from you. Please post your answers to the questions on our interactive forum to stimulate discussion on these topics, or simply send me your feedback and I'll post it here or at the forum. Here is some recent feedback from one of our readers:

Here is a great Icebraker exercise brought to you by Christiane Boisjoly. This one sounds like it could quickly get people sharing at a fairly deep level in a spirit of humor. I look forward to trying this one out myself. Thanks Christiane!

Here is one that I used with a group of people who already knew each other, i.e. they were all part of the same department in a large organization. I showed them sections of the movie/video "As Good as it Gets". Then everyone was invited to share with the group one example of their own "strange" behaviors. The participants were told to: "Share one thing about yourself that no one in this group would know about". And I facilitated the exercise by starting with myself; and I was generous and gave two examples. It took a while before the first participant accepted to volunteer, but as we went on (there were about 16 participants in the group), everyone was really having fun AND getting to know one another so much better. One year later I am still getting comments on that exercise and how much it helped the group to gel.

Please email your questions and input to us. We look forward to hearing from you.

If you know someone who might benefit and enjoy this newsletter, please send this link to a friend.  


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About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to stretch beyond their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 

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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on Oct 2, 2001. 


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