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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.
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
- 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.
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
- What are the objectives of the meetings? Is the facilitation
to be basic or developmental? Do all participants agree with
- What are the agendas for the meetings? Do these agendas
make effective use of the facilitator's skills and those of
- 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
- What are the roles of the different parties? Facilitator,
- 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
This material was adapted from "The Skilled Facilitator,"
Roger Schwarz, Jossey-Bass Inc., 1994, wiith permission of John
Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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.
What are your experiences with Marketing your skills and
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?
us the answers to these questions. We'll make
all of these available to everyone who contributes.
Please email your responses to me at email@example.com.
Thanks for your help in making the MasterFacilitatorJournal.com
site the best facilitation resource site on the web!
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
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
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.
your questions and input to us. We look forward to hearing