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Skill of the Week

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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0021 | October 2, 2001
6,000 Subscribers


Intervention Skill

You Can Facilitate Group Process as a Participant
Can you really improve group effectiveness as a mere follower?


The Point?

How many times have you found yourself as a member of a group that was starving for good leadership and facilitation, but where you didn't possess the official leadership role? How many times have you felt helpless in this situation? You may clearly see the ineffective dynamics going on in the group but you don't know if you should intervene, or how you would go about it if you decided it was appropriate.  What a frustrating situation!  I've been there and I know you have too. So what can you do to improve group effectiveness as a mere follower?

First, it's important to acknowledge your fears about speaking out. Any number of fears may be present. You may fear the impact speaking out might have on your job if this is a work group. You may fear an emotional reaction from the leader or from other participants. You might simply fear the appearance of looking stupid. After all, everyone else seems to be going along with things as they are. Right? So it's important to recognize and acknowledge any fears you have around rocking the boat so to speak, and just know that these fears are natural and OK.

Next, get clear on the positive intent you have for intervening in the group process. It's important to find an intention that is for the greater good of the entire group so that if you do intervene, you do so from a place of compassion and support for all participants, including yourself.

Then, if you decide to intervene with the group, consider these factors: 
- Timing (where in the meeting you intervene).
- Context with whom do you intervene? The whole group, an individual in the group, the group leader?)
- Content (what you say to the group).
- Attitude (how you say what you say to the group).

We'll explore this fertile area in more detail in future issues of the journal. If you have any experience in this arena that you'd like to share, please
email them to me. Thanks!


Example

I remember sitting in weekly staff meetings during my last stint in Corporate Hell. They seemed to go on forever. There was so much tension in the air, you could cut it with a knife. So much unsaid frustration, fear, resentment, and just plain exhaustion as a result of holding all the tension inside. I remember occasionally making feeble attempts to shift the energy but I felt like I was speaking a foreign language. The leader was very controlling and emotionally shut down, and we all instinctively felt that sharing our truth was off limits.

I'm not going to try to impress you here. In my mind I failed to ever do anything to positively impact the dynamics of this group. I felt like an "outsider" in that I was a subcontractor manager working in the prime contractor organization. There existed a substantial cultural difference between my home organization and the one in which I found myself. To be honest, I was scared to death of rocking the boat. So I just checked out. Later, I did start to rock the boat in the things I did as a manager and was soon dismissed. Free from the Corporate Prison (that I never plan to return to) but feeling that if I was only more courageous, I could have at least expressed my truth and felt more integrity within myself. But looking back, the fog was so thick, I was out of touch with and distrusting of my truth.

So I appeal to you good readers, not as the great wizard facilitator, but as a humble student seeking new and creative ways to be an effective group member and catalyst, in the midst of sometimes stifling atmospheres. Though I find it fairly easy to intervene as a group member when my financial well-being isn't at stake, it's another story when you're risking your livelihood. Please read my invitation below and help start a dialogue on the subject of freeing ourselves from the organizational prisons of our own making.


Action

Iím interested in hearing your perspectives on this topic and how this information might help you in your efforts to facilitate a group wherein you have been a participant. Please email me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue.


cartoon image of a talking man.

Reader Survey 
What are your experiences with group intervention as a participant?

This week, we're asking that you recall experiences you've had as a member of a group where you either successfully or unsuccessfully attempted to intervene to improve the direction of the group. Here are some questions to get you thinking:

- What challenges have you had as a group member where you've felt powerless to affect any change from within?
- What questions have you posed to a group to improve its process?
- What actions have you take to shift a group as a member?
- What stories would you be willing to share about your experiences as a bold group participant/leader?

Please send us your input and we'll make all of your ideas and experiences available to everyone who contributes.

Please email your responses to me at ../contact.php. Thanks for your help in making the MasterFacilitatorJournal.com site the best facilitation resource site on the web!


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

 

picture of Steve Davis, editor of the Master Facilitator Journal.

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 9, 2001. 

 

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