Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0258, May 30, 2006 ....

Dear friends,

Sometimes our trainings, workshops, and facilitated groups miss the mark because they weren't designed or conducted according to the expectations of our sponsors or participants. Understanding and managing expectations is essential to getting the results your client wants. This week's article, "Managing Expectations," offers 10 tips to assure that your groups get what they came for.

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The Point

Managing Expectations
Assure your participants understand
your role and responsibilities, and theirs.

Logistics Skill

Have you ever presented a lengthy training session, workshop, or group event only to hear, after it's all over and done with, something to this effect from a participant, "Gee, this session simply wan't what expected it to be at all." Further, this very person, likely never said a word during the session to give you the idea they weren't getting what they were after.

The incident cited above, barring the possibility of unconscious sabotage, is most likely a case of mismatched expectations. Understanding and managing expectations is essential to getting the results your clients seek. The following tips will help to assure that your sponsor and participants get the results they're after in your groups.


1. Get clear on your sponsor's expectations. Often managers and leaders come to us to offer training to their people in the hopes of solving a particular problem, clear that they know the source and solution to their problem. More often than not, they aren't all that clear on the problem at all, much less the solution. The clearer you can get about the result your sponsor wants, the better you'll be able to recommend and design a workable solution in the form of a training session, group process, or some other intervention.

2. Ask your participants to share their expectations and objectives before the group meets. Use email, memos, faxes, telephone conversations, or whatever media necessary to connect with your participants. Solicit input two or three times if necessary to get response from the majority of your them.

3. Weigh these inputs with what you plan to cover. Integrate these inputs into the agenda if practical. If you don't, let the person know why, and offer them an alternative way of getting what they need.

4. Get group consensus on the objectives
. At the start of the session, review your planned objectives, integrating changes, corrections, or additions that come from your group.

5. Define the "role" of your participants. Facilitate agreement up front about what it means to be a participant in this group. Agree on participant responsibilities and expectations. Ask them to be responsible for getting what they need from the group and for speaking up if they aren't. Consider integrating these responsibilities into your groundrules with your group's consent.

6. Define your role as facilitator or group leader. Make the extent of your responsibilities clear with your group as well. Let them know what they can expect from you and what's beyond your role.

7. Check in with your group throughout the session to see how you're doing meeting their expectations. If things seem off course, work with your participants to make course corrections.

8. Listen, feel, and observe body language to get a sense for how aligned participants are with the current direction of the group. Check in with them if you feel something is off. Work with participants to assure the current work relates to their collective objectives.

9. For recurring groups, ask participants at the end of the session to share the value they're taking away with them. Also ask what suggestions they have for improvement or areas they want to see covered in the future.

10. Know that you can't always please everyone all the time. Some people will play the victim role, purposely not stating their needs until it's too late. You can't force your participants to be responsible. If you've done all of the above, giving everyone ample opportunity to make their needs known and you've made reasonable adjustments to meet them, you've fulfilled your responsibilities to the group.


Which of the actions above will you take this week to better manage your group's expectations? What new actions or changes, if any will you take as a result of these tips. Just click reply and type them directly into this email.


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