Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0318, October 2, 2007

Dear friends,
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Most facilitators I speak with prefer working on a facilitation team rather than working solo. While there are many advantages to facilitation teams, there are challenges as well. In this week's article, "Facilitating as a Team," we discuss the gifts and pitfalls of team facilitation. We look forward to hearing your ideas and experiences on this issue as well.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
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The Point

Facilitating as a Team
Partnering with one or more facilitators can make for a more dynamic and exciting environment for your groups, and be aware of its challenges and benefits

Intervention Skill

There are many benefits and challenges to using a team of facilitators to manage group process. 


One benefit is that you can share the facilitation workload, allowing the facilitator who isn't presenting at the time, the opportunity to more keenly observe group behaviors and individual responses to what's going on.

Another is the fact that two or three heads are usually better than one, particularly if your skills are complementary. If one of you gets stuck as to what's next, it's very likely that the other will have a good sense about what to do.

Having a partner or two while facilitating takes a lot of stress off of each facilitator, making it a lot easier to loosen up and be present. If this happens, your groups will tend to follow suit, loosening up and being more present themselves.

Multiple facilitators are particularly useful and, often necessary, if you are facilitating a large group. Further, if you incorporate small group exercises, individual facilitators can check in on the subgroups, helping them through any snags they encounter.

Team facilitation offers the opportunity to model effective communication and relating skills to your group--a key aspect of facilitation.

Multiple facilitators offer groups additional experience and wisdom, keeping the process more interesting for your participants. This is particularly true if you are in a training situation where you're doing a good deal of presenting. Multiple voices and perspectives keep things far more lively for participants.

Teaming with other facilitators offers each of you potential access to the others' network, and the offering of your "collective" skills to this network. This could create a situation where you secure more business together than you may be able to do on your own.


Working as part of a team takes more planning and coordination than might be required when working alone. Each facilitator needs to know what to expect from the others, their individual roles, and how the event is to proceed so that your individual work complements the work of the team.

Having more than one facilitator may create a tendency to "over intervene" if each facilitator is intent on making his or her presence experienced by the group.

Multiple facilitators inject an additional dynamic into normal group process, that is, the interaction between the facilitators in addition to their collective interaction with the group. If a problem arises between the facilitators, this can negatively impact the group process if it is not skillfully resolved.

Working as part of a facilitation team requires more psychic and creative energy than it does working alone. This energy is required to create and maintain a cooperative relationship and the continual pursuit of the appropriate balance between active and passive activity within each group. These efforts involve some degree of surrender of your individuality in pursuit of the most effective team.

Until facilitators have worked together for a sufficient period of time to get to know each others' approach, it's likely that you'll be faced with potential conflict around how to handle particular group situations. The likelihood of these disagreements can be minimized by discussing your individual approaches to common group situations in advance.


I gained some of my very best experience in facilitation by working with a team of facilitators in the delivery of a experimental and highly experiential workforce preparation program at our local Community College. 

It was one of the most frustrating and rewarding growth experiences I have ever had as a professional. Not only did we have the challenge of creating and facilitating a new program but we also were presented with the necessity of facing each of our individual issues that ultimately arose as we worked together. Some of the most valuable lessons I learned about team facilitation were:

Facilitating with others offers you a great opportunity to tame your ego. If you hold the intention to put the best interest of your group first, then you'll have to learn to be a seamless part of the facilitation team. In doing so, you will at times be in the limelight, and at times, no one will know you exist.

It's critical to "debrief" each session. Discuss what worked, what didn't, process your personal stuff, and commit to trying new and more effective actions in the future.

Plan, plan, and plan some more for your events. We pull off our best events when we clearly agree on each facilitator's role, and have a clear agenda with specific timeframes for each activity. That way, everyone knows their place and their role. Within this framework, there is still plenty of room to be flexible and dance with any changes that need to be made to better support the needs of the group.

Develop a common model, philosophy, and approach to managing group process. A common approach to facilitation can really help co-facilitators operate effectively as a team. Spend time up front discussing the ways you might handle common group situations so that you can develop an agreeable team facilitation approach.


If you are already part of a facilitation team, look at ways you can be a more effective co-facilitator. If you aren't, explore the advantages of teaming up with other facilitators in some of your future work. I’m interested in hearing your perspectives on this topic. Reply to this email and let me hear from you!


Facilitation25 Activities for Developing Team Leaders, by Fran Rees

This book is critical for any reader who wants to develop themselves or others as strong team leaders and high performing teams. Team leaders, human resource and training employees will find this resource invaluable in building a structured program, easy to execute and that gets results. External consultants will find the text to be helpful in structuring their project plans for clients."
--Leigh Wilkinson, HRD consultant, State of Maine Office of Training and Development.


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