While the primary focus of facilitation is on process, selecting
a facilitator who understands the jargon and technical scope of
a particular project can be invaluable to keeping things
moving and to determine the relative importance or triviality
of what's being discussed.
Questions useful to determine appropriateness of experience: What is your general experience as a facilitator? What is your
experience with issues or situations like this? With
participants like ours? How long did those processes take? What
kinds of results were achieved? If you do not
have specific knowledge, do you think it will hinder your
effectiveness? If so, how would you propose to address this?
Since neutrality is a key to
effective facilitation, the "right" facilitator for
the job should not only be skilled in facilitation techniques,
but also be free of any vested interest in the topic being
discussed that might impact the process.
Questions useful to determine process approach: Do you specialize in one approach? Describe what
kind of process you usually use in these circumstances. What
are some things that would not work here? Why? Do you
generally conduct assessments before conducting a
facilitation? If so, describe the assessment process.
Questions useful to clarify roles. What role will you play and
what impact do you want to have on the outcome? Do you think
we have the necessary groups involved? If not, what do you
suggest we do to involve others?
How can the parties get
in touch with you? What kind of staff will be assisting you?
What is your availability? Will you handle logistical
arrangements for meetings? What kind of help from our staff
will you need?
Costs. How do you charge for your
services? How would you estimate the costs for this project?
How could costs be kept to a minimum?
A good facilitator will exhibit strength combined with
flexibility, whereby they're able to take a stand on their
observations and be willing to adjust their thinking to create
They should be focused on process and product to the extent that
a group works effectively, stays healthy, while getting the job
They should be able to
communicate unwelcome news clearly and concisely,
confronting inappropriate behavior gracefully.
They should have
interest in helping people grow and develop by achieving good
results for themselves and the organization.
Ask questions like this of yourself to determine your comfort
level with this facilitator: How did they interact or, how do you
think they will interact, with the different constituencies
that are going to be part of the process? Will they be able to
gain the confidence and trust of the participants? What kind of
listeners are they? Did they ask good questions? Did they seem
able to grasp the situation? Will their style be compatible with yours
and others in the group? How neutral do you think they will
remain on the issues? Do you think they will be good at
encouraging participants to come up with their own solutions?
What kind of personality did they project? Did they have a
sense of humor? Did they seem patient? Flexible? Were they
Change Consultancy" provides excellent summaries
and distinctions between "Core" and
"Supplementary" skills and knowledge. This division allows
organizations to rate facilitators in essential competencies that might help
them to make the best selection of a facilitator for a particular
Core skills and knowledge
Supplementary, specialized knowledge
- team building
- one-on-one coaching
- organizational development
- survey and interview techniques
- statistical process control, quality function deployment,