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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0005 | June 12, 2001
2,500 subscribers



Group Awareness and Management (GAME) Skill

Build and Maintain a Process Vessel 
Facilitate the development of ground rules and enforce them.



The Point?

Very early in your work with a group, it's important to establish ground rules that will maintain the integrity of a group process. These rules establish the boundaries within which the group will operate, and their respectful enforcement inspires a discipline of integrity among its members. 

Most groups function with a standard set of ground rules. But it's important to spend the necessary time to come to consensus on the specific rules for each individual group, as each group may have individual interests, needs, or concerns that modify or expand what's considered typical. 

Before you begin a group process, make sure all members have bought-in to these rules. To do this, get a verbal acknowledgement from each of them and read body language to check for hesitance or an uncertain commitment. Resolve barriers to full consensus before moving forward. 




Common ground rules include: no side-talking, showing up and returning from breaks on time, completing all assignments, maintaining confidentiality of all that's shared among the group, and to share what is true for you in the present moment. 

If your ground rules are to have any value, then you must enforce them. By enforce, I don't mean that you beat up, punish, or embarrass people that break them. When someone breaks a ground rule, it's only necessary that you simply make them aware of it. 

For example, "Joe, I notice that there's a lot of side-talking going on around you. Would you be willing to recommit to the rule of no side-talking?" Or, "Team, I notice that several of you are coming back from the breaks late. Is this a ground rule that you're still committed to or should we discuss changing it?" 

At times you may need to remind the group that group results are their responsibility and that the ground rules are intended to support their efforts to get the results they want.




The next time you facilitate a group, work with the participants to come up with several ground rules and facilitate their commitment to follow them. Let me know how enforcing them works out for you. I'm interested in hearing what happened. Please email me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue.



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Skill-Related Resource
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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 following question at on our interactive forum to stimulate discussion on this topic.

1. What is the biggest mistake you ever made in facilitating a group?

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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 June 19, 2001. 

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