Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Group Facilitation Tip - Co-Facilitation

Group Facilitation Tip - Co-Facilitation
Copyright 2007 - Jennifer Britton

This week's group facilitation tip is on co-facilitation. A major theme for me this year is around collaboration, and a number of really significant opportunities have presented themselves in the last few months. In my mind, co-faciltiation enhances the possibilities and outcomes of group programs, ensuring that in my work and others that the "sum is greater than it's parts".

For many years I was involved in co-facilitation when I ran retreat programs for organizations. It was often quite common to have 250 or more staff in the room, and we needed 2 or 3 facilitators. After several years of often running programs on my own, I'm back to the world of co-faciliation and I am loving it. As a relationship systems coach most of our large group work is done through co-facilitation when working with teams.

I often get asked " What are some tips for co-faciltiation?" I would love to have a magic bullet, but unfortunately I don't. I have seen, and experienced when co-facilitation has gone well, and also when things have run amok, leaving a sour taste for everyone involved.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when designing your next co-facilitation:

1. What are your strengths? Your passions? Your weaknesses? Creating the opportunity for each person to leverage their strengths and passions leads to more fun, creativity and presence. What are you good at? What do you like to do?

2. How are you complimentary? Many successful partnerships and the business world are based on complimentary skills -- how do you each compliment each other? I have seen excellent facilitators come together to co-facilitate, and the program has fallen flat, in part due to the similar nature of each one. If you are working with someone who is very much like yourself, what do you need to be aware of? How can you bring in the complimentary skills you need?

3. Clearly define your roles. Masterful co-facilitation is like a dance. Who is taking the lead? Things get murky when roles are not clear. I spend a lot of time up front with my co-facilitator, even before the start of a program, designing what our roles are going to be. Who will take a lead on this part of the program? Who is going to be responsibile for that? Spending time to build this foundation allows us to look at where do we synergize, and who takes the lead at different stages.

4. What are your expectations for the program and your partnership? Spend time before the program discussing your expectations for the program and your partnerhip. A disconnect between each parties expectations can lead to conflict and that sour taste in your mouth.

Ask each other "What are your hopes, fears and fantasies for the program and the partnership?".

I would love to hear about your experience with co-facilitation - the highs and the lows. What made it work really well? What stopped it in its tracks? Please feel free to comment below.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, CPCC, CHRP, CPT
Potentials Realized ~ Group Coaching Essentials
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960

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