Facilitation Skills for Reliability Engineers
We facilitate. As reliability professionals, we often lead teams to identify risk. We help cross-functional teams find and implement solutions. We bring people together and ease their ability to communicate clearly with each other.
Whether a leader or participant we have a role to achieve the desired goals. Our ability to facilitate enables us to work with others to get things done. Understanding how to facilitate well permits us to add value when leading or participating on a team.
Preparation for the Facilitation Role
This is part planning the meeting and part preparing yourself for the tasks ahead. Understanding the objective of the meeting or session allows you to craft an agenda along with specific activities that focus on meeting the objectives.
The role of a facilitator is to make the group’s achievement of the objectives ‘easy’ or ‘smooth’. This done by first setting aside any of your own objectives or opinions that may interfere with the group’s discussion, discover and achievements. If you are unable to be a neutral party on the topic, step aside and find a suitable facilitator.
Basic Guidelines to Follow as a Facilitator
- Stay neutral and in service of the group and their objective.
- Guide the meeting, don’t control it.
- Foster participate from all participants.
- Foster discussion with open-ended questions.
- Encourage understanding and consensus.
- Discourage disruptive or demeaning behavior
- Establish ground rules concerning behavior expectations.
- Establish and maintain a high energy level.
- Use brainstorming, multi-voting and other tools when they add value.
- Keep notes and keep them visible.
- Record the participant’s words, not your interpretation.
- Review conclusions and action items.
- Assist the group to smoothly move through the agenda.
Individuals, Groups, and Facilitation
When preparing for an important meeting a facilitator may meet with each invited person prior to the group’s meeting. The discussion may involve any preparation or reading the individual should accomplish, plus any of their suggestions, ideas, concerns, etc.
You can, and often should get to know the participants before the meeting.
Once the group on individual assemble you will notice another entity has joined the session. The group. The group, as a composite of the individuals, will behave separately from what you may expect from any of the individuals. The group’s experiences, responses, and behavior is an element of your facilitation that you need to monitor and accommodate.
By working to create a safe environment where ideas and concepts in service of the objectives flourish, the group will do it’s best work. A great facilitator recognizes they can not control the group, yet can establish an environment where the group is best able to accomplishitss goals.
Remember you are facilitating the group by respecting individuals to achieve the objectives.
Learn more about Facilitation
The Seven Separators of Great Facilitation http://www.inifac.org/articles/ARSEPAR.pdf
The Secrets of Facilitation by Michael Wilkinson
The Role of a Facilitator, https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/RoleofAFacilitator.htm
Also published on Medium.