Saturday, 5 May 2018

Reflections as a Facilitator...


As an HR Practitioner and driving Change and transformation in organisations what amuses me is the way it is much abused science. What intrigues me is the way its given importance like some sort of communication templates and made the practice into a checklist of activities, the completion of which signifies a successful change intervention.

The real success of any intervention is achieved by winning over the support of employees who are driven by personal agendas, purpose and alignment that drives them to specific behaviors and political scheming that derails the most conceptually well laid plans.

Often as a facilitator I have encountered couple of challenges and situations that required me to delve deeper into the repository of facilitation skills.

Since, there is very little literature that I have found that provides insights into this tacit knowledge I am sharing my insights from my course of experiences in managing and facilitating change and organisation transformation.

Here it goes….

·     The challenge for me has been the application of the facilitation methods and tools in organisations that often do not follow the prescribed path of a planned transformation due to its unique culture and characteristics. Therefore, I have found that there is no one prescribed way of ensuring the success of interventions. Facilitation is as much an art as it is a science.

·  Employees resist change due to their perceptions and apprehensions regarding the proposed change. It requires a planned engagement beyond communication where employees need space to articulate their apprehensions and have them addressed by a competent internal team which has to be facilitated well.

·    Any intervention is therefore not an activity but a process of facilitating and aligning employees with the desired change in the organisation.

·       When participants are asked to first write down and then to find a partner to share those points they become better. Its because it becomes part of conversations with other people, instead of having it bottled up inside. When the participants start sharing you can experience a new energy generating within the group leading to greater bonding.

·    The energy, if left unharnessed, would soon dissipate. And aspiration, if left uncontrolled, would lead to team members moving in a misaligned manner that would be counterproductive to the process / session.

·   When people start sharing the opinions in a group without a structure, individual agendas and egos create an unhealthy cocktail of discussions, which mostly result in unproductive outcomes. These outcomes then get attributed to the facilitator.

·       Any limiting beliefs or assumptions of team members that were creating a barrier to achieving better results can be termed as “Theories in use”. As a facilitator, be aware of these during your pre work and diagnosis and also provoke the team to get them talking about these.

·  When you are instructing or asking any questions be sure that the members understood it clearly. An unclear purpose will result in unclear outcomes.

·      When the group doesn’t converge and has differing agendas, you may find the team would engage in behaviours that may disrupt the planned session. As a facilitator you need to ensure that the responsibility for success of the session rested on the team and not on the facilitator. Awareness and free choice were the necessary ingredients that impacted accountability. Individuals when left to articulate the behaviour that they would follow instead of being told how they were expected to behave would be encouraged to take ownership of their conduct. Hence, always have this end in mind and create the ways of working at the beginning of the session.

·    For facilitation to be successful, the facilitation process needs to evolve organically, since human dynamics make it difficult to predict all the complexities that could emerge during the intervention. Hence, you need to look deep into the culture of the organisation and have the willingness to adapt and refine processes as it is being implemented.

·  The need must be championed and supported from the top. The sponsorship and active support from the top in the initial phase acts as seeding for the next step.

·     Diagnosis of the current reality and clarity about the desired outcome is the most important stage to get in agreement with the sponsor.

·     If its an internal facilitator then it would only work when the employees were convinced about the credibility and expertise of the facilitator leading the initiative.

·      The business outcomes from the session would get the engagement and support of the business leaders.

·   The KPIs that are in the organisation have to be aligned. Conflicting organisation structures and metrics would impact the outcome negatively.

·      The teams if they are empowered and given freedom for the action plans it creates an energy and alignment for delivering outstanding results.

I hope the sharing of insights will augment the cumulative repository of practical knowledge in the global domain of Facilitation and will drive towards many positive success stories.