The most challenging work, and one that requires the highest degree of facilitator knowledge and skill, is process facilitation. While there may be a high level agenda for timing purposes the real content is what the group generates in the moment. The primary role of the facilitator is to observe the interactions of the participants and draw awareness to their behaviors and the impact on the group. Conversations are deep, honest and typically address issues that have been denied or ignored by the group for some time.
As you might imagine, such dialogues can be intense experiences and may generate strong emotions. It is incumbent upon the facilitator to bring to the experience a deep understanding of interpersonal and group dynamics, highly developed observational skills, a high degree of emotional intelligence and self-awareness, well-developed agility, and the courage and self-confidence to say what others will not.
It is also necessary that the group members be open to the perspectives of others, mature in their ability to relate to others, compassionate and willing to address issues of importance to the team.
Pure process facilitation does not often happen in the workplace. Our most relevant experience is a weekend intervention with the three senior partners of a law firm. It was an opportunity for them to resolve issues that had been lingering between the partners for a number of years, and they were both ready and able to engage in the dialogue.
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