Leading Groups to Solutions: Facilitation Skills for Team Leaders

Leading Groups to Solutions: Facilitation Skills for Team Leaders

Leaders and team members are regularly called on to lead groups to solutions, direct the efforts of others, or harness the collective energy of the teams they lead. Facilitating groups effectively requires insight and the development of a unique set of skills—but despite the importance of these abilities, many managers and team leaders may not have had the opportunity to develop them in a formalized way.

CMOE’s Leading Groups to Solutions workshop is an in-depth and interactive experience that helps all types of managers and team leaders define group objectives and gain team consensus as they work through the problem-solving process, evaluate the issues, channel the team’s energy and collaborative thinking, and deliver business results while building lasting relationships. These skills are applicable for leaders who are in a position to provide vision, guidance, and resources, or when the situation they’re in simply gives them the opportunity to use their influence as an individual contributor to help a team succeed.

Leading Groups to Solutions goes beyond the tools and techniques that are traditionally used to facilitate group communication and manage meetings. Our focus is not on presentation skills, group instruction, or public speaking. Instead, we use innovative adult-learning techniques to help leaders and team members develop the facilitation skills needed to unify their strengths and develop collaborative, creative solutions for the business. The program is designed for anyone involved in helping two or more individuals solve problems, make decisions, and bring out the best in groups.

Objectives & Outcomes

Participants in CMOE’s facilitation-skills workshop, Leading Groups to Solutions, develop a variety of skills that can be used not only to facilitate group decision-making, but to improve team and organizational communication overall. As a result of their training in facilitation skills, participants are able to

  • Recognize how facilitating group discussions differs from making presentations.
  • Improve group communication and maximize the contributions of team members.
  • Manage and provide greater structure and increased effectiveness to all team sessions.
  • Analyze, diagnose, and expose the root cause of a problem.
  • Prevent others from speculating, making assumptions, and jumping to premature conclusions.
  • Take a collaborative approach to solving problems.
  • Think through and identify innovative alternatives.
  • Compare the relative worth of the options available and determine which solutions are best.
  • Consider risks and threats to making a successful choice.
  • Provide direction and confidently move forward with the solution determined to be best.
  • Build trusting and collaborative relationships with others.

Our Approach

Leading Groups to Solutions is a powerful and application-oriented learning experience: 30% of the time in the workshop is spent on the “what” and “why” of facilitation and 70% is spent on facilitation “how to’s” using real organizational issues. Participants also have a chance to assess their baseline facilitation skills so they can identify their strengths and opportunities for development. This unique learning approach allows participants to develop facilitation skills and practice using them with real scenarios that the business is facing.

One of the most-important outcomes of this approach is that the workshop raises a leader’s awareness that the ability to facilitate the work of a team or group is a critical leadership capability—and one that is often overlooked or underdeveloped. Exposing participants to the need for this skill re-frames the mindset and underscores the importance of effectively facilitating the work of teams and groups. Once their awareness has been raised, participants are positioned to develop the skills and apply the concepts and tools to their teams.

“An effective facilitator serves and reflects the ‘will of the group’ and doesn't over-control choices and procedures. A facilitator helps a group explore issues and sensitive topics that individual members may avoid or pass over.”

~ Leading Groups to Solutions: A Practical Guide for Facilitators and Team Members

“Enthusiasm…spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.”

– Norman Vincent Peale

“Action is the heart of successful business groups. Action plans convert discussion and decisions into hard-core results.”

~ Leading Groups to Solutions: A Practical Guide for Facilitators and Team Members

Our Clients' Experiences: Client 1

A shipping manager who attended a facilitation-skills session (the Leading Groups to Solutions workshop), had his employees fill out a survey to help identify why they were experiencing a high rate of box damage and discarded product. He asked his fellow managers, including another participant in the Leading Groups to Solutions class, to plan a meeting and review the survey answers. Together they planned an agenda for the meeting:

  1. Prioritize causes.
  2. Complete a process model showing the problem areas.
  3. Develop an action plan based on the survey findings.

The managers discovered that the silent group members (the thinkers) often had the best ideas. Effective facilitators can draw out the ideas of those individuals. The team developed action plans to address the causes of damaged boxes and discarded product. Because of the survey, meetings, and action taken after the fact, the cost of damage was significantly reduced from $3,000/week to $1,100/week in less than 30 days.

Our Clients' Experiences: Client 2

An Executive Vice President chose to have CMOE spend one day of a week-long team meeting focusing on improving the team’s facilitation skills. During this session, the team reported that this day was the most effective and important day of the entire week. The team cited the importance of this topic and said that as a result of this training, they were able to engage in more-meaningful discussions and make collaborative decisions about important team issues and strategies. The team also appreciated the feedback element of the workshop, indicating how important it was for all team members to improve their interactions and dialogue with one another. To this day, this team still reports that the successful execution of projects and assignments on this team has increased due to the greater team alignment and agreement that resulted from their facilitation-skills training.

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