What does a training facilitator do?
A training facilitator creates a climate for learning and development and manages the process of helping people learn through discovery. They utilize adult-learning principles to achieve the desired outcomes and goals of the training. An effective facilitator is able to establish an environment of inclusion, where learners can safely participate, share ideas, and develop knowledge or skills. Facilitators present content, lead discussions, and help learners identify how to apply knowledge, skills, and/or tools that can be sustained over time. Often, facilitators are subject-matter experts, but having expert knowledge of a topic isn’t required to be a highly effective facilitator.
What are the roles of a facilitator?
There are seven primary roles of a facilitator. However, roles can vary based on a particular training environment, training topics, audience needs, etc.
- Coordinator: Plan and prepare for the learning experience, create a positive learning environment, arrange logistics, provide training resources and tools, and manage time.
- Motivator: Help participants see how the subject and content is relevant, meaningful, and integral to their success so they are motivated to participate, learn, apply, and sustain the training. Reinforce and recognize effort, progress, and results.
- Presenter: Present content and information in a clear, compelling, and concise way.
- Guide: Lead people through learning tasks, skills practice, discussions, and introspection opportunities.
- Connector: Make connections between the content or skills and the situation in which they will use or apply the training.
- Questioner: Pose thoughtful and relevant questions to challenge participant thinking and spark group discussion. Carefully listen to participant responses, ideas, and perspectives.
- Coach: Reinforce and recognize effort, progress, and results and provide constructive feedback on strengths and opportunities for improvement.
What skills do you need to be a facilitator?
Successful facilitation is made up of many specific skills and competencies. Facilitators who want or need to develop their skills further can think about and practice each competency on its own or several at once. Some of the most important skills and competencies include the following:
- Creates a positive and inclusive learning environment
- Establishes ground rules and learning expectations
- Clarifies the training purpose, process, and payoff
- Establishes rapport and trust with learners
- Uses adult-learning principles and a variety of training methodologies
- Presents information in an articulate way
- Connects and links skills
- Actively listens to questions and responds to them appropriately
- Facilitates and debriefs exercises, learning activities, skill-practice sessions, etc.
- Provides support and feedback to learners
- Ensures active participation from all learners
- Manages difficult participants effectively
- Facilitates self-discovery
What is expected from a facilitator?
When people attend a training session or program, they expect that the facilitator will have the qualities and abilities needed to make the experience worthwhile and value-added. People want facilitators who will use the training time wisely, establish relevance, and make the content understandable. People expect a facilitator to have strong self-awareness and the ability to build respectful relationships. Often, people presume that a facilitator will help them apply what they are learning and identify sustainability strategies. A facilitator who uses a variety of training methodologies and adapts to various learning styles is important to the adult learner.
What is the difference between an instructor and a facilitator?
Typically, an instructor is an expert on a particular subject or topic who has in-depth knowledge to share with the person or people they are instructing. Instructors drive the content and share specific information. Instructors answer questions based on their knowledge and experience.
In contrast, a facilitator is skilled in adult-learning theory and uses adult-learning methodology to help the participants drive the learning experience, with their support. They provide information and opportunities to reflect, discover, discuss, and apply. A facilitator engages participants, listens, and asks questions.
Is a facilitator a leader?
Some facilitators are leaders in the sense that they plan and lead formal training, learning experiences, problem-solving or planning sessions, workshops, programs, etc. But both formal and informal leaders can and should develop facilitation skills in order to more effectively present information, collaborate with their team, create synergy and inclusion, and manage effective meetings.
How do you practice facilitation skills?
In a well-designed facilitation-training program, such as CMOE’s Facilitation Skills for Trainers, participants are able to practice skills and receive immediate feedback on their facilitation abilities. The training should be tailored to the specific needs and skill level of the participant-facilitators and provide tools and techniques that will maximize their effectiveness. The facilitation skill-development opportunity should focus on the facilitator competencies that are most relevant to the participants’ work and the organization’s culture.
Facilitators can engage in self-development to practice and enhance their skills as well. To do so, they should identify one or two competencies or skills that they would like to improve on and focus their attention in these areas. They should also engage in as many facilitation opportunities as possible, seek feedback from participants or a trusted mentor, and self-reflect on how they applied the targeted facilitation skill, what worked or didn’t work, and how they might approach it differently next time.
Leaders who are interested in developing their ability to facilitate the work of their team can increase their competency in this area by participating in training specifically designed to address this need, such as CMOE’s Leading Groups to Solutions workshop.