3 Facilitation styles
Facilitating has a number of different styles. Let’s explore what they are and how, why and when to use different styles in different contexts.
Part of a facilitator’s role is to adapt to the needs of the group. Sometimes the facilitator will be expected to direct the group’s discussions or activities; sometimes they will cooperate with the group, and at other times the facilitator may have to make suggestions to the group.
Groups vary in their ‘maturity’ – i.e. in the way they behave, not just the length of time they have been working together.
The styles of facilitation required in each of the three situations can be simplified as shown in Table 1.
|Facilitator style||Group’s maturity|
Facilitator directs methods used within the group
Newly formed or one-off group
Facilitator works with the group to decide choice of methods and when to provide assistance
Group formed for some time but still not performing to full potential
Facilitator respects autonomy of group and gives them freedom to find their own way
Self directing and generally working effectively together
To test your understanding of the different facilitation styles, complete the following activity
Look at the stage of group maturity and decide which style of facilitation would be most appropriate. Type your responses in the boxes before looking at the answers.
1. You have been asked by another department to facilitate a focus group. The participants will be customers of the department, many of whom have not met previously. The discussions are to last for one hour.
2. You work as a facilitator for a group of customer services staff. Much of the team’s work is self-directed and the team work well together.
3. You have been asked to attend a management meeting as a facilitator. The group of managers know each other well and have been working together for some time. However, their director feels there is conflict in the group and has asked you to facilitate this meeting.