As a facilitator, you don’t need to be an expert or even fully understand the subject being discussed.
Yes, that’s true. Facilitating is an enabling role. It’s a role within a group, that helps others get the most out of themselves; their skills; knowledge; and abilities. Facilitators do not therefore contribute directly to the content of the discussion nor decisions made.
From personal experience, not fully understanding the subject can be scary. But on occasions, this has actually helped me do my job, by forcing me to focus on the group processes, rather than the content of the discussion.
To add to the challenge, the facilitators’ role should be carried out as unobtrusively as possible. Why? Because anything facilitators do which shifts the focus away from the discussion takes time and effort that could be spent on the discussion. Every time facilitators intervene they take a risk, will it help or hinder the group?
The personal challenge?
“But I want to contribute ideas to help the group come to a decision.”
“But I want to use my knowledge to help the group find a solution.”
“It’s not very satisfying that any contribution I make should go unnoticed.”
“What value am I adding if I don’t intervene very often?”
So where can facilitator’s satisfaction come from? The answer has to be mainly from within, believing that you have added value, from the personal satisfaction of seeing others’ succeed, and maybe occasionally some recognition sometime in the future.
Perhaps therefore the biggest personal challenge for facilitators is accepting that the more successful you are the less likely it is that others’ will recognise and value your contribution?
(I’ll mention more of the ‘helps’ in future blogs.)