Why don’t your regular quarterly all-staff meetings, your special project meetings or your public outreach meetings go better? Why do people feel unheard, unsatisfied – maybe even ignored? As a supervisor, manager or business owner, why are your new ideas and directives not getting through to employees? Why aren’t your meetings during which you share ideas with your employees improving morale?
ONE ANSWER: The meetings and the people attending them lose their way because no one is facilitating them. A meeting facilitator is not a chairman (like you), not the boss and not a policy-maker. All of these roles can be intimidating to employees – no matter how excellent the relationship between boss and employee. A facilitator has no power over the employees (the power to reward or to sanction) – a facilitator only has the power (granted by the person hiring him/her) to make sure that people feel comfortable with the meeting environment, all of the items on the agenda are covered in the time allotted for the meeting, and everyone in the meeting can feel valued and heard.
As a Group Facilitator, I can work with a manager to construct a timed agenda that covers all of the important topics to be covered. During the meeting, I can work to make sure that everyone is heard and no one dominates the entire discussion. This includes the manager who is then one of the group, contributing equally (but not in a domineering or intimidating fashion) to the ideas developed in a cooperative fashion. This builds group identity and employee morale, while advancing the goals of your organization.
A Group Facilitator takes the pressure off of management and staff to manage the meeting. Once you and the Group Facilitator have developed the agenda for the meeting, like your employees, all you need to do is attend and let your voice, and theirs, be heard. Meetings take time away from other productive activities, no matter how crucial they may be. Investing in the services of a Group Facilitator gives you more “bang for the buck” for all of those meetings you either can’t avoid or simply must convene.
If the meeting involves the general public (e.g., a public informational meeting about a proposed project), it is even more crucial to have a Group Facilitator manage it. Your in-house business meetings involve a group of people (you and your employees) who share a general vision, differing only on the details of how to accomplish it. The general public may not share your vision, or may be actively opposed to it. A Group Facilitator can counsel you on the best way to plan and conduct a public meeting and then conduct even the most contentious meeting in a way that serves everyone’s interests.
In summary, for management of an important meeting, turn to a professional, the Group Facilitator, just like you would turn toward an appropriate professional to help you accomplish any other vital business activity.