Very early on we made the decision to co-facilitate our process improvement events and workshops (where at all possible). We sometimes get asked why we made this decision given the higher overhead – aren’t we all about efficiencies?
Of course as you’ll know from our blog, we focus on effectiveness first, efficiency second. A few years ago I attended some Change Management training that also included some facilitation good practice. The training was very much focused on one facilitator per group. I queried the co-facilitation approach and the trainer recognised that this was the crème de la crème of facilitation, but was rarely achievable.
Why do we aim to co-facilitate improvement activities:
· It allows us (the facilitators) to challenge each other.
· It allows us (the facilitators) to learn from each other.
· It allows us to ensure that in our joint opinion we are guiding the group to through the process in the most appropriate way.
· It ensures that one of us talks and one listens, which enables us to pick up on subtleties in the process, and to read the body language within the group.
· We can play ‘good cop, bad cop’, which has its place…
· Usually co-facilitation brings a greater breadth of skills that is beneficial to the activity.
· If one facilitator gets tired, there is immediate cover.
· It is easier to split the project team for group work activities.
· Post workshop evaluation, and subsequent improvement is based on more than one opinion.
Ground rules for co-facilitation
· Be clear who is the lead facilitator for a particular activity/ part of the workshop.
· Ensure that you are facilitating with someone who you respect professionally.
· Be prepared to be respectfully critical of each other.
· Have clear boundaries.
· Know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
· Challenge bias.
· Be supportive of each other.