Kristin J. Arnold

Article Summary:

Facilitators discussing where and how they improve their faciltation skills.

Facilitator Training

This article shares many strategies that seasoned practitioners use to intentionally build their facilitation expertise. The strategies are based on the answers to an electronic survey sent in October 2003 to practicing facilitators from three communities of practice:
1) those who earned the Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) designation from the International Association of Facilitators (IAF);
2) those who participate in the Professional Experts Group on Facilitation through the National Speakers Association (NSA)
3) those who participate in the IAF-sponsored electronic discussion group.

On average, seasoned facilitators attend some sort of formal training, course or workshop once a year. Typically, they attend formal training more frequently in the early stages of their practice and formal training tends to taper off as they became more experienced and comfortable in their role. After a while, they attend only those sessions that are of specific interest, geographically desirable or complement their existing skills, often including different disciplines.

One facilitator said, "I take on workshops I have never done before. I try not to use the same old approaches every time (although, trouble is, they usually work!) ...and I transfer skills from other disciplines e.g. clinical psychology, family and group systems, conflict resolution."

Many facilitators prefer "hands-on, interactive seminars that present new methods and techniques and provide useful materials." When attending training, they come prepared to engage the instructor as well as participants and may have very specific learning objectives that may (or may not) be published in the course brochure. They don't leave until their personal objectives are fulfilled.

Also, many have established a practice to reinforce the learning. For example, one facilitator writes a "mini retrospective after each workshop. I note the key learning points for myself and put it in my Palm [to review later]." Another said, "I try to find ways of using them in events that I facilitate as soon after as possible."

On average, seasoned facilitators attend some sort of formal training, course or workshop once a year. Typically, they attend formal training more frequently in the early stages of their practice and formal training tends to taper off as they became more experienced and comfortable in their role.

Classroom Training Providers
Realizing that all of the lists provided here are just a matter of opinion and not a recommendation from this author or the Publisher, the survey respondents indicated the following organizations offer "the best training/seminars" in facilitation:

  • ICA (www.ica-associates.ca),
  • Interaction Associates (www.interactionassociates.com),
  • Community at Work (www.communityatwork.com),
  • The Grove Consultants International (www.grove.com),
  • Roger Schwarz and Associates, Inc. (www.schwarzassociates.com),
  • Goal/QPC (www.goalqpc.com),
  • The Community Store (www.thecommunitystore.com),
  • H.H. Owen and Company (www.openspaceworld.com),
  • Participative Dynamics (www.participative-dynamics.com).

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from a full report which can be accessed on the author's website.

Kristin J. Arnold, CMC, CPF, CSP helps corporations, government and non-profit organizations achieve extraordinary results. With years of team-building and facilitation experience, Kristin specializes in coaching executives and their leadership, management and employee teams, particularly in the areas of strategic, business and project planning, process improvement, decision-making, and collaborative problem-solving. For more information visit www.extraordinary team.com.

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