Read This Before You Hire a Facilitator

Whether you are planning annual management meetings, creating new value propositions, or striking a venture with a new client, a facilitator can be a sound investment.

Here we unveil how to tell if you want a facilitator who will help you accomplish your collaboration goals.

In the world of workshops and meetings, a facilitator is can be a costly one at that. You can certainly complete a successful workshop - even a complicated one - without a facilitator’s help.

You typically can, that is, if you have someone with skills for handling group conflicts, if you have a clear idea what you want, and if you can produce objective plans that satisfy the criteria of your stakeholders. In all these situations, you could get by without a facilitator. But then there is another question you might ask, ‘Do I really want to?’

What sets strategic facilitators apart from other people who facilitate workshops are three features: we know how to get the best out of people and space by creating structure and flow for group work (Process), we know what you're talking about and use conversant knowledge to move the group further along in their task (Content), and we remain impartial (Objective). You can read more about these features in this post about How to Find the Right Facilitator.

When You May Want a Facilitator

Here’s how to tell if you want a facilitator—or at least, an experienced strategic facilitator.

  1. You have a problem with your project and have no idea how to solve it. Maybe you don’t have a process in place and need an expert to architect the meeting for you. Or maybe there are too many risks: conflicting personalities, agendas, information, that threaten to derail your project delivery.

  2. Your resources are squeezed, and can’t find someone in-house to run a workshop. Before engaging with your project, a good facilitator will ensure you are making the most of all your resources. If workshop participants in your organisation are at maximum capacity, having a facilitator configure the workshop process can help free up time and headspace for them to focus on the task. If there is someone underutilised in the company, it may double up as a learning experience to work alongside a facilitator so you are making the most of wider resources.

  3. You are uncomfortable making workshop choices on your own. A workshop series is an intensive, costly process that requires you to make a lot of decisions on things you may have little knowledge about. This is especially the case for virtual collaborations. A good facilitator serves as an intermediary and adviser who can help guide your project toward the best results.

  4. Your project requires one. In most projects, a facilitator isn’t required. But in others - specifically where an external client is involved - you may need a facilitator to maintain objectivity in the workshop. Check with your organisation to be sure.

  5. You are altering a unique or traditional way of working, changing styles, or building on a complicated set up. Maybe you want to keep up with your competitors, or introduce new ideas to your organisation and want some help from a facilitator to engage and bring people experiencing this change along in this project. When and where people engagement is critical, hire a facilitator.

  6. You’re on a budget. This may seem counterintuitive, since hiring a facilitator means one more professional you’ll need to pay. But a good facilitator can save you money. One way is through value design - that is, devising a way to get you a milestone you want at lower cost. A facilitator might suggest a process that economises on time, and a time-compressed design to get the same effect. They can also steer you away from making mistakes, whether in costly group conflicts or informational gaps, that you may regret later and ends up costing you more money.

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions and decide that hiring a facilitator is the choice approach, head on to our post about How to Find the Right Facilitator.

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