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International Association of Facilitators
1999 Annual Meeting
Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
January 14-17, 1999
Thread #3: Teambuilding & Communication
Jennifer L. Wild, President
8301 Armetale Lane
Fairfax Station, VA 22039
Rebecca L. Shambaugh, President
8000 Towers Crescent Drive, Suite 1350
Vienna, VA 22182
Jean Isberg, President
Executive Coaching for Women, Inc.
10891 Georgetown Pike
Great Falls, VA 22066
Pamela Kaul, President
Association Strategies, Inc.
111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Many novice and experienced facilitators struggle with differentiating the methods of training, facilitating, coaching, and mentoring. These concepts can be confusing because, during any given session, a seasoned facilitator can move effortlessly from one method to another in what appears to be a seamless interaction. The article arranges the topics from most structured to least structured, beginning with training and ending with mentoring. The authors define each method, explain how it works, offer examples of when to use the method, and highlight it's distinguishing factors.
Training as a method of instruction, can be defined as to make or become accomplished by specialized instruction or practice. Training involves the transfer of learning from one individual, usually an expert, to other individuals or a group. When training is achieved, an individual has all the skills and knowledge needed to perform. Performance may include task-related activities (such as learning how to balance a budget), or process related activities (such as learning how to effectively operate as a team). Training, as a method of instruction, helps learners to:
Training is a particular form of education or teaching that encompasses the transfer of knowledge and the performance of skill at a later date. In the process of training the trainer has a variety of responsibilities. In addition to being skillful in communicating so that learners understand the meaning and intent of the experience, the trainer must be aware of the learners needs and sensitive to their issues. The trainer's roles may include presenter, demonstrator, guide, and administrator. Typically the trainer creates specific objectives to be accomplished within a given time period. The trainer manages the time given to ensure that by the end of the session (whether it be 15 minutes or 2 weeks) all objectives are met. The trainer manages the tasks and the processes. The trainer designs the session ahead of time to ensure that the outcome of the training is achieved. These components of the training design include:
There are many different styles of training delivery-- from the professor/lecturer style on one end of the spectrum--to the actor/clown style on the other. Trainers need to know:
Training can be used whenever knowledge about content or process needs to transfer from the expert trainer to the learning trainee. Training is usually best accomplished in a 25 to1 or less participant to trainer ratio to ensure the trainer has optimum interaction with participants and can assess the success of the knowledge transfer.
The distinguishing factors for training are:
People depend on groups to accomplish what individuals alone cannot; yet, groups do not always function in ways that lead to increased effectiveness and desirable outcomes. Facilitation is a method used to help groups develop processes that are effective in order to accomplish desired outcomes. Since facilitation is so broad based and varied according to "context" the authors will focus on one method of facilitation and compare and contrast it to the methods of training, coaching, and mentoring. The Institute for Cultural Affairs developed the facilitation method highlighted. The Institute developed a basic facilitation process that results in more effective communications. It is a process that can be used with individuals or groups. It is also a tool that enables people to initiate and take part in a productive dialogue while helping groups improve the way they identify and solve problems, make decisions, and deal with conflict. This process is referred to as the ORID (Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, and Decisional) method.
This method works by asking a series of questions that takes a group on a journey of consciousness. This method is useful for reflecting on experiences and trying to come to consensus on key decisions. Each discussion is tailor-made for best results and questions have to be relevant to the subject and the group. It is important to prepare questions in advance. Recommendations for the best kind of questions to use in a group discussion include the following guidelines:
The primary objective of this method is to direct the thinking of the group involved toward making a decision. The model is built upon by asking a specific sequence of questions that are relevant to the subject and the group. For example, the context of a process may be to "define the role of a facilitator." The following questions take participants on a four level journey of awareness:
Step I - Objective: To get the facts and focus attention.
Question: What do you see on this list of criteria as the most important attributes of an effective facilitator?
Step II - Reflective: To uncover someoneís emotions, feelings and gut level reaction to an issue.
Question: What excites you about being a facilitator and what concerns you about being a facilitator?
Step III - Interpretive: To determine layers of values, meaning, and purpose regarding an issue.
Question: After reviewing all of these different ways to facilitate, which ones do you think are important to being an effective facilitator?
Step IV - Decisional: To decide on the relationship and response to a topic and the discussion they have had together. To take some kind of action on a definitive short-term outcome.
Question: Now that we have reviewed these issues, which ones are you going to work on?
This method can be used to lead group discussions that result in clearly stated ideas and well thought out conclusions. The ORID Method of facilitation can become the basis for:
It takes some study and practice to become skilled at using this or any facilitation method. The success of this and any facilitation process is determined by the facilitatorís ability to demonstrate the following critical skills and behaviors:
The distinguishing factors for facilitation are:
Coaching can be defined as a personal and confidential learning process. Typically, it is designed to result in effective action, improved performance, and/or personal growth for the individual and improved business results for the organization. In contrast to other forms of organized learning, i.e., training, facilitating, and mentoring, coaching is highly personal in two ways. It is individualized, recognizing that no two people are alike and is based upon the theory that each person has a unique knowledge base and learning pace and styles; therefore, participants progress at their individual pace. In addition, coaching is the appropriate forum for personal feedback of both strengths and weaknesses.
Normally a coach will contract with an individual or an organization to become involved in that individual's improvement. The coach will clarify areas that need improvement and make sure that the individual understands and can accomplish the changes that it would take to move from a current state to a more advanced, improved state. During the coaching process, the coach affirms and endorses the participant and provides feedback on areas that are working well and those that still may need improvement. If a coach sees a participant slide back into old patterns, discussions are held about what needs to be done to sustain the desired behavior.
Coaching takes place for the purpose of creating a path for personal change. A clear understanding of the desired outcome of coaching is critical to the success of the process. Appropriate objectives of coaching can be categorized as follows:
What coaching involves specifically depends on the participant and the situation. The light speed of business today requires employees to perform critical tasks in key roles, very often without the benefit of experience or training. Sometimes, there are no models to follow. Coaching assists the individual in learning how to perform at the next level, just as an athletic coach can identify what needs to be done differently and guide a player through the changes. Coaching is the appropriate method to use when the individual is highly motivated to make meaningful change, the areas designated for improvement are within the coaches realm of expertise, and the individual or organization commits to the resources needed to see the endeavor from start to finish.
A mentor is a trusted counselor or teacher. Mentoring is the process of walking along side someone to learn from them. The term mentor describes a wide variety of relationship and behaviors. The mentor helps with technical skill, career development, and psychosocial functions. The mentor is usually senior to the mentee with respect to experience, rank, or influence within the organization. Mentoring as a term and practice is hardly new. Students of the classics may remember Telemachus, Odysseus' son in Homer's Odessy, who had a guardian and adviser named "mentor." Mentoring in organizations often takes place on an informal basis. More recently organizations have developed more formal mentoring relationships. While a number of organizations experimented with mentoring programs over the years, most notably in the 70's and 80's, they were primarily reserved for marginal and average performers as a tool for performance improvement. Due to the tumultuous events of the past decade, there has been an explosion of mentoring efforts in organizations of all sizes and industries. A survey conducted by Human Resource Executive last year found that the number of companies developing mentoring programs doubled between 1995 and 1996, a percentage growth of 17% to 36%. This renewed interest can be attributed to many factors, such as:
All of these, of course, are fueled by a highly competitive labor market, a major factor contributing to the growth of mentoring programs. Regardless of the motivation, a growing number of organizations are finding mentoring and the sharing of intellectual capital to be making a profound impact on the individual and the organization.
The mentoring relationship has many definitions and roles. A mentor can be described as a trusted counselor or guide, a teacher, coach or tutor, or simply as someone who takes a personal interest in your career and offers advice and guidance. Mentoring is predominately a one to one activity which begins with rapport, the French word meaning kinship. It requires active listening skills, openness, trust, commitment and emotional maturity. Once the foundation is in place, the relationship is nurtured by a mutual understanding of the goals and desired outcomes of the relationship. It is further guided by measurements, accountability, and results in learning and growth. In effective mentoring relationships both the mentor and protégé avoid dependency and learn to recognize when it is time to let go.
While mentoring programs were first created to manage a number of performance related problems, that is not a role for mentoring today. Performance issues are better managed through coaching. True mentor programs develop people by sharing knowledge that provides opportunities for networking, teambuilding, leadership development, and career mobility. Mentoring enhances communications skills, develops interpersonal skills and builds self-confidence.
The distinguishing factors for facilitation are:
As organizational life becomes more and more complex, it is important for facilitators to develop a menu of breakthrough strategies that can help build skill, solve problems, increase effective performance, and build winning teams. The areas of training, facilitation, coaching, and mentoring share unique qualities and yet are very different. As facilitators learn to move effortlessly between each method, knowing the differences between the four is crucial.
Jennifer Wild, President of Wild Consulting, is a nationally known behavior scientist specializing in learning organizations and systems thinking both in the U.S. and abroad.
Rebecca Shambaugh, President of Shambaugh Incorporated, is a nationally known organization development consultant whose expertise is executive development and leadership.
Jean Isberg, President of Executive Coaching for Women, Inc., is nationally known executive coach focusing on the issues of quality of work life and retention for executive women.
Pamela Kaul, President of Association Strategies, Inc., is a nationally known nonprofit consultant and expert in executive search and development.