Planning a strategy day? Want to bring your team together? Want to create a marketing plan, explore process improvements, or discuss any other issues facing your business, or just want a day out to help everyone work better as a team?
An experienced business workshop facilitator can bring valuable skills and expertise that will boost results from the day. But how can you make sure you do get real value from involving a facilitator? And how do you decide who to work with in the first place?
Here are our top tips.
1. Choose Well, Establish a Dialogue
When choosing someone to run your business workshop, think carefully about how they handle your initial enquiry. Are they enthusiastic about your business? Do they ask questions that stimulate dialogue? Do they listen, and allow you to talk? You will want to see all these points in action during the workshop, so don’t choose a facilitator who doesn’t demonstrate the right approach beforehand.
2. Test the Relationship
Similarly, when choosing your facilitator, think about how the person is making you feel during that initial enquiry. Do you feel comfortable talking to them? Do you feel confident they can help your business make progress? If the answer is yes, then the chances are your team will feel the same on the day and will respond well, so you see a real business benefit from the session. If the answer is no, it’s probably not worth pursuing the enquiry.
3. Consider What Experience is Relevant
Before you make any decisions about who to work with as a facilitator, consider what type of experience will add most value to the day. Someone with experience in your particular industry isn’t necessarily the best person to run a workshop. A facilitator for a strategy workshop, for example, does not need a detailed knowledge of your everyday operations. What they do need is experience in business growth, an understanding of strategic concepts, and the skill to ask questions that encourage new ways of thinking about and analysing situations.
4. Set Clear Goals
Decide what you want to get out of the day. Do you want a top-level strategy, an action plan, or simply clarity on a current situation? Without clear objectives, a business workshop risks being no more than a talking shop that doesn’t help you move forward. Discuss this with the facilitator so you can plan a session that gets you the result you want.
5. Remember Preparation is Key
Be prepared to spend some time together briefing your facilitator well before the date of the workshop. No matter how experienced,the more information the facilitator has about your business and the challenges you face, the better the job will be done on the day.
6. Think About Team Dynamics
Is the team a stable group who works together well, or does there tend to be friction? Are there any newcomers? Who might try to dominate discussions? Who is likely to hold back from giving their input? It’s well worthwhile giving the facilitator some idea of what to expect, to help them get the group working together effectively as quickly as possible once the session starts.
No matter how many great ideas you generate, they will quickly be forgotten unless there is a clearly-defined follow-up. Every business workshop should finish with a set of actions, each having a defined owner and a date for completion. It is important to review progress regularly. Often, a follow-up workshop with the facilitator is the best way to make sure this happens and to provide impetus for the next steps. This also gives the opportunity for people to reflect on the discussions and try out ideas, so they can return to the table bringing useful thoughts and information to guide decision-making.
Remember, in the end the facilitator is there to help you and your team come together to address the opportunities and challenges you face. A good facilitator will put as much if not more effort into preparation and follow up as they will do on the day. The best away days are an opportunity for teams to explore real challenges in a different environment and with different ground rules, Facilitation is there to help this happen.
For an informal chat about support for your business, call us on 01625 329 319 or contact us to arrange for us to call you.
From our base in Macclesfield, we provide Business Advice, Mentoring, Coaching and Training to businesses across Cheshire,Derbyshire and the North West including Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Stockport, Buxton and Manchester.