The art of facilitating groups is as much about facilitating yourself as anything else. Firstly, you are the only one who can truly facilitate yourself, and secondly, when things really get going, no one will be facilitating you – so you have to facilitate yourself.
Anyone in the role of facilitator will also be in a state of hyper-alertness and sensitivity. As a facilitator its easy to get caught up in the “field”, because you experience directly the feelings around the contentious issues within the group in a heightened way. This will be true for everyone in the group at different stages, but because facilitators are seen as the one’s responsible for holding and supporting the group, they will often sense it first. However, in order for the meeting to be productive and effective, the responsibility for the meeting ultimately needs to be shared. This is the hallmark of an effective group meeting.
Yes self management -vs- group management are crucial distinctions to be aware of. The process / content thing is also vital – facilitator owns the process, group owns the content. Usually this is true, and at the same time I have often come across the situation when the group suggest a much better way of doing things than I can ever dream up, so self management again! How attached am I to this process? How best can the group make progress towards their outcomes? What’s my role here? How might I both challenge the process and the relevance of content to the achievement of declared goals / outcomes? All this for me makes the facilitation job so wonderful!
Yes! And if(when?) the group develops ownership of the process too, or at least part of it, they will be able to work together to develop the content and process that will suit their needs, once the facilitator has left. In fact, like aspects of content, the “facilitator” is just another role that can end up being shared by the group. To see this in action is both humbling and rewarding. I also believe it to be the gateway to a new kind of “leadership”, also a role that is not just fixed to one individual but shared by the group. Indeed, that makes facilitating a joy. The exciting thing is – its rarely that smooth!