The Electronic Discussion on
Group Facilitation
Process Expertise for Group Effectiveness
Moderator: Sandor P. Schuman

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Intellectually Dead

From the Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation

www.albany.edu/cpr/gf/

 

Collected by John Walker

 

EXAMPLE: In a workshop on coaching, I do a module on listening (an essential skill in coaching). Such managers will look bored immediately the topic is broached, and participate half-heartedly, because they have already "done" listening (a one day workshop last year). At the end of the day, they write "have covered most of this material before"; their attitude has prevented them from hearing new material.

 

THE BASICS

Many people stressed the basics: of attitude towards these people, seeing them as, in many cases, fearful, and insecure; of being respectful of that: not necessarily expecting huge change in a short time; listening, and encouraging them.

 

Cliff Saunders CliffS@Saunders.com advocated modelling skills and asking them to do the same;

 

Ken Lyon <KWLyon@aol.com>: suggested that many such managers might be prepared to deal with a skill if they could focus more narrowly on it, and see some change. To achieve this, Ken emphasized the need for practise/experience in the the workshop, and gave an example of a "feedback" workshop that had worked well for him.

 

Shillitoe <shillitoe@aol.com> felt the question too broad need specific issues/solutions

"I am convinced, along with Ken, that experience is key to assimilation and transfer. In fact, without experience and significant on line time for debriefing the issues that arise, how can anyone be sure of what was communicated/transferred?"

 

Sarah Sheard Loral Federal Systems (301) 493-1065

Training of any kind works best on those who want to receive it. If you can detect some of the problems that the current group of managers is having, and show how they can be solved by using the techniques you are teaching, you will have their attention. This requires interviews in advance of the class or workshop, and tailoring the material to the class's needs. If you have the time this is the best way to ensure the audience hears what you have to say.

 

Joe Bass <summary of several extended exchanges>..has considerable experience with highly technical people, where this is a clear and definite problem. Technical managers (grossly generalizing here) tend to have a strong mindset or paradigm: that they already KNOW--are convinced that they have reached the limit. Joe suggests providing exercises that jar this paradigm-- demonstrate to these people that they are missing something of importance to them.

 

MY SUMMARY

 

The reminders about basics were very appropos. In a discussion about attendees who apparently think that they have mastered the basics and that answers lie in hitherto hidden realms, it would be embarrassing for the facilitator to make the same mistake!

 

By "basics", I mean efforts that I see to be the essential groundwork of facilitating: creating safety, listening, being respectful, demonstrating skills, letting people practise. I intend to review my coverage of these.

 

I felt that one or two ideas offered me some clearer daylight to avenues that I haven't worked over as carefully. Perhaps "intensives", in which such people would have definite promise of change might attract those stuck and wishing to make a breakthrough; of demonstrating a stronger connection between their desired needs (problems to be solved etc) and the solutions offered; and by designing exercises to help people see that they clearly are missing something from their present skill set...although in a constructive manner. Again, these could be considered basics.

 

Yes, and a final and important lesson is to realize that some managers are only there because they have a training goal to meet, or are thinking about their next job, etc. etc. The facilitator' cannot "rescue" people from their lives and definitely shouldn't sacrifice other participant's value for one or two people. And neither should they be abandoned because the aren't playing the facilitator's game.

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