When Facilitation Goes Wrong

By on / Negotiation Skills

Facilitation works best when a facilitator is matched properly to the group and to the situation. Look out for these signs of trouble that may suggest that you need a different facilitator, or that facilitation may not be working for your group:

  • Poor chemistry. Your facilitator’s personal style may be too forceful, or not forceful enough, for the group
  • Lack of knowledge or experience. Your facilitator may have great process-management skills yet lack the organizational or institutional background needed to comprehend the issues facing the group.
  • Lack of control. If your group leader won’t let the facilitator do her job, it’s a mistake to go forward. Similarly, if group members have different expectations of the facilitator’s responsibilities, she won’t succeed.
  • Internal friction. Underlying group divisions may make it impossible for any facilitator to proceed effectively. In these situations, members may try to blame the facilitator for their own failures.
  • External pressures. When a group is facing unreasonable deadlines, facilitation probably will fail. The group must be committed to taking the necessary amount of time required to work out

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