I have initiated a feature on my website called Bryan’s TIP (Timely Idea to Practice). I base this feature on various issues or challenges that I have helped clients address during recent facilitations. I choose situations where I think the results will be of interest or value to other clients. Of course, there will be no names mentioned! I hope you find this of value to you.
TIP #1 – Establishing Ground Rules
A few minutes establishing ground rules early in a session can be time very well spent and make your session more effective. The time to develop these guidelines is before they are needed, rather than introducing them or imposing them after some participant has tested the limits of the group process. It is critical to get “buy in” from the participants, so they feel a commitment to the guidelines and may even apply some peer pressure to those engaging in unproductive behaviour. Feel free to start a list with a few of your favourite ground rules but always be willing to add others that are offered by group members that appear to have the endorsement of any of the group participants. Note the guidelines on a flipchart and post in clear view, so they can be a visual reminder throughout the session, no matter how subtle.
TIP #2 – Introductions
Introductions can range from tedious and ineffective to exciting and engaging. To hit the positive end of the range, it is critical to quickly get everyone engaged in small group conversations of two or three participants interviewing each other. By discussing something that appears unrelated to the subject matter of the session, you will have an opportunity to begin to build rapport within the group. Recently, I initiated a “pair share” activity where each participant asked their partner, “What skills do you have outside of your workplace that will help make your contribution here today more effective?” and asked each person to report their findings to the group. The result was a buzz of activity replacing the silence of apprehension that was present, as well as an excellent opportunity to practise two key ground rules of active listening and concise responses. That trend continued throughout the day.