Disagreements occasionally arise in even the most peaceful offices, and a good manager also knows how to play the role of an effective business facilitator. In this role, he can model behavior that can be key to employee development.
Facilitating a delicate situation is more than just being the middleman between two parties. A good facilitator is a neutral party who is able to diffuse heated emotions, draw out helpful input from group members and move the group toward consensus. Develop these four essential qualities, and you will learn to turn a conflict into an amicable resolution.
- 1. Listening
Active listening is the first and most important skill a business facilitator must possess. Each person involved will have his or her own perspective of the problem, and it is your job to make sure everyone is heard. Listen to gather background information, understand the point of view of all participants and mitigate tensions that may arise.
- 2. Neutrality
Maintaining complete neutrality can be challenging, especially when you know the participants involved in a conflict, but remember that you are here to assist the group and must put aside your own personal opinions and agenda. Be fair to all the participants, allow everyone a chance to speak and set ground rules that can be repeated in tense moments. For example, some ground rules might be:
- One person talks at a time (for a set period, such as only two-minute limit)
- Be honest and respectful
- Use “I” statements and speak from personal experience (“I feel… when you…” instead of “You are…”)
- No insults or personal attacks
- Criticize an idea or behavior, not a person
- Be aware of body language and nonverbal communication (eye rolling, shoulder shrugging, etc.)
- 3. Responsiveness
Your role as business facilitator is to guide the discussion toward a resolution. When participants start to go off track from the topic at hand, gently bring them back to the situation you are discussing. Focus on moving forward, not getting caught up in details from the past. Learn to identify difficult personalities that might dominate or derail the conversation, and refer back to the ground rules you made earlier.
Summarize what individuals have said and ask for clarification when necessary. Ask the group specific, open-ended questions when the conversation is in aggrenoxtabs a rut. Don’t force anyone to speak, but ensure that everyone is encouraged to participate.
- 4. Decisiveness
While facilitating, be decisive and stay action-oriented, never losing sight of the ultimate goals you are trying to achieve. You may not solve the entire problem in on sitting, but conclude by recognizing the progress you have made so far and the contributions the group has made. Allow participants to make closing statements if they wish, and together map out next steps, whether it is another facilitation session or a group action plan.
What other communications skills training do you think are valuable as a business facilitator? Add your feedback in the comments below.
Learn more about the Employee Development Systems, Inc. Listen First to Understand Facilitator Guide.