Facilitators: Lead From Within, or Hire Help? How To Decide
Rather than basing your decision purely on “Do we have budget to hire an outsider?”, remember this: Your Federal Sales Q4 Hot Wash represents an investment of your key team members’ time, at the very least.
When I first started my business, I thought I’d do three different things at once: facilitation, conflict resolution, and government contract consulting. I didn’t know much about the first two, but figured it would be easy to come up to speed fast.
The more training I took, and books I read, about facilitation, the more respect I had for professional facilitators. Then I had the honor of watching organizational development professionals like Joan Wangler, President of EDIN Associates. I concluded that reading about it is waaay different from doing it well. If I wanted to be a professional facilitator, I’d need to make a considerable investment in study and practice.
If you or your team feel uneasy about the prospect of running your own Federal Sales Hot Wash, and aren’t sure whether you need help… you’re not alone.
Your answer should center on finding the person with the skills you need for the job. Is that person on your team today, or, if not, what should you look for? Here’s eight things your hot wash facilitator should have the experience to do easily.
Eight Essential Skills For Success
Make sure the person you choose can…
1. Create a custom agenda and process that works for you
Your leader must be able to touch base with participants in advance, get their input, and then sort out the topics into a compelling agenda that will focus discussion on the highest-impact issues for your company and your team. MORE >> Federal Sales Hot Wash: How To Make Sure You Do Yours (Part Two)
2. Engage ALL participants
Ensure that everyone can have their voices heard and take part regardless of the range of their speaking and communication style and to feel they can do so safely and with confidence your introverts in your extroverts all have different ways of taking part and a great facilitator can draw that out and make sure everyone’s voice is heard
3. Minimize / avoid corporate leadership bias
Allows C-suite to participate without dominating or predetermining the outcome. If you’re the CEO, and you’re not also a trained facilitator with recent practice, it’s challenging to lead a session in a way that doesn’t skew the outcome toward your own views. If you want fresh intelligence and want to hear fresh voices, you may be wise to take a fresh approach, too. Your session leader needs to bring authority, a neutral position on the issues at hand, and positive energy.
4. Use varied approaches to discussion
Unusual approaches let you discover fresh perspectives, hear the quieter voices, and inspire innovative ideas. A great leader has a deep toolkit of processes, media, and modalities that can fully engage all your participants. Some of your technical subject matter experts don’t easily contribute to “let’s go around the table, starting with Cheryl this time…” but might share their brilliance in a group drawing, or skit! (“Oh, I’ll just research a few of those online…” I hear you say… Wanna see my shelf of books with stickies in them, marking techniques I’ve meant to use some day?)
5. Adapt the process mid session as need be
Whether your session is in person or online, a thoughtful discussion with your facilitator ahead of time will let you draw on their experience and develop options that are likely to work well for your group. An experienced facilitator notices the signs that folks need to take a break, and can improvise or adjust the approach based on what’s happening at any point in the session.
6. Gain everyone’s trust and confidence quickly
Research shows that high-trust teams are also high-performing teams! In your hot wash, your team needs to feel they’re in safe space for candid conversations. The first element of Brene Brown’s model of the Anatomy of Trust is Boundaries. Your leader must define, declare, and defend, the rules for the engagement for the session: what’s on, what’s off; what we’re doing, what we’re not doing.
MORE >> Tap Brene Brown’s resources and guides on Daring Leadership
7. Sense and manage conflict constructively
Your facilitator needs to be aware of sensitive topics that you’ve agreed to tackle. They also need to be able to notice and address issues that come up, and experiences of interaction, that cause discomfort to one or more people. How will your leader make people feel safe to challenge traditional assumptions and speak their minds in ways that are respectful to others?
8. Record and report to ensure action
Your return on investment comes from capturing the decisions you make, and the commitments for who’s responsible to get things done and by when. A great session needs someone — whether it’s your facilitator or a support person or scribe — to record those things, share a draft for review, finalize the notes, and turn those into an action plan.
Your choice of the right leader for your Federal Sales Q4 Hot Wash has a critical impact on how much return you get on the time your team spends in the session, and on two other investments as well: your entire marketing and sales spend from last year, and what you’ll allocate for the year to come.
- Check out my Federal Q4 Sales Hot Wash Course on Government Marketing University!
- Find a facilitator: Query through the Mid Atlantic Facilitators Network (MAFN)
Talk with a professional facilitator: Many thanks to Becky Roberts of Cactoctin Consulting, and partner in International Leadership Consulting joint venture who chatted with me as I researched this article.