Key Learning Objectives
- Understand the principles of group facilitation – for community and stakeholder engagement
- Create clear and compelling aims for high-stakes meetings
- Design events for high impact
- Generate spirited interaction and robust discussion
- Create alignment across different stakeholders and get buy-in to a shared purpose
- Keep things on track as you work through multiple issues
- Determine appropriate processes and tools to enhance engagement with participants
- Facilitate meaningful conversations in challenging contexts
- Influence through questioning and listening, not through brow-beating or cajoling
- Harness differences and manage hostility and conflict in ways that support your purpose
- Influence stakeholders to achieve high quality results
About the Course
Throughout the past decade or more, decision-making in organisations has become more complex and difficult. Organisations are expected to adapt to change, respond quickly to emergent trends, and manage complex issues across multiple disciplines. They are increasingly expected to engage with internal and external stakeholders. This can bring real benefits to organisations in gaining support for change initiatives, but it can also result in real headaches.
Too often, leaders generate resistance to their most desirable initiatives by failing to engage staff and stakeholders in smart and effective ways. They assume that people can be compelled to subscribe to a pre-decided course of activity. They fail to harness the skill and enthusiasm that naturally emerges when people feel strong ownership of an initiative.
In a digital world, it is becoming clearer that face-to-face ‘live’ events are a ‘premium’ methodology for getting deep buy-in and solutions in complex, often heated, circumstances. There are some challenges that won’t be solved on email or facebook.
The course acknowledges the reality of stakeholder challenges. While we invite and encourage deep collaboration, we also acknowledge that there are many constraints (political, economic, social) on open dialogue and strong alignment. We offer well-tested and practical approaches across a wide suite of high-stakes meetings.
While this course will consider the planning and preparation phases for live events, it will not address in comprehensive detail the full range of risk-assessment and communication strategies for different stakeholder groups ‘outside the room’.
The main focus is on the sharp end of facilitation – planning and conducting events where stakeholders come together in face-to-face meetings.
Leaders can no longer rely only on formal authority or a chain of command to achieve ambitious change initiatives. They need to leverage more informal ways of exercising leadership, building trustful relationships with staff and colleagues.
Who Will Benefit
- Staff playing leading roles in community and stakeholder engagement processes
- Consultants who manage community and stakeholder engagement processes
- People ‘at the sharp end’ who are directly responsible for facilitating live stakeholder meetings
- Leaders (project managers, team leaders, chairpeople, trainers) who want to develop their skills in engaging and motivating people’s involvement in projects and events.
- Anyone who is anxious before leading a meeting, or exhausted afterwards
- Those who want confidence in dealing with ‘the unknown’ and in confronting negativity and cynicism.
“Over the years I have attended many training courses provided by [Informa Corporate Learning]. I have always found the course content to be relevant and accurate and the course facilitators to be leaders in their field.”
Analyst, Eni Australia Ltd
The ‘what and why’ of facilitation
- Why groups are important: the power of the group (for good or ill)
- The role of a facilitator in shaping stakeholder engagement
- Leading in ‘unknown’ territory and in volatile, uncertain, complex times
- Shifting from discussion to dialogue
- The history and politics of facilitation for stakeholder engagement
- The fundamental distinction between content and process. Why facilitators don’t have to be subject experts (and good news for control freaks).
Design it: Planning and preparation for group events using the 3 P’s
- Designing for purpose – starting with success in mind
- Getting real: clarifying what is to be achieved through appropriate organisational consultation
- Creating a purpose statement that is clear and compelling
- Shaping and sharing the context for the meeting, in a way that gets everyone in closer alignment before the meeting
- Managing the tension around purpose – too sharp or too loose?
- Positioning for engagement across the spectrum (from mere ‘informing’ to full participatory decision-making)
- Registering the risks
- Who should be in the meeting? Stakeholder mapping for influence and alignment
- Catering for different preferences and styles
- Addressing difference in power and status
- Difficult people – dealing with disagreement, domination and disengagement
- Getting ‘buy-in’ and ownership for decisions
- Reliable tools and tips for generating spirited involvement and robust interaction, using experiential techniques
- Specific ‘structured stimulus activities’ to address particular challenges
- Crafting questions – building a robust Question Bank
- Creating agendas using planning templates for (almost) all meetings
- Generating and sorting multiple ideas – brainstorming, brainswarming, affinity mapping
- Prioritising choices
- Decision-making tools and methods
- Audit your current approaches using our Engagement Index
Do It – going live with groups
Starting strong – warming people up in the first few minutes: to the facilitator, to each other, to the purpose, to a positive culture.
- Posing Questions – good questions and great questions, exploring hidden assumptions, exposing ‘the elephant in the room’, dealing with silence
- Active Listening – an intensive focus on listening skills
- Generating Interaction – encouraging different voices and opinions without wasting time, moderating the ‘dominators’, enhancing dialogue between participants and finding common ground
- Observing – monitoring the pace and quality of the discussion, to keep everyone involved and on track, managing time
- Assertiveness in a spirit of co-operation
- Harnessing conflict for good
- Managing time
- Creating group meaning – synthesising and summarising
- Noticing and shifting patterns of behaviour that support quality interaction
- The language of facilitation: framing, shaping meaning
- Managing your own anxiety
Following up and following through
- Getting traction from your meetings
- Shaping ‘artefacts’ that create a memorable legacy
Addressing specific needs of participants
Participants will be invited to complete an online survey to highlight specific needs and interests, in order to fine tune the course for specific contexts. They will also be invited to identify relevant challenge scenarios that could be explored further in the course. Depending on participant numbers, some participants may be invited to experiment with specific live role plays on the second day of the course.
On-site & in-house training
Deliver this course how you want, where you want, when you want – and save up to 40%! 8+ employees seeking training on the same topic?
Talk to us about an on-site/in-house & customised solution.