When using games in your training program your leadership role will be more effective if you switch to one of facilitation. The role of a facilitator is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: “one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision”.
In the above illustrated quote, facilitators are seen to have a special role to play when structuring participation among people. Games by their very nature are a structured activity. Each person has a particular set of instructions to follow. The leader needs to ensure that everyone knows these instructions. S/he will need to demonstrate or organise for others in the team to demonstrate how this will work. The leader/facilitator will also find it far more effective if they participate fully in the game. This participation will decrease any feelings of threat that might be perceived by the participants.
So what is facilitation?
The word facilitation is based on facilis which is the Latin word for ‘easy’. Facilitation is the process that a facilitator uses to make something easier for others to accomplish.
When a leader is facilitating a team in game playing, their main concerns are:
- making the process easy and flexible
- ensuring full participation taking into consideration physical disabilities and the environment
- encouraging values and ethics that treat everyone equally
- generating an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable
- providing everyone with confidence to contribute
- building team spirit
- calculating an ongoing evaluation of participation and achievement of goals
- determining when to stop the game.
The facilitator of the team can be deemed to be the most important person in the team. They may not be known by the title of facilitator. They may be called a mentor, a leader, a teacher or a coach. Whatever their title, their role is critical to the successful creation of an effective team. In some team situations they may not be visible. But they are vital.
If you are a team leader (facilitator) rethinking your role, investigating if you should become team facilitator or trying to determine who should become a team facilitator (leader), then the following list could benefit you. There are some skills and qualities that are common to all highly successful team facilitators regardless of the type of team they are facilitating (leading). This list is not exclusive but gives a summary of the main attributes.
The ten most visible characteristics of successful facilitators building teams include:
- prior experience in being a team member (generally in the same type of team) with an understanding of the roles of team members and the skills they require
- enthusiasm for the role of facilitator encompassing an eagerness to develop the team members into a team combined with a willingness to continue learning
- having a relaxed and cheerful personality that may also be called optimistic
- objectivity when dealing with all of the team members and the ability to judge behaviours not people
- excellent verbal and non verbal communication skills plus in some situations this may extend to good digital skills
- being a first-class role model combined with a willingness to demonstrate and join in when required
- holding a set of values that are in alignment with the corporate and/or community structures of the team
- having a critical eye to see both potential talent and realise where new skills development is required
- flexibility when faced with unforeseen obstacles barring immediate progress towards an agreed goal
- inclusivity of all team members’ rights including disabled, indigenous and migrant members.