Open sharing: a day of facilitation

Today’s brief was:

A new service was started about 9 months ago. They’re a team of 7 including the manager. They were cracking on with getting the service rolling and creating processes as they went along. They needed a day to reflect on how they were working together, building relationships, handling change, developing better work processes, and maintaining high levels of client engagement.

*cracks fingers*

We started the day with an exercise in drawing a window with four panes that looked like this:

I changed my mind on how I was originally going to do this exercise. Instead of a window, I’ve previously gone for a shield. After sharing my thoughts via Twitter about the day ahead, there was useful challenge and conversation about the connotations a shield has. In particular, for me, were the strength of gender politics that are associated with a shield and this really made me uncomfortable in using it as a rapport building tool. There is always a decision we can make about the ethics of the methodology. I could have gone ahead with the shield and no-one would have noticed the difference. My decision on this was to be an ethically and morally lead facilitator. So I decided to go with a window and this worked really nicely.

The group drew their respective images, and did a great job of helping others know more about them as individuals.

From there, I wanted to open the group to a different way of understanding each other’s communication styles. I chose to go with four questions:

  • When you’re talking to me, I need to know…
  • When I’m talking, I like to express myself like this…
  • When we’re talking, I feel good when…
  • When we’re talking, I feel bad when…

Each person filled out the blanks for themselves and then had to move around the room and share their responses with others. What quickly (and I’ll admit unexpectedly) happened was a level of openness and unprompted feedback about what people were hearing and how they experienced the other person. Thankfully, it didn’t become nasty, and no-one was being offensive in their approach.

In doing this, we spent most of the morning just focused on this side of things.

After lunch, because of the good weather, I sent the group outside. They had to achieve four objectives:

  1. Find something interesting about the local area
  2. Do something kind
  3. Take a photo of something that made them smile
  4. Reflect on how local facilities could aid in social inclusion for their clients

When they came back, it was great to hear about what that time outside meant for them and what they chose to do to fulfil the different objectives. It also provided them with additional ways to understand their team members, and build that empathy with one another.

The final activity for the day was to list out the different things about their day to day work that needed improving. They came up with a list of about 11 items. Two were discounted as they were too big to be discussed and resolved. The other nine were split into three groups, and I split the group into three groups too. In trying to resolve the items they had to answer three questions:

  • What’s the current situation?
  • What does the ideal situation look like?
  • How do we get there?

They did so well on this. Because the items were shared out amongst everyone to resolve, they all had their own way of understanding what the problem was, what resolution needed to look like and how to suggest ideas for people to make things happen. Personally, when I see that people are involved in this kind of way, they not only have ownership, but they’re actively being given permission and authority to make decisions where they might not have that in a formal structure.

I was (and am) really pleased with how the day went. I wanted to share in this space to demonstrate how so much of what we write about with regards to being better facilitators and better practitioners can be designed in to the solutions we deliver. I purposefully set out to make inclusion a strong element of the day. Prayer rooms were organised, healthy food options were provided, a good environment for the day, useful exploration of the outside environment, healthy conversations with one another, collective and co-created actions for what needs to happen next. It was all there and I hope this write up serves as a way to see it in action (of sorts).

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Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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