Facilitation, OD, coaching, and partisanship

I’ve been wondering of late, how important is it for a facilitator, coach or OD person to be objective in the work they do?

I mean, do I want someone who is a clear fence sitter and doesn’t provide direction to a group/individual towards their goal?

And I’m trying to balance this with our understanding that people are largely selfish, are capable of self-determination, and can be capable of achieving great things.

But, if I’m seeking some support, don’t I want someone to provide that direction?

In my Twitter timeline, I observe many of the people I follow and the hesitancy to state they have an opinion about something. So I never truly understand them, because I don’t know what they stand for. Others, I observe, sit on that fence so neatly and comfortably, I wonder what it would take for them to fall on one side or the other.

We are not balanced individuals. We are a mess of emotions, thoughts, impulses and so much more. We are affected, we are weird and amazing, and as humans, that’s what compels us to create relationships in different ways.

So, I’m unsure about this whole kind of pan-partisan thing I experience. If I bring someone in to do work, I want them to bring all of their quirks, foibles and flaws – I don’t want them to be hidden. Because if they’re hidden, then who are you being?

Equally, in facilitation, OD or coaching, I don’t think it’s helpful for the person leading those to be the ultimate “this is your decision, you’re an adult make it up as you go along” type of person. I think I want someone to be able to step in and say “Oi! You! No!” (well, not quite like that, although I might be tempted to do that)

Come on readers, what do you think?


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.

5 thoughts on “Facilitation, OD, coaching, and partisanship”

  1. Hi Sukh. If it helps, I have variously described myself as a ‘critical friend’ and a ‘pain in the arse’. You don’t get pearls without grit in the oyster. I usually always carefully give my opinion. It needs framing well.

  2. Do people need to stand for things? Do they have to share what they stand for? My assumption is that these things are for them to decide.
    I’ve learned, I can tell an executive team what good leadership looks like, but any work they do is more likely to stick if they ask themselves some tough questions.. I can challenge, and do — often the less I say, the more powerful shifts can be, although I need to be there somehow for the shifts to occur. It’s the same in coaching so many times I think I have a thought, a suggestion, and coachees often would love that, it would give them the answer! But most of the time, if I keep giving attention, they get there themselves. More powerful huh?
    So I’ve written all this, and I’m thinking about your blog, and I realise, I’m not quite clear about what exactly is the challenge, and I don’t know what pan partisan means, and google wasn’t much help either..

  3. I guess if you want a facilitator/external support to align themselves to a point of view then that’s all in the contracting.

    I definitely have strong opinions about some things, but I work hard not to project my stuff into a group. Facilitator can have a lot of power. Distributing the power means, for me, not colluding with group psychodynamics. Not aligning to a point of view doesn’t mean a person is hidden – does it?

    Coaching; endless coaching questions can seem like fence sitting to me. Ha, we all have our own irritations.

  4. There’s an underlying current for me in this about power. Why does it matter what I think when you’re the one having to do the work or create the life you want? Who’s to say my opinion is more valid because I stand at the front?

    I agree with Meg – I have an opinion on most things but whether I choose to let it loose is another matter entirely. What’s the benefit? How does my opinion provide service to a particular group when I can’t know them as well as they know themselves. Supporting others to feel safe about disclosing their opinions- yes please.

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