|Re: Using outside facilitator||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Catherine McCarthy (cmccarthychip.ucdavis.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 10 Jun 94 02:43 CDT|
>Gordon Weil wrote: > >>We have hired a facilitator to help our group work through tough issues. > >I would be interested in knowing more about how your group found a >facilitator. (They're not listed in the yellow pages :-) > I'd like to comment on this as a trained/experienced facilitator as well as a researcher who observes public meetings and gets to see lots of different facilitating styles. Some facilitators believe it is absolutely necessary to have an outside/neutral party as a facilitator while others believe it is okay to have an internal facilitator (such as a meeting chair or rotating facilitator). ADVANTAGES/DIS-ADVANTAGES For an ongoing group like co-housing, it may be good to work on developing skills among the members rather than hiring an outsider. Although the outsider has definite advantages, but the big disadvantage is money. However, many different kinds of groups I observe - especially those dealing with contentious issues or have a lack of trust within the group - feel that they are much happier, effective, and find it much easier to work to make the group process work with an outside facilitator. FINDING ONE If you are looking for a facilitator, try and talk around to local groups who use a facilitator. Many ARE in the phonebook under such things as "public involvement specialist," "public relations," etc. But I would definitely try to find one through personal contacts first. May contact with the facilitator and ask to observe a meeting that this person facilitates. This is the best way to see if you like their style. There are many different styles, some facilitators are much more active and work hard to bring the group to a consensus quickly, some tend to let the group discuss a lot of issues, some are very active about sticking to groundrules - while others are more laid back. Some make suggestions to bring closure to issues, while others are opposed to this and never interject their own ideas. Really think about what your goals are in hiring a facilitator and what skills you'd be most interested in. One of my personal biases here would be to find someone who is knowledgeable about the issues you are facing - facilitators can be extremely useful sources of information or can conversely not understand many key issues and not be as effective as they could be. TRAINING SOME OR ALL MEMBERS Another way to do it is to bring in a person who could train some/all members of your group to be a facilitator - or send a bunch of you to a workshop. I would suggest avoiding having only 1 facilitator all the time - this often leads to burn-out for the individual, frustration on the part of the individual with others in the group, inability of the individual to express his/her ideas without being viewed as domineering/bossy, and resentment of the individuals power by others in the group. This would give you the skills to do it yourselves and would probably save a lot of money. Training all/some of you give you good skills, e.g. active listening, etc. Those who are trained tend to become better process participants, better listeners, more respectful of the process, and more effective overall. However, it would not fill the need for a "neutral/outsider." A really inexpensive way to get training is for all of you to read a book - this is a great first start. RESOURCES There are lots of books out there on different facilitation methods and group process. Here are a few: Center for Conflict Resolution (Madison, WI) A Manual for Group Facilitators 1978 M. Doyle and D. Straus How to Make Meetings Work: The New Interaction Method (1982) Jove Books There are MANY others (I got tired of typing) some focus more on consensus, others more on negotiation, mediation Another good resource on-line here on the cohousing list is Kevin Wolf (with the Davis N-Street community). If you want some specific info on suggestions for training, places to look, etc., you can contact me at cmccarthy [at] ucdavis.edu. good luck! Catherine ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Catherine McCarthy ------------------ OFFICE: Division of Environmental Studies, UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616 HOME: 503 F Street, Davis, CA 95616, (916)753-8389 EMAIL: cmccarthy [at] ucdavis.edu
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