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Facilitation Techniques in Project Management | The Ultimate GUide

Navdeep Singh Gill | 30 December 2022

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Introduction to Facilitation in Project Management

Facilitation is indeed a fancy word in the world of Project management. The more it sounds Fancy, the more tricky it is. Facilitation means making things more manageable, and making things more accessible is a big task! The facilitator does not have any power over what is being discussed in the group; they make it easier for everyone.

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Why don’t we understand what facilitation is from the very start? Facilitation is a skill to drive the best and resolve the worst in a group while working on any project with a specific objective. Project management meetings can be used as a great tool to facilitate.

As per the Scrum guide, “someone who helps a group of people understands and achieve their objectives by promoting collaboration, optimizing the process, and creating synergy within the team.” Facilitation is a process in which someone-a facilitator-helps people reach a decision or goal. The facilitator does not take over the discussion but helps the group explore ideas and find new solutions.

Facilitation is a valuable tool for project managers. It helps them to manage the complexities of projects and to keep stakeholders on track and on time.
The word "facilitate" comes from the Latin word "facilities," which means “ease, convenience, or comfort.” It refers to making something more accessible, less complex, less complicated, or more pleasant. Facilitation is managing projects by listening attentively to people's different perspectives and finding solutions that work for everyone involved. A good facilitator will create an environment where people are comfortable expressing themselves in a non-threatening way.

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What are the types of Facilitation?

Facilitation manages the communication between the stakeholders to reach a shared understanding of the project. It can be done by using different techniques to guide discussions and decisions. There are two main types of facilitation:

  • Informal facilitation: It is unplanned, spontaneous, and has no formal structure or preset agenda. It is used when there are few people involved in the discussion, when there are no time constraints and when participants have already agreed on what they want to achieve during the meeting.
  • Formal facilitation: This type of facilitation has a more structured approach, with a preset agenda and specific techniques for guiding discussions and decisions. It is used when many people are involved in the discussion when time constraints exist.

What are the key skills of facilitator?

  • The facilitator should know how to design, take the lead in meetings, and ensure meeting the objectives and goals.
  • Facilitators should be able to question relevant points to get clarity over new insights.
  • The facilitator must have listening skills.
  • The facilitator must work on creating a powerful team instead of looking for individuals.
  • Facilitator should be able to help things happen.
  • The facilitator must have a keen observation.
  • Facilitators should understand how to address difficult attitudes and unproductive behavior.
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What are the facilitation techniques in Project Management?

The facilitation techniques in project management are described below:

Leading the group in brainstorming sessions

We must define the problem and why we have this brainstorming session. Let everyone showcase their ideas. Try to make the session more exciting and creative.

Questioning

Questioning helps to check the understanding level of the participants. It also makes everyone attentive.

Clarifying

If we have observed someone isn’t clear about things in the meeting. We need to clarify things with him so everyone can be on the same page.

Facilitating discussions

Introduce the discussion topic to everyone and maintain the flow. Summarize the meeting.

Encouraging participation from all members of the group

Encourage everyone to participate and put their viewpoints in the discussion.

Summarizing

At the end of the discussion, sum up the discussion points and actionable.

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What are its best practices?

The best practices for 

Being assertive, not being aggressive.

When we are assertive there is nothing like being passive nor aggressive, direct and honest. We don't expect other people in the meeting to know what we want, so we speak up to ask for what we need with confidence.

I create a meeting agenda every time

Creating the agenda is essential since it helps other attendees know about the meeting, like what will happen. A meeting agenda also helps the guest set priorities and help to sort their schedule.  

Always set meeting ground rules

As a facilitator, setting the rules for a great meeting is crucial.

Some rules are like:-

  1. What kind of meeting do we have? Should everyone be aware of this?
  2. Limitation on the number of attendees, only relevant members should be invited.
  3. The team must join on time.
  4. Always focus on the agenda/issue, not on the people.

Always document and record decisions and action items

Making things documented is always beneficial. During meetings, there are high chances of forgetting a few points if the meetings are longer. It has been observed that recording the meeting and actionable items is a great way to track the progress. Actionable helps to understand what all actions are for whom, and as a facilitator, we can track it.

Ask leading questions

Asking the leading questions is always a step nearer to clarity. It helps to analyze the team’s understanding too. Questions such as:-

  • What’s your view on the plan?
  • Have we covered all the requirements?
  • Are the timelines final?
  • Is there anything we are not aware of?
  • What do you feel about the current plan?
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Conclusion

Facilitation has a lot of detailed processes since it involves people. Understanding the importance of time and keeping decorum while encountering the leading questions makes the process complex. We help people decide without taking over the discussion but instead help the group to explore ideas and find new solutions, which makes the whole process challenging as we need to pull out the best ways to fulfill the agenda of the meeting. The best practices should be followed since it helps the facilitator to align. Facilitation is the skill of managing different people with different ideas and opinions. Making sure everyone is on the same page.