Facilitating…the art of making a task easier.

Archive for the ‘Focused group’ Category

Dealing With Difficult People – Why Do They Act Like That?

DifficultPeopleYou have seen them. They are the people that always have a different opinion. They know the ONLY way to do something. They don’t want to even consider another way. We have all worked with them. Everyone wants to know how do we deal with that type of person?

Before you can deal with that type of person, you need to look at why do they take that hard stance? What is it that makes them feel that they are right?
Generally, people take a difficult stance for one or more of the following reasons:

1. They experienced a similar situation before that was not successful and are convinced this will not be successful either so why are you wasting my time.
2. They don’t have enough “context” information to see the big picture. Their scope of knowledge is only a portion of the entire problem, situation or project.
3. They may have some personal issues that they are dealing with that prevent them from fully participating.
4. They are afraid that they will appear weak among their peers and reports. They have a need to always be right.
5. They are afraid of failure. If you don’t do it my way it won’t work and then I will be responsible anyway.

These are just a few of the real reasons that people behave in a difficult manner. I believe there are underlying issues for most people when they behave in this way. Your meetings need to be structured to mitigate these behaviors. You may not be able to prevent them all but you can certainly start to establish a process to reduce them. Here are just a few suggestions.

1. Be sure that the people you have in the meeting are there for a reason. Don’t invite everyone. Invite only those that need to participate. If you have a group of people that simply need to be “in the know” send them a memo. Otherwise, you will be wasting time.
2. Let the group share what they feel the desired outcome of the meeting should be. What would they consider “success” of the meeting. Each person may have a totally different idea of why they are even at the meeting.
3. When you see bad behavior do something. Move around the room, go stand by the person who is having the side conversation. They will stop.
4. Be sure you have enough small group discussions built into the meeting so that they have a chance to share information with their neighbors.
5. Have a defined, interesting and engaging agenda and discussion. If the participants at the meeting are able to check their email while in the meeting, you have room to improve your meeting and agenda planning. Participants should not be interested in checking their email ( unless they are on call or in need) and should be drawn to the meeting. They should know that they are a part of the meeting and their voices and input is important.

One of skills that is growing in demand is “facilitation” skills. To be adapt at designing and facilitating meetings takes training and research. ICA-USA and ICA-Associates, Canada have spent decades developing facilitation training based on successful implementation of those methods. Consider taking one of the two upcoming classes offered by ICA-USA and ICA-Canada. ICA-USA ToP TM Facilitation Methods will show you two methods (Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop) and one process ( Action Planning). The ICA-Canada class will show you how to determine the “right” people to have in the room, develop agendas, room set up, flip chart tips , 72 activities to use in your meetings and how to deal with difficult people.

Here are the links to the 2 Florida classes. Each of them are a 2 day workshop.

* Top Facilitation Methods – ICA – USA, http://bit.ly/1Udds20
* Making Meetings Work – ICA – Associates http://bit.ly/2aCt5iL

Toastmasters and facilitation?

If you have never been to a Toastmasters meeting, I encourage you to find the nearest one. As a facilitator, you need to be able to communicate in a fashion that people enjoy listening to and are clearly understood. In addition to improving your own speaking and listening skills, you will find many great gems in the talks that you will hear others present. Here is one that struck home with me recently.

Facilitating and Improv
What do they have to do with each other? Isn’t improv really just “stand up comedy?” That is what I thought too until I heard the recent talk on Improv and meetings. When you engage in improv you respond ‘unscripted” to whatever situation you find yourself in. It is “being in the moment” with a clear mind and able to respond to “the moment”. The presenter at this meeting offered the following tips.

BE NOW – Be present in the moment. Don’t be thinking about what happened yesterday or what you are going to say as a response to the person talking. Listen.
SAY YES – Be open to new ideas. Don’t ever say, we tried that and it didn’t work.
SAY YES AND ! – Not only say yes, but contribute to the new idea and add to what was previous said.
NO – Throw away your fears. Don’t worry about failure.
NO – Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Trust your meeting partners.
BE ONE – Be one with the group. Stay with them and the thoughts that are being shared. Listen and respond to what is going on that moment.

I really wish I could have recorded this person’s talk as she was incredible at delivering it and I was hanging on every word. I was with her at every moment.

You never know what you don’t know….

Objective –  The objective of this event was to gather people for a focused conversations to confirm assumed conclusions.  A large committee had been working on future plans for this association and had developed several assumptions.   An event was planned specifically to invite participants to provide their opinions on questions.   The participants that would be answering the questions range from having no previous knowledge of this committee’s plans to being intimately familiar with the plans and process.

The room was set up in tables of 8-10 people per table.  Attendee list was sorted and assigned to tables to force participants that have arrived together from the same state to not sit at the same table.  Facilitators in charge of each “project” were at assigned tables.  One facilitator lead per table.

After the group had completed their meal, dishes were cleared away and the overview of the event was described.   The facilitators at each table had 15 minutes to conduct a focused conversation on their particular topic. The questions had been reviewed to not be “leading” questions and as open ended as possible.  The intent was that the results of the questions  would confirm or deny assumptions.

After 15 minutes, time was called and the facilitators from each table, moved one table to their right.  They were then able to start anew with another set of participants.  The participants had name badges on and an indication of what state they were from.  This additional information gave some insight to the individual table facilitators as to the background of the discussion from the participants.  It became apparent to them that larger states had different outlooks than smaller states.   It was also apparent to them that a large percent of their assumptions were not true.  Additionally, discussion from the group resulted in the fact that there was a great need for better communications all around and that basic knowledge that was assumed, was not understood.

The recap of this event was that it was very worthwhile and the insights gained by this committee will save them time, energy and instilled in them the importance for communications as well as a “predicted” response to the end results of their efforts.

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