Project Facilitation – Definition, Role and Skills
I can hardly image effective project management (PM) without good facilitation. As my experience proves, project performance considerably depends on how the team is facilitated to make decisions, solve problems and respond to risks and changes. PM facilitation provides a teamwork improvement mechanism that constitutes attitudes, performance, abilities, cultural patterns and results of the team.
In this article, I’d like to focus you on the meaning of facilitation, what the facilitator role involves, and what skills a candidate to this role should obtain.
Facilitation in Project Management
Some projects come up with a need for facilitation when there is lack of effective decision making and problem solving. I give the following definition of facilitation:
Facilitation in project management means a process of intervention in the working environment to increase productivity and efficiency of the team and to prevent project failure. This process aims to ensure success in project delivery. It should result in forming a well trained and experienced team committed to the implementation of the approved recommendations.
The process of PM facilitation uses the following main tools:
- Training, incl. coaching, workshops, seminars, brainstorming
- Analysis, incl. root cause analysis
- Consulting, incl. presentations, demonstrations, recommendations
- Overall guidance, incl. supervision reports
Facilitation in managing projects favors smooth development of teams. Its benefits to the project environment are as follows:
- Development of collaborative skills and abilities
- Ensure reduced number and cost of outside consultants
- A higher level of commitment to the team goals
The Role of Project Facilitator includes a series of duties and responsibilities to favor the development of a team by providing training, analysis, consulting and guidance to team members. It aims to ensure effective problem solving and decision making throughout the implementation life cycle.
A person pretending to the project facilitator role should be agreed upon and acceptable to all team members. He or she will assist the group in solving problems and making decisions but will have no authority to make decisions.
Often the role of PM facilitation is carried out by the team leader who has to facilitate the development of teamwork and the implementation of required philosophies within the collaborative environment.
However, in larger teams where team leaders cannot perform the facilitation role there is obviously a need to hire an independent person who could provide assistance to the leader and advise regarding best practices of teamwork.
A candidate to the role should be able to:
- Analyze and understand current issues and conflicts
- Recommend right techniques/tools for team improvement
- Provide training and support
- Participate and manage team meetings
- Ensure time keeping throughout the project
- Ensure effective communications
Top 5 Skills
In order for a person assigned to the PM facilitation role to be effective in project management, he or she should obtain a number of skills and abilities, such as the following:
Project facilitator cares that the team moves toward the desired goals, while maintaining neutrality to the results obtained. In other words, the facilitator should be skilled in managing teamwork process rather than result.
For some people facilitation might look easy, but in fact it is hard work that required good planning skills. Project facilitator needs to plan things ahead in order to be prepared for teamwork sessions.
The planning skill means being able to understand the team and its issues and to develop a flexible action plan which could help team members achieve their goals and objectives.
As mentioned, facilitation involves a portion of neutrality but it does not mean project facilitator should be inactive and “comatose”. Quite the reverse, that person should be energetic and bring energy to the team.
Being energetic makes it easier for the facilitator to keep people focused and engaged. This ability allows fostering good attitude and ensuring team commitment.
Good facilitation in project management can’t exist without effective communications. The ability of being an effective communicator means that project facilitator contributes to reaching mutual understanding between teammates, so that the team could create and share right meaning of same information, without any distortion.
A group facilitator cares that each team member can smoothly communicate with the management and colleagues and that there is no conflict in the team environment.
Being positive is a kind of art that requires a facilitator to pro-actively promote an idea, encourage the team and address a problem. It involves a great effort and much energy.
An effective facilitator in project management makes team members want to accomplish the shared goals and to deliver the project on time, under budget and as per specification. A positive tone and active position should be the major habits of that person.