Facilitation is the art of hosting purposeful and inclusive group conversations which unleash the creativity and energy of the whole group.I offer one-off or regular facilitation for a wide range of scenarios, groups and purposes – both face to face and online. Planning for each session starts with a briefing to clarify what the group wishes to achieve from their sessions, and I then design and deliver an agenda in response this – no two sessions are the same.
Strategy/ Forward Planning
Is it time for your team or organisation to take a step back to reflect, take stock of the external context in which you work and to prepare for the future? Strategy development can involve an internal team, whole organisation or mixture of senior leaders and Board. Some externals might also be invited to contribute. Often sessions involve the sharing of information, as well as exploration of different perspectives and generation of ideas. Coaching techniques create a productive, safe and rigorous space for ambitious conversations, leading to clarity and commitment to plans.
Team review and learning days
It can feel hard to make time and space to review when the pressure to deliver can be so relentless, but research shows that even a small amount of time spent on reflection improves our performance significantly. These sessions are designed to make to most of learning by creating a positive and open space for review, coupled with structured prioritisation and planning of how learning can be applied to improve impact. Many teams choose to schedule regular review sessions (eg quarterly) although one-off sessions can also work well.
Team development days
Teams constantly evolve– new personnel, new projects, new structures – things rarely stay the same. Making time to reflect on how you can best work together to maximise your performance as a team and ensure everyone is highly effective and motivated is time well spent. Involving an independent external facilitator can be particularly useful if things have become a little ‘bumpy’, but all teams benefit from regular reflection and planning together. A team day is rarely entirely internally focussed, and the balance between developing internal relationships/ skills/ systems and external planning can be adapted depending on the team’s needs.
Sharing models of team development and team roles and introducing some simple tools to support team communication (eg feedback tips, difficult communications, peer-consulting models) can help your team take its work to the next level. As a trainer, I can offer a range of ‘team skills modules’ to include on your team awayday, alongside facilitation.
Is your Board more than a sum of its parts? Are Trustees engaged; working constructively with staff; providing useful challenge and fulfilling their roles as advocates? Boards have an essential leadership and legal role to play, and yet too often they can be ‘incompetent groups’ of highly competent people. This session uses the NCVO Governance Wheel framework to support the Board to review its current performance and practical steps towards making the fullest use of its talents, networks, perspectives and energy. Regular self-assessment of your Board is key to retaining and engaging Trustees and developing stakeholder confidence. One-off sessions with an external facilitator can be particularly useful when there’s a change of Chair, or issues of sub optimal performance. Follow-up annual self-review is recommended to monitor and fine-tune more established Boards.
Stakeholder Engagement/ Consultations
Increasingly organisations understand the value of consulting, internally and externally, on future plans to ensure strategies are fit for purpose and that stakeholders are engaged and supportive of them. Internal sessions often include some aspect of change and need to create engagement and understanding before meaningful shaping of plans can occur. External sessions often combine sharing information with listening to responses and ideas from stakeholders. Ranging from small team discussions to series of major external events, these sessions can involve planning and collaboration to support staff to lead these sessions. I work closely with staff to clarify what they want to achieve from the consultation, how best to engage stakeholders and plan how to capture the views and ideas of participants.
How can you create contagious commitment to change within your organisation? How can you develop plans together that make achieving change swift and effortless? For change to be effective there needs to be a clear and compelling vision; good communication; commitment and a plan. This session brings people together (often staff and Trustees) to clarify vision for change; understand the need to change and resistance; build commitment; co-design the direction of travel and action plan and plan how to engage wider stakeholders. These sessions are often best achieved in a series of 2-3 sessions over a period of weeks and can culminate in planning stakeholder engagement/ consultation session(s).