Much can – and often does –go wrong during a planned facilitation. Unfortunately, even the most well designed event can have mishaps. While it’s easy to think about best-case scenarios, let’s understand a few of the things that can go wrong in a facilitation. Highlighting some of these common pitfalls will help you more effectively lead group discussions in a way that ensures you get the positive outcomes you’ve planned for.
#1 The Band Stander
Not every facilitation has one, but if you happen to have a band stander attending your event, you’d better be prepared. Band standers are people with one very specific goal– to push through an agenda no matter what. Band standers can be extremely damaging to a facilitation because they stifle compromise, diminish the ability to listen and detract from the process. In many cases, band standers will interfere, interrupt and make it difficult for anyone to be heard who has differing opinions.
#2 Technical Difficulties
When you’ve invested your heart and soul into a project, unexpected technical difficulties can be frustrating. Take the time necessary to ensure all of your technology is working properly and ready to go. When disaster strikes, it can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared. And even the best, cutting edge solutions have been known to have a glitch.
With groups of all sizes, some conflict is expected, but diverse opinions and heartfelt passions can lead to conflict situations that explode. While you certainly can’t always know when or where conflict will erupt, it’s best to have a solution in place. Working closely with stakeholders to understanding potential conflicts will help you more adequately prepare. Having the ability to restructure a certain element of the process or change directions midstream to accommodate a new variable will help you stay steady on your feet in times of turmoil.
#4 Not Having a Backup Plan
Starting with the design process, it’s imperative to prepare for the unexpected. Not having a backup plan in place is one of the most damaging– and avoidable pitfalls. A great facilitator should have the capacity to not only roll out something logical, but also should be responsive to change if need be and have the ability to manage it effectively. It could be as simple as moderating a panel with a presenter who isn’t watching the time or as complex as restructuring an entire element to cater to conflict. Having a plan that is ready to go, no matter what, will keep your facilitation on track and a success.
No one looks forward to mistakes, unexpected setbacks or technical problems. But the reality is, they happen and they happen often. Part of learning the art of effective facilitation involves not only understanding what could go wrong, but also taking proactive steps to avoid pitfalls by planning for the unexpected.