The importance of quality facilitation skills can be seen across industries. Businesses in the US alone waste $37 billion on ineffective meetings, as these group environments can lead to poor communication, a lack of collaboration and wasted time.
Within education, the same trends can be seen. As classrooms shift away from teaching students mainly rote facts and knowledge that they need to memorize and shift more towards teaching students the skills they need to thrive in the work environment alongside core knowledge, facilitator skills only become more important.
"Those with facilitation skills can help to bring about an environment of learning and collaboration."
They help to encourage those in the space to work together and see what they can accomplish jointly. Educators and leaders want to encourage those within their group to have the mindset that will encourage them to continue to look at the situation from new perspectives, to have the skills to try a variety of different solutions, and the understanding of how to work with others to find a solution that will help them thrive.
"Facilitation lies at the core of intellectual stimulation and helping students to develop their competencies both in the classroom and then out in the work environment."
The benefits of facilitation skills
When leaders and educators take the time to learn more about facilitation skills and how to implement them in the work or learning environment, they will find that they can experience a variety of benefits. Here are some of the main advantages that many will experience as they incorporate these skills into their environment.
1. Get more done during your meeting/class times
A leader or educator with quality facilitation skills can help encourage the entire group to get more done when everyone gets together to discuss and work on a given issue. The leader is equipped to encourage the members of the team to achieve their objectives and meet their common goals.
In a professional meeting, since the team is geared to work productively, the meeting can achieve more in a shorter time frame. The leader helps to boost efficiency.
In an academic environment, this can mean that students achieve more of their learning objectives, covering more material and gaining improved preparation for their degrees or training, so they will excel in the work environment.
2. Improve your investments in your meeting/class
For businesses to thrive, they have to regularly think about the time, money, and resources that they invest in projects at different points. In education, that investment comes in the form of ensuring that students have the time and capacity to master the material they need to graduate and then succeed in the professional world.
In all environments, this investment includes meetings or classes to combine efforts to determine the best course forward with different projects. When these groups incorporate facilitation skills, they improve their investment management.
By working together more effectively, the time they take to finish their discussion decreases. Similarly, the number of meetings or classes needed to learn a subject, resolve issues and discuss problems that arise will also decrease. Overall, this means that employees and students spend less time sitting down in meetings or workshops and spend more of their valuable time in implementing the desired plans and achieving the outcomes that the team set out to work on.
3. Give the group dynamics a boost
By incorporating facilitation skills, the group dynamics also receive a boost. This means that those involved in the discussions during the meeting or class are supported by improved communication strategies. These strategies help people better express their opinions and work together towards common goals.
Communication is an essential part of building a strong team or a strong classroom. Teams that have quality communication skills find themselves 4.5x more likely to retain their best employees. Additionally, businesses with strong communication experience 50% lower turnover overall. Teams working together effectively helps build a stronger taskforce and therefore improves results across multiple measures. By holding on to their best employees, the team will decrease turnover and maintain high-value workers that help the group accomplish more.
As the group improves their collective behaviour and communication skills, they also reduce any potential frustration felt within the team. People feel respected and heard throughout the discussions, which therefore improves collective feelings amongst team members.
When people feel as though the final solution reflects their point of view and that they had the chance to participate in the discussion that led to the outcome, they also feel more accountable and invested in the implementation of the plan. This helps improve the performance of the team as a whole.
4. Increase participation from all group members
In many groups, poor dynamics begin to manifest as certain members of the team begin to dominate discussions. This often leads to other people, particularly if they feel as though they have minority opinions, staying quiet and failing to share their point of view. A leader armed with quality facilitation skills, however, can help the group overcome this dynamic.
They can encourage participation from all members of the team and let them feel as though all voices are valued and heard. This encourages people to contribute more readily with the sharing of divergent ideas. The conversation becomes more productive, as the group provides everyone with space for speaking. The leader can also guide the group towards active and respectful listening.
Over 99% of workers report that they want to be part of a company that values honest and open communication, and more than a third report wanting to be in a group that places importance on teamwork. Employees themselves recognize the importance of working with teams where people can freely share their ideas and work together to find solutions and opportunities. Nurturing this type of environment with quality facilitator skills can help all of these employees feel more content at work.
Beginning to foster this type of environment during employee training and seminars helps to create this momentum within the wider company culture.
As all the team members feel as though their ideas are valued, they become more loyal to the team and the group decision. Not only are the team members able to create a more productive discussion to solve their problem, but they can also improve their willingness to put in the work to implement the solution.
5. Improve problem-solving and creativity in the group
As more members of the group feel ready and willing to speak up and participate in the group discussions, the team will experience a greater exchange of ideas. They will find themselves looking at problems in new ways and challenging their traditional thinking. Those who might have uncommon or unpopular opinions will feel secure enough to voice their thoughts and the group might find itself more prepared for possible problems, thus enhancing their ability to solve them.
When teams cannot communicate, they run the risk of failing to notice potential problems and preventable failures. 86% of employees believe that poor communication results in workplace failures. When teams learn to work together better, they can help prevent many of these issues.
When problems do occur, these new voices and the free exchange of ideas can also encourage the development of original problem-solving strategies. They might find themselves coming up with a new potential solution that had not previously been tried. By incorporating these unique ideas, the team might find that they can increase their effectiveness and efficiency.
The team that encourages open communication will also be better equipped to find new opportunities that arise. The brands that innovate, find new paths forward, uncover new ways to serve customers, and build their brand loyalty are those willing to think outside the proverbial box and willing to take chances. The fresh exchange of ideas encourages these teams to take these types of risks and explore the resolutions that can lead to the uncovering of innovative opportunities.
Facilitating skills can therefore encourage creativity and innovation within the group. The team will be increasingly empowered to find untrodden paths that can benefit the entire organization as a whole.
6. Reduce the stress experienced by those involved
Poor communication and inefficient meetings can quickly become a source of stress for everyone involved. When people feel as though their voices and ideas are not heard and do not matter to the group, they tend to feel an increase of negative emotions about projects and even the other people in the group.
Stress is also a pressing problem for workplaces. A quarter of people have reported that their workplace stress is the major source of stress in their lives. This worry and anxiety are correlated closely with health problems, including coronary events and heart attack. Additionally, in the US the problem results in a loss of $300 billion annually and is responsible for more than a million workers absent from work on a given day. Finding ways to reduce employee stress will help improve productivity and the mental health of employees.
Stress also remains a problem in the academic world. Eighty% of university students have reported feeling stressed with more than a third also reporting depression. Finding ways to improve student mental health during studies can benefit everyone.
Unproductive team meetings can lead to bickering and increase negative relationships between everyone within the group. Higher levels of stress at work also correlate with poor work performance and high employee turnover, damaging the company as a whole.
Instead, working with a team that focuses on using facilitation skills to improve the productivity of groups and encourage people to feel heard and find common solutions within their conversions helps lower the stress levels of all involved.
The stress will further be lowered because the team meetings will accomplish their goal more efficiently and productively. This therefore lessens the amount of time that the group needs to spend in the meetings altogether. As they have more time to accomplish their typical tasks and responsibilities, the team members will feel less of a time crunch while they work on their job.
The key to building facilitation skills
The central component in nurturing a work environment that takes advantage of these benefits lies in encouraging facilitator skills. These skills will help leaders improve their ability to guide and encourage their teams so that they can begin to improve their workplace culture and find opportunities to excel.