By Linda DeLuca, Executive Coach – The value of your leadership team’s time is more precious than ever in this time-starved, highly competitive world. You may be tempted to forgo the off-site strategic planning exercise in favor of an in-house, self facilitated meeting to save money . . . that would be a mistake. An outside facilitator can help create a strategic plan that has the buy-in of your team and the critical elements of successful implementation.
Benefits of an Outside Facilitator
It’s important to involve the right people in the process. That includes all fearless leaders within your organization. With an outside facilitator, all leadership team members have a seat at the table and are able to participate fully. No one person needs to attempt to balance between participating and facilitating.
No one opinion should dominate the discussion. An outside facilitator is unbiased, keeping the discussion balanced between all members. She recognizes the usually dominant voices and skillfully facilitates the discussion, making sure everyone has a voice.
Everyone will be held to the same expectations. Your impartial and objective facilitator evens the playing field. When a skilled facilitator is involved, your team will experience increased adherence to commitments. The simple act of making commitments to an external party increases the chances of staying accountable.
Your outside facilitator has years of experience with, and knowledge of, human behavior. She will be able to navigate the usually sticky, complex, or contentious topics. Often, it’s with asking the right questions of the right people. She’ll acknowledge the strong emotions and opinions, while keeping the discussion professional and focused.
When you select an outside facilitator, you gain not only their skills but their experience. At Transcend, we know what works and what doesn’t. We can share those best practices with you.
How to Recognize You’re Ready for an Outside Facilitator
When you want to participate yourself.
Face it, you can’t participate fully and facilitate at the same time. No matter your role in the organization, you need to contribute. Do you, as the CEO/President want to fully participate in the strategic planning discussion?
The group must address sensitive issues.
Only an outsider can facilitate intense emotions in a constructive, problem-solving session. Are you currently experiencing tension or conflict among your team? Are there strategic planning topics that may stir strong emotions or opinions?
When your team is stuck.
A skilled facilitator is trained in observing the dynamics of the group and identifying dysfunctional behavior. Therefore, she can recognize the sensitivity of an issue and raise the conversation and the team to a new level of functioning. Does your team discuss the same issues over and over without resolution?
If you are eager to create a winning strategic plan with input and buy-in from your team, now is the right time to engage an outside facilitator. Don’t underestimate the need for skillful facilitation—great facilitators are like jungle guides who know the destination, the landscape they’re traversing, the strengths and weaknesses of the people they’re guiding, and how to keep things moving.