Facilitation Outside of the Meeting Room

June 5, 2018 5:07 pm

At the start of our workshops, during sales calls, and in conversation with professionals I hear this all the time, “sure, most meetings could be more productive and collaborative, but I don’t lead that many meetings.” While I’ve argued in the past that process facilitation skills can be used by meeting participants as well as leaders, this article goes even further and takes process facilitation skills out of the meeting room and into any of your outcomes-driven conversations.

Which Skills? When?

A lot of workplace conversations can become more productive and have greater impact when we take the time to consider why we’re about to have a conversation, what we want by the end of it, and how we’re going to achieve what we want. Here are just a few examples…

Example One: Client Call

You’ve been working with an internal client and reached a point where you have to clarify needs and reach agreement before moving forward with a time sensitive issue. Before you pick up the phone, you spend a few minutes to determine the POP:

  • Purpose: why you’re calling
  • Outcome: what you’re asking for
  • Process: how to guide the conversation to ensure a decision will be made

You’ve just used our POP technique to add focus and drive outcomes for an important call.

Example Two: Stalled Projects

Two of your direct reports just approached you in the hallway, saying they’ve had it, they just can’t move forward with a key initiative. You put them through three rounds of asking “why” until they uncover the root cause, then you ask what an end user would need to consider this problem solved. Now, instead of being stymied, they’re resolving their own issue and feel energized to tackle the work ahead.

You’ve just facilitated a simple problem-solving process that took less than 7 minutes and got your team back on track – without calling a meeting. Example Three: One-On-One Resistance

It’s one thing to use a little structure to guide everyday conversations with intent, but can we apply any intervention strategies in our workplace conversations?

Example Three: One-On-One Resistance

Here’s an example of our simple ‘redirect” used with a direct report who has been scheduling overlapping meetings:

  1. The Observation: I’ve noticed you left early from the last two feedback sessions we ran with HR.
  2. The Impact Statement: I’m concerned you won’t be able to capture their concerns adequately if you miss any more time with this group.
  3. The Redirect: I need you to schedule the final feedback sessions for times when you can commit to the entire session.

When used one-on-one this simple redirect often uncovers hidden issues. In this example ‘your concerns’ could include relatively surface issues such as time management or competing priorities, or something deeper such as worries about accountability for the success of the feedback sessions or dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics.

As you can see, the central tenets of facilitation can easily transfer out of the meeting room and into your everyday conversations at work.

Good luck – and let us know how we can help!


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Do you have a unique meeting challenge not covered by one of our blog posts? We’re always looking for different dilemmas to discuss in our articles!