“Why on earth would I let someone else chair MY management meeting? That’s my job.”
We understand. And most of the time we entirely agree. After all, meetings are one of the core tools that managers use to make things happen.
Sometimes an outsider can make a difference. Why?
- Leading a meeting requires planning, time management, assessment of the likely group dynamics, and more. Most meeting leaders don’t fall asleep! If you want to contribute and guide the outcome as well, something has to give. Split the roles so each is done better.
- Often, the leader of the group wants to lead the group towards a particular outcome, maybe in conflict with the group’s prior thinking. You can’t take sides and be an impartial chairperson at the same time. An impartial chair lets the leader be forceful and effective.
- Meeting facilitation requires special skills. Many people do it well. But it is unusual for it to be the attribute that got the manager their job. A professional facilitator will get a better outcome than someone whose skills lie elsewhere, or who rarely leads meetings.
- Outsiders don’t know your organisation and its unique features. Often this is a weakness. But it’s a great strength when it lets the facilitator focus on the outcomes rather than the detail.
Many facilitators take pride in being low impact – making it all happen without anyone noticing.
We are happy to do this, because this is often so important.
But we specialise in doing more, when required. Our facilitation emphasises the importance of understanding the issues being discussed at the meeting. We spend time with clients before the meeting finding out the background and exploring paths the meeting might take. Once the curtains rise, we can then do much more than just chair the meeting. For instance:
- We bring skills in rigorous analysis. If you want outcomes rather than discussion, this is vital.
- We can confront without offending (usually!). The cop out for most facilitators is to get the group to put someone right. We use gentle, and often persistent, questioning to challenge propositions. Often this produces big breakthroughs, not least when the leader is involved. Of course, we work hard to ensure we heighten the intensity, not the emotion.
- We bring creative thinking techniques to meetings that require imaginative solutions.
- We have a toolkit of meeting circuit breakers which are tried and tested for situations when things have hit a blockage.
Choosing a facilitator for a meeting might make the difference between achieving the outcome and not achieving it. Is it worth it? All we can suggest is that you ask this question before the meeting, not after.