Like many things, facilitation is a learned skill. It takes practice and experience to learn to remain neutral, keep track of multiple lines of thought and conversation, take accurate notes, and ask questions that stimulate thinking. Several teachers on facilitation break down the skill into four levels, which are shared below.
Level One: Introductory
At this level, a facilitator is able to apply understanding of the idea of facilitation. They may be a facilitative leader already. The application of skills like active listening, questioning, and managing time is complemented by encouraging participation, keeping accurate notes, problem solving, and action planning.
Level Two: Growing
Once you have some experience at gaining consensus within groups you work with, and you have seen the success of sustainable agreements and completed action plans, you continue to grow. At this stage, you will be:
- Understanding additional process tools that are well matched to the matters being considered
- Increasing your skill by using the most effective decision making and process tools
- Skillfully challenging assumptions
- Setting measureable goals
- Using surveys at the end of facilitation
Level Three: Skilled
At this level, you are competently able to handle feedback and manage conflict (even to that state of agreeing to disagree, or simply having civilized disagreements). You can implement design changes, offer intervention, and apply your knowledge of the group’s developmental stage to work toward consensus. You are able to use higher level tools, design your own surveys, and create comprehensive summaries and reports for members of the group and stakeholders.
Level Four: Advanced
At this stage, you have had experience with many different groups and dynamics. You are able to facilitate for complex organizational issues, you use the full range of tools in the facilitator’s toolkit, and the feedback from your sessions is that you are providing support and facilitating at a level with top facilitators.