All About Group and Team Facilitation

Sections of this topic

    Sections on This Topic Include

    Understanding Facilitation

    Facilitation as a Service

    Core Skills for Facilitators

    Types of Groups and Applications

    Doing Facilitation

    Business of Facilitation

    General Resources

    Also, consider

    Also see

    Understanding Facilitation

    What is Facilitation?

    Facilitation is the nature of the activities to run a meeting, including planning, design, implementation and evaluation of the meeting. The activities can be done in an explicit and systematic manner or in an implicit, organic and unfolding nature, depending on the nature and needs of participants. Facilitation can be driven by an external role that is dedicated to facilitation (a facilitator) or by the group members themselves.

    What is facilitation? (and Core Values of Facilitation)

    What Does a Facilitator Do?

    Simply put, the role of the facilitator (in the context of personal, professional and organizational development) is to guide and support a group to get clear on the results they want to accomplish
    and what methods they might use accomplish those results. The facilitator might also guide and support the group to actually implement those methods, and even evaluate the implementation and results. The results and methods and the nature of how the facilitator works with group members depend on the situation. For example, the facilitator might work in a rather direct role, making prominent suggestions of what the group should do and how to do it. Or, the facilitator might work in a more indirect role by gently noting what the group might do and how to do it. The following resources give more detailed descriptions of facilitation, including suggesting various roles that facilitators might play.

    Facilitation as a Service

    Test – How Good Are Your Facilitation Skills Now?

    Before reading more in this topic, you might get an impression of your own skills here.

    Facilitator Self-Assessment Checklist

    So, based on the results of the test, what do you want to improve? Consider the guidelines in the rest of this topic.

    How Do You Recognize a High-Quality Facilitator?

    Facilitation is usually not an activity that follows a standardized, specific procedure. So it’s not an activity that many people can quickly ascertain as being done well or not. However, like many services that work to guide and support others toward improvement, there usually is a set of knowledge and skills that most people agree is necessary to be highly competent. The following links suggest certain expertise, and an upcoming section provides a more detailed list.

    Would You Benefit From a Facilitator? What Would It Cost?

    Core Skills of a Facilitator

    Whatever one’s beliefs about the best nature of facilitation, the practice usually is best carried out by someone who has strong knowledge and skills regarding group dynamics and processes — these are often referred to as process skills. Effective facilitation might also involve strong knowledge and skills about the particular topic or content that the group is addressing in order to reach its goals — these are often referred to as content skills. The argument about how much “process versus content” skills are required by facilitators in certain applications is a very constructive argument that has gone on for years. The following skills are important for facilitators regardless of the type of group or application (groups and applications are listed next in this topic).

    Core Interpersonal Skills for Facilitators

    Although facilitators work primarily with groups, those groups are comprised of individuals. A good facilitator needs strong expertise in working with individuals as well as groups. The following list includes skills that would be very useful for a facilitator to have.

    Core Group Skills for Facilitators

    Although facilitators work primarily with groups, those groups are comprised of individuals. A good facilitator needs strong expertise in working with individuals as well as groups. The following list includes skills that would be very useful for a facilitator to have.

    Types of Groups and Applications

    Common Types of Groups

    There are many types of groups. The following list is to some of the most common. Facilitators should be familiar with purposes and processes used in at least the first grouping of links. The second grouping is becoming common as facilitators work in organizations to guide and support change.

    Popular Group Applications and Activities

    The following list includes many of the most common applications, or purposes of groups, and suggests many of the types of activities in them. Good facilitators will be familiar with the purposes and processes in most of the following.

    Doing Facilitation

    Preparing to Facilitate

    It’s difficult to facilitate — to help group members decide the purpose of their group and how to work toward that purpose — unless you clearly are ready to facilitate. The following article will help you.

    Ice Breakers and Warmup Activities

    Ice breakers and warmup activities help group members to more quickly become comfortable around each other. They’re useful in almost any type of group, especially where members do not already know each other well.

    Basic Tips for Successful Facilitation

    The basic tips in this section are for people who do not seek an in-depth understanding of facilitation, rather they have a few applications in which they would like to facilitate groups.

    Facilitating Face-to-Face

    Facilitating Online Groups

    The ability to facilitate virtual groups — groups where members use telecommunications to communicate with each other — is increasingly an important skills for facilitators.

    Roberts Rules?

    Roberts Rules is comprehensive a set of specific rules by which members of meetings can conduct their meeting process in a very orderly fashion, thereby helping to ensure that members get the most out of meetings. These rules are usually used in very formal meetings, for example, meetings of Boards of Directors. A facilitator is not likely to need expertise in the rules unless his/her clients specifically have adopted them as the procedures to run their meetings. Facilitators can become highly skilled in the set of rules and achieve the status of registered Parliamentarians.

    Staying Centered During Facilitation

    It can be quite a challenge for a facilitator to work with a diverse group of people, sometimes under high-pressure situations, to get clear on what they want to do and how to do it. A good facilitator is not easily unsettled — the facilitator does not take challenges and conflicts personally. The following links are to resources that can help the facilitator to stay centered — grounded in the type of person that he or she wants to be when facilitating. Be sure to also review some of the resources in the earlier topics Core Interpersonal Skills for Facilitators and Core Group Skills for Facilitators.

    Business of Facilitation

    Professionalism and Ethics

    Although some of the following links refer to consulting, the guidelines in the resources also apply to practitioners who do facilitating.


    Starting a Facilitation Business

    This subtopic assumes that you already have some expertise in facilitation as described in this overall Library topic, and that you also are thinking about starting a business to be a professional facilitator. The guidelines in this subtopic are focused on helping you to start a new organization, expand a current organization, or start a new service.

    Are You Really an Entrepreneur?

    Starting a New Organization?

    Planning Your New Organization

    Deciding the Legal Structure of Your New Organization

    U.S. Enterprise Law — Forming Organizations

    Or Expanding a Current Organization?

    Business Development

    Or Starting a New Product or Service?

    Product Development

    Marketing Your Organization, Product or Service

    Getting and Keeping Clients

    Getting Paid

    Dealing With Clients

    When to Bail from a Project

    When to Bail from a Consulting Project

    Minimizing Risk

    General Resources

    Various Organizations About Facilitation and With Many Resources

    Many of the following organizations also have websites that list many free resources about facilitation.



    Free Facilitation Tools

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Facilitation

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Facilitation. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    For the Category of Facilitation and Teams:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.