What to Look for in a Strategic Planning Facilitator

When selecting a professional to guide your strategic planning session, be selective. Facilitation is different from public speaking or training. It’s not about having solid content, good platform skills, or an understanding of adult learning principles. Instead, facilitation involves working with groups of people in the moment. The job requires being tuned in at all times to what’s happening and being able to suspend or change the process accordingly.

Look for the following characteristics:

  • An understanding of organizational issues (industry knowledge isn’t necessary)

  • Superb communications skills

  • Ability to offer insight and empathy while conducting himself with authority and credibility

  • Experience in running strategic management processes

  • Conflict management skills and confidence about handling conflict

  • Ability to help you clarify your outcomes and a commitment to helping you reach your desired outcomes

  • Honesty and fairness (Don’t look for total objectivity. Anyone worth using has opinions; you just want her to make a clear distinction between opinions and facts.)

  • Understanding of group process theory (A good facilitator is able to apply concepts such as leadership, group norms, team development, systems theory, dialogue, and experiential learning to the design and facilitation of your meeting.)

  • Logic, self-discipline, and the ability to operate systematically

  • A style that suits your organization

By using an experienced facilitator in the right situations, you almost certainly accomplish more in your meetings, delve deeper into critical issues, and then resolve them. Equally important, participants leave with positive feelings, stronger cohesiveness, a sense of accomplishment, and a renewed belief in the team. Overall, a facilitator helps you get the job done more quickly because his role is to move the process to conclusion.

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