Co-Facilitating: Research Essay
With the increase in complicacy in the work place or to handle the mounting work pressure, the art of facilitation has further modified to co-facilitation. It is a situation, where a group or organization or facilitators has a multiple parties to address. Recapitulating the principles of management it has always been said to avoid two bosses or more than one heads involved in one project or organization. But with changing time and the course of work the one sided polarity has gained much flexibility and more reason operate among the groups or teams.
To justify its worth as an advanced support system, the paper will discuss its presence and the operational area and a critical analysis of its advantages and disadvantages.
Support, self help and mutual understanding was already there in the group activities, but with the growing understanding it has unfolded the hidden risk of the entire group or team might getting stuck in an unprecedented event or situation.
This kind of situation is a cliché for organizations where managers can not stay in one location due to business tour; though the person is stationed in a particular location. In case of manager leaving the team assigning someone else in deputation, the team reacts reluctantly as they are not accustomed with the acting leader and have limited experience in terms of team work (MG Rush 2009). Facilitation has been widely mistaken as the mundane leadership practice as planning, decision making, staffing, and presentation and so on. But a much innovative practice has appeared where the group or the team engage themselves in the perpetual evolution of the leadership to ensure a smooth functioning during any transition from support point of view. The anatomy of this back up support is further discussed in the concept of co-facilitation (Ontario Self-Help Network 2000).
Critically analyzed, the anatomy reveals the changed concept of the management rules. The limitations of having one leader or manager for a team have already been projected by the paper. By the virtue of comprehension of the above situation; it becomes clear that with the changing time the situation changes leading to exception to rules. This is the core concept of the co-facilitation where “two heads are better than one” by creating a team of more than one facilitators or managers to manage and support the group or the team assigned to them. The most important investment for this set up is the time devoted to the co-facilitators. It can fetch the group a plethora of facilities that can lead the group with equal fidelity through high and low of time (Impact Factory 2009).
It provides innovative idea to prepare the group.
It exposes the group to better practicality as it gets the hands of better experienced facilitators.
During the moment of crisis; the group receives more support and energy to boost its confidence to surmount the same.
Among the multiple facilitators; the lead facilitator provides special support, when a discussion demands his intense personal involvement.
It is important to understand that multiple facilitators can bring more potentiality in the group without getting exhausted by the workload as they can divide the spearheading activities (Lakey 1982, p10).
In co-facilitation the first step is to divide it into two broad sets of skill that is the vibe watching and process observation. In the vibe watching the facilitator needs to watch out for the emotional ambiance of the group, which includes body language; such as yawning, dozing off, sagging, fidgeting and leaving suddenly. They need to look for the facial expressions to note the status whether actively present or “zoned out” and to bring attention back by proposing the need for breaks to boost the energy level (Lakey 1982, p7). The task of the process observer is rather catching the interactive movements and communication in the group. As a co-facilitator, the person isolates from the group to observe the ways the group participates, who speaks to whom, whose leadership flawless, etc. with extreme sensitivity and outmost tact the process observer can provide feedback on the movement of the group. But it is possible only after a mutual understanding and agreement with the group with a critical pre-attention to aspects like side conversations and interruptions, decision making steps and procedures, the quality of listening and group participation, way conflict is resolved, and the trend of the group operation; in a situation relaxed or tensed (Lakey, 1982, p9).
A concept so useful but complex to handle the complexity of highly systematic work process and projects will certainly have its advantages and disadvantages. In situation like seminar, workshop, or presentation having more than one head is always better, for to lead the seminar or meeting there has to be a lead facilitator who spearheads the main requirement and the co-facilitator to handle the other issue that might come up as the result of the main program. The need of this arrangement becomes vivid; when someone tries to take over the event of the original person holding it. Thus, the presence of co-facilitator can be beneficial for both facilitators and group.
Advantages of co-facilitation:
Leveraging on strength: Her the process let the lead person to present the event or the workshop while the other person or the facilitator tackles the partners while observing and supporting the group. Facilitators can delegate the duties as per their expertise and have the chance to present under the spotlight with maximum effects.
Save energy: As presentation is tiring for both the facilitator and the participant, the concept of co-facilitating can divide the stress among the partners. It can also create a blend of different style and version in a single presentation associated with a spirit of different level of energy. This change in the presentation style helps the participant to get a grip on the attention of the group; giving the facilitators chance to perform while being at ease.
Versatility in resources: Even a person is highly educated, talented and skilled; but it is accepted that every one has his or her specialty. A team effort facilitates each person to contribute his or her best of brain and inputs. This again helps in leveraging the resources at the maximum.
Extra observation: More than one facilitator can manage a group better as the second person can keep a tab on the reaction of the participant and can relate whether the group is absorbing the output given. When the part participants form clusters get engaged in group discussion, the co-facilitators can distribute the materials assist the groups monitoring the overall discussion. Co-facilitators can even help out the issues of physical movement like, latecomers and co-coordinating them.
Support system: Things can get haywire if jobs do not work out well, failure of plan, or a delivery of bad lecture. At these times of peril the co-facilitators play their role of smoothing the situation by tendering supportive hands. To look at the other side of the coin, the supportive behavior and the mutual respect among the co-facilitators set an example of a real team work, where together they enjoy the success and together they rescue from the failure (Davis 2009).
In some texts the disadvantages of co-facilitation has been discussed very briefly against the possible advantages of it. But to analyze the position critically; there are potential disadvantages of this concept too. Again as per research findings it is suggested that these difficulties can be resolved by the co-facilitators’ finding and understanding of their working relationship and the level of effectiveness. Still, it has the strength to make it identified as advantageous for it deals the odd situations where both the group and the facilitators can be benefited. But to evaluate pondering on the disadvantages is also needed.
Disadvantages of co-facilitation:
Unequal work allotment: While co-facilitating; one partner might develop the tendency to rely heavily upon the other partner or partners to undertake all the critical activities in the group. This habit can create a loss of balance among the facilitators, where one will be overly immersed handling situation and others can be at the under professional pressure. Though this kind of work allotment is justified depending on the kind or type of situation, or the capabilities of the facilitators, but becoming regular in this habit without any mutual understanding; certainly raise a concern about it. This attitude in the work may mark the facilitators to be hard or soft encouraging the group to consider the entire process to be stereotype.
Noise in communication: This happens when facilitators have different attitude and opinion towards the same work. This creates difficulties and misunderstanding among the facilitators and most importantly casts a negative effect on the group. They feel miss leaded and eventually lose interest from the agenda. This can tumble down a far reaching progress that have been built by the group with all effort paid by the facilitators.
Competition: The above mentioned different in work style can shoot up a competition among the facilitators. Instead of giving a joint effort they may rather focus on particular issues that can highlight the present of each facilitator. As a result of this the group in return may incline to one particular facilitator to keep the effect of the competition at bay. But finally the group suffers due to loss of co-facilitation.
Improper modeling: while competing; facilitators can develop a closed mentality to each other, which may further development destructive operation model or strategy in their interpersonal communication. Applying this kind of model on the group will be detrimental and will only serve their purpose but supporting the group activities.
Over facilitation: It is about the over indulgent of the facilitators in the group activity. If the facilitators increase their intervention in the group; automatically the group members will be lack of space to execute their own skill on the matter of concern. This way a kind of support can restrict the growth of a group rather than increasing the group efficiency. This can be the product of the competition among the facilitators to overshadow each other in terms of quality and quantity of interventions.
After identifying and exploring the potential disadvantages of co-facilitation, I can be easier now to avoid the worst hidden effects of this concept. The key to its concept exists in the keen attention on the relation of the participants with facilitators (Knight and Scott 1997). While initiating the potentiality of the disadvantage, the paper has pointed on the transit of this discussion. It has been stressed on the fact of the tackling power of this concept during the odd hours and the complicated anatomy of the present business landscape.
The use of co-facilitation has been uniquely claimed by Martin that the use of two records drawn up and the observation of the group outcome are suggested to help the group again to articulate their understanding. This can be done by the technique of the mind mapping where different segments of the map can be used to concentrate on single agenda event. This method can point out with its arrows around to show the interlinks among the different agendas (Hogan 2003).
The mind map technique can make a situation lucid to the observer or the person assessing the outcome of the given agenda. Like depicted in the given figure, the group and the facilitators
(Government) participating on the agenda of economic development, where the individual stands are being shown at their extremity and polarity, making it clearer about the progress or the movements (Asian Environmental Scenarios. 1999). Though the above explanation is very brief in against of its original context, but the overall approach of the mind mapping and co-facilitation is simply unavoidable in present business day approach.
Ontario Self-Help Network/Self-Help Resource Centre. 2000. The Shared Leadership Workbook. Toronto: Ontario Self-Help Network.
Lakey, B. 1982. Meeting Facilitation: The No Magic Method. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.
Davis, Steve. 2009. Relating Skill. Master Facilitator Journal 0382. http://www.masterfacilitatorjournal.com/archives/skill382.html (accessed March 31, 2009).
Knight, Joanna. and Scott, Warren. 1997. Co-facilitation: A Practical Guide to Using Partnerships in Facilitation. Kogan Page Publishers.
Hogan, Christine. 2003. Practical facilitation: a toolkit of techniques. Kogan Page Publishers.
Asian Environmental Scenarios. 1999. Asian Environmental Scenarios Roundtable. The nautilus institute. http://www.nautilus.org/archives/enviro/scenarios_geneva.html (accessed April 1, 2009).
MG Rush. 2009. Facilitation for Project Managers. http://www.mgrush.com/
Impact Factory. 2009. Facilitation and Meetings Skills. http://www.impactfactory.com/p/facilitation_skills_training_development/issues_1521-2103-7972.html
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