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Facilitation: What, When, How, Who?

What is Facilitation?

Facilitation is the process of enabling and guiding a group of people to collaboratively determine and / or achieve their goals through the skills, attributes, methods and processes provided by the facilitator and those within the group. Facilitation ensures that groups benefit from what they both share and the diversity in what they each being to the group.

When can Facilitation be used?

Facilitation can be used to promote learning or achieve outcomes for a group:


Facilitation is an effective in learning because through facilitation, people to discover, experience and share together, creating new ways of thinking, and doing as a result. Skills, knowledge and attributes and attitudes can all be impacted using a facilitated approach to learning.

Achievement of Goals through Collaborative Group Processes

Facilitation is also used to assist in group processes such as:

  • Determining team values
  • Determining team outcomes
  • Evaluating
  • Planning
  • Creating ideas
  • Celebrating
  • Team building

Of course learning occurs within this context too, it is just not the primary goal.

Benefits of Facilitation

Facilitation provides an opportunity to maximise the range of behavioural and learning styles within a group: it allows the benefits of diversity to shine. In terms of motivation, the facilitated approach ensures that people feel as though they matter, it connects the group and as a whole the group contributes both to the group itself, to the process that it undertakes and the outcomes it creates. Members of the group can experience personal growth as a result.

In addition to the benefits for the group members, that which is produced through collaborative process has the potential to:

  • Positively impact team and workplace culture
  • Enhance and build on collective and individual learning
  • Produce outstanding results for the team and organisation
  • Produce tangible outcomes and results

 Qualities, Skills and Knowledge of a Facilitator


  • Energy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Optimism
  • Thick Skinned
  • Emotional Engagement
  • Motivation
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Seize opportunity
  • Think laterally
  • Seize opportunity
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Outstanding communication
  • Empathy
  • Curiosity
  • Relationship building
  • Objectivity
  • Responsiveness
  • Collaboration
  • Flexibility
  • Integrity
  • Trust in self, trust in group
  • Vision

Skills and Knowledge

  • Planning
  • Questioning
  • Needs assessment
  • Group dynamics
  • Processes and methods of facilitation and task completion
  • Conflict resolution
  • Facilitation tools
  • Change theory
  • Networking

From this list it is clear that similarly to effective leadership skills, the majority of the skills required to facilitate well are about how we behave and how we present.

These qualities, skills and knowledge have been informed by the following sources:

  1. The characteristics, qualities and skills of practice developers, Brendan Mccormack BSc, DPhil, PGCEA, RGN, RMN, Robert Garbett BN, MSc, RN, Journal of Clinical Nursing,Volume 12, Issue 3, pages 317–325, May 2003.
  2. Royal College of Nursing Facilitation Standards available 8.8.2013.
  3. International Association of Facilitators Core Facilitator Competencies. available 8.8.2013

The next part of this 2 part series will focus on how to develop facilitation skills.

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