In my early days as a facilitator, I was obsessive in my preparation – turning up to team development sessions with an array of handouts, power point presentations and flip charts. Now I arrive with a few notes on one side of A4.


Why is this?

I’ve learnt over the years, in order for a group to flourish, a hands-off facilitation approach works best. Instead of proffering advice and solutions to problems you allow people to come to their own conclusions.

A great example of a less is more approach is from Alex Ferguson, one of the most successful British football managers of all time. He led his team to win 38 trophies.

In 2001 when Manchester United were 3-0 down at half-time to Tottenham Hotspur, he entered the changing room, pulled up a chair and remained silent. After 10 minutes of talk from his team he just said, “I think you’ve got the answers, now go solve it”. Manchester United won the match 5-3.

Teams need time to reflect themselves. However, they can’t do this alone. Without an expert facilitator – group development sessions can often be frustrating and ineffective – often due to poor behaviour.

My job as the facilitator is to create an environment which is free from cynicism, rudeness, domination and detachment.

In order to speak freely people need to feel valued and respected.

There needs to be principles based on equity, where all are heard, and no one feels afraid that what they say will have adverse effects on them in the future.

As a facilitator you are not offering expertise in terms of advice and opinion – your expertise lies in creating an environment where people feel safe and confident to talk about problems and resolve issues themselves.


Top tips for somebody starting off with a less is more approach


1. Hold back as a facilitator: Don’t jump in and tell people what the problem is and how to solve it.

2. Make sure that everybody has a voice: Reassure the group that everyone will have a chance to speak not just the strong voices, therefore always factor in time for each person to contribute.

3. Get individuals to own the problem: Make sure that people speak about a problem from their own point of view, not on behalf of others. This gives a chance for real authenticity and ownership of a problem.

4. Agree and write up the principles which create safe environments: What will make all members feel valued, respected and heard?


Would you like to learn how to get your team to solve problems themselves?  I’d be delighted to help you improve your facilitation skills. Please get in touch and we can chat through your thoughts and challenges.