So much of what we do these days is online. Even school children spent some time doing their schooling online during Covid. Is this an advantage, or is it a disadvantage?
Considering we are social beings, spending our learning time online may not be an advantage. Yes, it is convenient as a huge time saver, and likely a cost saver too. But it is so much less likely we will truly engage when we can “hide” behind our screens.
On the other hand, close to three years of social distancing means most of us are familiar and may even prefer our virtual lifestyle. Many work virtually, meet virtually, socialize virtually, and even date virtually. But is it the same as face-to-face?
Facilitation Led Training
At X5 Management, we pride ourselves on the many training courses we offer. Our trainers are certified, and experienced facilitators, who love engaging their participants as much as they love the training aspect. Nothing says effective training better than engaging the participants.
According to the University of Washington, research has demonstrated that engaging students in the learning process increases attention and focus. That elevates motivation and increases the opportunity for better learning. Active learning is an instructional approach in which students actively participate in the learning process, as opposed to sitting quietly and listening. Strategies include, but are not limited to, question-and-answer sessions, discussions, interaction (where students get to answer facilitator-led questions), hands-on activities, and smaller round table discussions and assignments.
Although not impossible, engaging students to the same extent becomes an obstacle when a facilitator does not really know if the student is listening, or following along online. Engagement is difficult to observe, and often cameras are turned off. If they are participating from a home office, students can become distracted from their surroundings given pets, doorbells, or phones ringing.
Unsure of what facilitation means for your business? Learn more about it here!
What is Engagement?
According to Media Psychology, engagement is defined as “an ongoing emotional, cognitive, and behavioral activation state in individuals.” On the business side, and according to Brian Solis of Salesforce, engagement is defined as “the interaction between a consumer or stakeholder and an organization. It is measured as the takeaway value, sentiment and actions that follow the exchange.”
Neither explanation is overly comprehensive, as it relates to training, but essentially a facilitator’s role is to motivate a reaction toward the learning, and in turn time goes quickly, participants feel positive, and admit to being able to takeaway valuable information, or learning.
“It’s that engagement of learning that makes us feel alive” –
The Top 10 Characteristics of an Excellent Facilitator (Facilitation First)
1. Effective Communication Skills – It is not only about speaking comfortably in front of a group, but also keeping the message simple and concise by paraphrasing, summarizing, and communicating back key themes.
2. Open to Change – This means being flexible and not dead-set on the process plan that was designed, whether that mean changing the structure to include more interaction or energizing exercises.
3. Keen Observation Skills – Picking up on small gestures, glances, facial expressions, or body language can suggest reactions or opinions. Understanding what may really be going on in peoples’ minds should influence the facilitation.
4. Demonstrates Unwavering Positivity – Being optimistic and positive will ensure the focus is on the material, and not the presenter, as well as demonstrate the need to consider information from a positive side, rather than what is not ideal.
5. Authentic – It is easier to connect with others when we are ourselves, and that results in a more successful and consistent facilitation, avoiding mixed messages and instead, encouraging a more trusting bond.
6. Maintains Constant Neutrality – A Facilitator should always be neutral and treat everyone as equals, regardless of personality types, personal opinions, or biases. This requires learning through training and practice.
7. Energetic Personality – A Facilitator’s role is to maintain an energetic pace that can help heighten the excitement for group work, brainstorming or general participation. This energy can also help avoid or minimize tension between participants.
8. Promotes Constructive Feedback – To ensure others do not cave into one person’s ideas, a Facilitator can pose questions to help everyone think more broadly, as well as reflect on ideas and offer feedback.
9. Asks Versus Tells – The art of asking questions, rather than telling, will encourage others to come up with their own ideas and responses. A Facilitator need only throw out suggestions if the group gets stuck.
10. Patient – Last but not least, staying patient during Facilitation is critical for a class to be successful. Showing frustration or anger is not productive, and a Facilitator should be able to change the process or questions to help the group if engagement is not apparent.
There are other characteristics, too, and for the sake of this article the list is long enough. A Facilitator can consider highlighting a Code of Conduct prior to beginning the training and this sets some ground rules right at the outset. This becomes a preventive measure so the participants can focus on learning, and not spend time on distractions such as meetings within the meeting, loud participants, phones ringing, ongoing text messaging, or a multitude of other common distractions.
What Courses do Best as Facilitation Led?
At X5 Management, we challenge that almost all courses that require interactive learning, group discussions, role-playing and Q and A are most effective when led by a qualified and certified Facilitator.
These X5 Courses currently include:
- Communication Training
- Leadership Training
- Management Training
- Team Development Training
- Customer Service Training
- Emotional Intelligence Training
- Meeting Leadership Training
- Project Management Training (TBA)
- Change Management Training (TBA)
- Problem Solving Training (TBA)
- Employee Engagement Training (TBA)
- Indispensable Accountability Training (TBA)
- Managing Teams Training (TBA)
The majority of these training solutions can be subsidized by the Canada-Alberta Job Grant! Learn more about it here!
When business needs to produce collective results from every employee, training is the first step to enhance the overall learning, and therefore performance, of teams, and leaders, at all levels. X5 Management Training Solutions will help businesses to improve communication, teamwork, customer service, sales growth, and leadership development.
“Enhance your employee’s ongoing performance by turning their soft skills into hard assets for your organization”.
– Mike Mack