The most important marketing information a company can gain typically comes from focus groups. Church growth also comes from the connections made in small groups and healthy emotions are strengthened in recovery with the use of small groups. In the business world, productivity is measured and increased via small teams focusing on critical functions. Yet with the incredible importance small groups have in our lives, few people understand how to facilitate a group’s success.
Last night I had the privilege of participating in a small group focused on facilitating small groups. It was enlightening to say the least. Not only did the program address each personality type so all participated in the discussion, but it also brought focus of vision and a team spirit through personal bonding exercises.
One of the most important points I learned about facilitation is the importance of knowing myself. By objectively understanding my personal hot buttons, style and tendencies, I can purposely counter any comments I might want to make that could steer the meeting in the wrong direction.
This became even clearer when our facilitator clarified that in a small group the number one goal is conversation. There are days when I fail at this simple task, as I hear a frustrated person share their pain that could easily be fixed with the right answer that I happen to know. During those times I struggle to keep my mouth shut and allow the person to talk through their issue long enough to come up with their own answer.
Respecting the other person and letting them take ownership of discovering their own solution is paramount to their growth. It also makes them a fisherman, rather than a hungry person who just ate the one fish I gave them to survive the moment. By empowering people to learn and manage their own growth, the team becomes stronger and more individuals rise to become strong leaders themselves.
Engaging participants in a deep conversation and allowing them to explore through each other’s experience and various viewpoints, helps them to take ownership of their role in the team and drives them to be the best they can be. It also provides clear information as to the health of the group and the needed direction the leader might want to steer them for greater success.
However, none of this is possible if the leader is driving their personal agenda or just wants to hear themselves speak. After all, true growth comes from the collaboration of ideas and experiences that are focused in the over all direction of the vision set forth.
A business team’s vision might be about altering processes to generate key savings. A church might want to encourage a discipline of prayer within their membership. A community group might desire a connection between the individuals so they can accomplish more with focused volunteers teaming together for the common good. Whatever the vision, it all starts with each individual taking responsibility for their area of focus, which is easily encouraged through small group conversations that share the strengths and weaknesses all face.
There were numerous key points taught last night, that we hopefully retained, but the one thing that became most clear was the bonding process that increased our respect for each other. The shear process, whether the vision was properly painted or not, was extremely useful in solidifying the team.
There was a new sense of closeness and anticipation in what we might do in 2012 that would bring our team’s success to an entirely new level. And, I can’t wait to reconnect with the team, as the open sharing of our strengths and weaknesses with respect, drew us closer to each other – All because the goal was conversation and not a linear agenda.