Elected Board Retreats

Facilitation Assistance

"The facilitator's main task is to help the group improve its effectiveness by improving its process."

--Roger Schwarz, The Skilled Facilitator

What a Facilitator Can Do

Individual experiences will vary, depending on situational dynamics, but the most common cited benefits of facilitation are to:

  • Help the group decide on objectives and agree on a process
  • Set a realistic agenda to meet those objectives
  • Establish roles for members
  • Keep the group on track
  • Openly and constructively discuss dynamics affecting the group's effectiveness
  • Assist with logistics

Essential Characteristics of Facilitator

The nature of the relationship you develop with a facilitator for a single event (one to two day annual retreat) is different than if you are contracting for longer term assistance (helping the group develop self-management skills). For either situation, however, it is essential that you choose someone that is:

  • Acceptable to all group members
  • Substantively neutral (unless you are specifically seeking content or process expertise)
  • No decision-making authority

Clarifying the Work

  • Basic assumptions and values
  • Use of ground rules or discussion guidelines
  • What the facilitator will and will not do
  • Experience and training
  • Cost
  • Deliverables (e.g., meeting notes or summary)

All of this should be documented in a simple contract, letter of agreement or memorandum of understanding so there is a written record of your mutual expectations.

Finding a Facilitator

Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles