Managing tasks in a group setting is a tactics which has become more widely used in the business environment. As our culture moves toward an increasingly post modern mindset which recognizes the individual talents which each individual possesses, organizational behavior is also moving away from forcing each individual to have a level of standardized knowledge. Each individual in the organization often has a level of expertise in a specific area which is not shared by others. Therefore the process of problem solving, and shepherding a complex task from start to finish often is more suitable to the abilities of a group than those of a single person.
The rate at which knowledge and segmented specialization is increasing is another factor leading toward increased use of groups and work teams in the work place. This process can be compared to the current practice in the medical field. Medical doctors often become specialists because of the complexity of the human body. As a result of the specialization, surgical specialists may each perform part of a delicate and complicated medical surgery, so that their unique talents and knowledge can be fully utilized. In the modern organization, which has placed increasing emphasis on knowledge management and individual competencies, members of the organization each come to the table with unique sets of talents, skills and abilities which may not be shared by others in the organization. Therefore the process of getting these individual members to work together is essential to the life and well-being of the organization.
However, there are also factors which work against effective creation and utilization of work groups and teams in the modern organization. First and foremost, the business world is framed by competition. Those who perform better, faster, and stronger are those who rise to the top of their field, position or profession. This ‘competition mindset’ is a learned behavior, which is often unnoticed by those who are fully engaged in a competitive culture. Thus, when the individuals come to the table in a work group setting, they come prepared to function in a competitive environment, rather than a cooperative one. Since competition has brought success in the past, the team members are uncomfortable / unfamiliar with the process that seeks success to come out of cooperative efforts.
Finally, when addressing higher level executive work groups, the issue of individual egos may also complicate the process. When members are brought to a work team because of their individual talents, the members expect to not only use their talents, but also will compete with other members for attention and recognition. The result of thus-defined work group is that members become focused on subconscious expectations, and the power dynamics of the group rather than focusing their talents on attaining the group’s goals. Rather than becoming a team, the group of individuals defeat themselves, and often spent great amounts of time, money, and energy while creating little in the way of substantial progress.
Group facilitation, therefore is a process in which a neutral person enters the potentially combustible dynamics to help a group work together more effectively. Facilitators often work with small groups of people in an organization. They can also work as a liaison with representatives of different organizations. The most beneficial skill which the facilitator can bring to the table is that he or she is not personally involved in the power dynamics of the group. As an outside person coming to the group with the assigned task of seeing the group function toward their own goals, the facilitator can focus on getting individuals to work together while the individuals can focus on using their skills to solve the problem at hand.
The facilitator may be a person who resides internal to the organization, or as a consultant who comedy in from external sources.
In either case, he or she must be a person who is perceived as both talented and neutral in order to be effective. The group members or stakeholders in the group’s outcome must all agree that the facilitator is an acceptable addition who will aid in attaint the group’s goals.
The facilitator is a process leader only. In order to maintain the effectiveness as a neutral facilitator, he or she should have no decision-making authority, nor should they contribute to the substance…