Group and team facilitation

Group facilitation

Skilled group facilitation can literally transform the outcomes and the experience of all manner of meetings and assemblies, teamwork, and structured programmes of learning. Yet, despite its effectiveness and added value, this is still an underused group and team development tool. Instead, too many meetings and gatherings suffer poor ‘chairing’ and group process, which so often leads to disengagement, frustration and a sense of time not well spent.

The widespread use of group facilitation in the corporate context began in the 1980’s when a growing number of organisations became aware that there are better ways to run meetings and away-day off-site workshops. External facilitators were brought in and very quickly these organisations saw the value of creating internal capacity and invested in the training and development of their own internal consultants.

Improve group and team effectiveness

  • Group facilitation has been used to improve leadership team meetings, project groups, departmental and functional teams, and continuous improvement initiatives.
  • It has also become increasingly used in the social and political sphere to assist conflict resolution, and peace and reconciliation processes.
  • It is used in community forums, citizen’s assemblies and by local/national campaign groups. In fact, it’s harder to think of where skilled facilitation wouldn’t make a useful contribution than where it would.

The purpose of group facilitation is to

  • Improve the quality of communication, conversation, and interaction.
  • Help the group stay focused and on track.
  • Clarify its goals, methods, and purpose.
  • Produce quality thinking.
  • Resolve conflict.
  • Achieve its desired outcomes with the greatest possible levels of engagement, creativity and enjoyment.
  • Effective group facilitation can also bond a group more tightly together and cultivate a sense of community.

Build trust, create the conditions for safe sharing and sufficient support

Skilled facilitators seek to build trust, create the conditions for safe sharing and sufficient support, whilst simultaneously attending to the double task of both content and group process. They role model active listening, asking good questions, and the skilful and timely use of feedback. They need to be able to present information effectively, track issues, and appropriately use structured exercises as well as tools and techniques such as brainstorming. They also need to know when to depart from the stated, structured agenda and go off-piste to attend to emerging issues and group dynamics.

Internal or external facilitators?

The decision about whether to use internal or external facilitators is usually made around competence and budget. Can the facilitator re-assure the audience/client that they are sufficiently experienced and skilled to match the complexities the work requires, particularly where a high level of conflict exists.

At Courage and Spark, group facilitation is one of our core competencies. We bring nearly four decades of experience primarily in organisational contexts but also in community settings. We have also trained hundreds of internal and external group facilitators using our well-developed Gestalt-based methodology.

Please get in touch if you have a need for external group facilitation or to train your internals.

Team facilitation

The typical goals of team facilitation are to:

  • Improve the team as a unit/system (the whole)
  • Improve the relationships within the team
  • Improve the skills and competencies of individual team members
  • Improve the performance of the team

A team facilitator, or small group of facilitators, work with a team over a period of time delivering a series of team effectiveness workshops whilst also coaching the individual team members in parallel. Facilitated sessions between pairs or small groupings can also be a feature of this approach especially where conflict resolution is an important aspect of what’s needed.

Team facilitation from a vertical development lens

From a vertical development perspective, there are two additional goals, namely:

  • Transforming the level of development of the team whilst also supporting the vertical growth and development of the individual members. This is less about skills and competencies and more about self-awareness, integration, maturity and wisdom
  • And if it’s the executive leadership team, the additional agenda is the transformation of the organisational culture

Skill-sets and capacities that can be accelerated by team facilitation

During the team facilitation process, it becomes apparent which skill-sets and competencies vital for effective team functioning are well developed, and which are less developed.

Focused attention needs to be paid to improving these in order to properly equip the team to achieve high performance and raise their collective level of functioning. The most common of these tend to be:

These are all skills that facilitate self-awareness, empathy, deeper listening, better questions, and recognition of others. They also promote deeper self-reflection, emotional self-management and relationship building.

Teams who learn these skills together become more conscious of their team dynamics and more equipped to tune into one another’s needs with sensitivity and care. These skill-sets provide a team with a much-enhanced resource for dealing with conflict whilst also facilitating a higher level of collaborative behaviours.

At Courage and Spark, team facilitation is also one of our core competencies.

Please get in touch if you have a need for team facilitation or to train your internals.

Courage & Spark



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