Construction teams need great facilitation

I couldn’t believe he was losing the room after only 10 minutes. It was like watching a substitute teacher melt down in front of a group of high schoolers. It quickly became a cluster of side conversations among the 15 people; the volume growing louder by the minute. When the meeting leader spoke, “Ok, let’s get back together, now…” the request fell on deaf ears (or deafened ears, given the volume).

It wasn’t his fault – he was new to the project and he obviously had no training in facilitating construction teams. But it was his responsibility.

We’ve all been in meetings that fail to achieve their purpose and waste time and resources. And we all know we have too many meetings. I shudder when a project manager tells me she’s “triple booked” all day.

We don’t expect an apprentice carpenter to have the skills of a journeyman. And we shouldn’t expect everyone designated the “meeting leader” to be a good facilitator. Both carpentry and facilitation take knowledge, skill and practice.

This is the first of a series of short blog posts to engage the design and construction community in awareness of the need for good facilitation skills and the desire to learn them and practice them in every gathering. (I could say “formal gathering” but I use my facilitation skills in impromptu meetings in the hallway, too.)

This writer is a Certified Master Facilitator® (CMF), the highest certification available in the industry by the International Institute for Facilitation (INIFAC.org). It means I’ve demonstrated the experience, knowledge and skills in a certification process that assessed me against a rigorous set of competencies.  And I’ve requalified often enough to now hold a lifetime certification.

I’ve been working in the built environment over 46 years. Been in a lot of meetings; led my share. I offer these qualifications to establish credibility as a mentor in facilitation.

In coming installments, we’ll share the kinds of competencies, knowledge, stories and tips that can help each of us improve at facilitating meetings. I hope you’re along for the ride.

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