I have great pleasure to introduce the lovely Kirsty Lewis of the School of Facilitation as a guest blogger. She is an expert in facilitation and so I thought it would be cool if she gave us her take on what it means to be a facilitator rather than a trainer (the second of the 5 secrets of accelerated learning)
What is the difference between a trainer and a facilitator?
This was the questions posed to me by Krystyna Gadd earlier this week and it got me thinking, is there a difference? What is it? What are the different skills, behaviours even beliefs that the two roles have?
Here are some simple definitions:
A trainer =’a person who trains a person or an animal’
A facilitator = ‘a person who makes an action or process easier or easy’
Trainers often have more knowledge than the learner, have a pre-prepared agenda, hold a clear path to be followed, use exercises to enable the learners to connect with the content and grow their knowledge. There may be a test to check understanding
A facilitator is not a content or knowledge expert, they hold the space for the group to evolve and grow through a topic or question they are examining. A facilitator will know how to move a group through the decision-making processes, will enable problem solving and intervene when appropriate.
A quote I found suggests:
“A trainer brings the participants from unknown to known. A facilitator brings the participants from known to unknown.”
This resonated for me as there are times I am in training mode (when running coaching and sales workshops) and other times I am holding a space for a group to discover something new (at the SOF gatherings). Is there a space and place when we have both hats and they are interchangeable? In this day and age of learning, creating motivating and engaging events I believe there is a place for both capabilities.
I noticed I shifted inside when I started to facilitate. I learnt to trust the process I had designed. I listened to my intuition, the signals I received from the energy in the room to move the group. One of my biggest surprises was that I had to hold the outcomes lightly. No longer could I grasp these tightly in my hand and say this is what will happen. I have learnt to craft the sessions outcomes, use them as a guide and then let them go to hover in the space as the facilitated session unfolds.
Here are my thoughts about some of the skills, behaviours and beliefs for a facilitator:
- Creating a container that is safe, enables people to express their ideas and opinions, learn
- Fantastic questioning skills to create engagement and probe understanding
- Listen to what is and isn’t said
- Sense into the energy of the group to adjust, move or continue
- Innately understand people ie EQ
- Decent flipchart creations!
Behaviours & Beliefs
- Open and curious to what is
- A deep belief in what they do
- A passion for their role in the room
I think there are common skills, behaviours and beliefs that both roles share. If you are starting to shift your way of working and become more facilitative maybe think about what you already do as a trainer think about how you can transfer these into the new setting of facilitation.