On one of my first official team building gigs, I almost blew it. I designed an agenda to address the leaders needs but chose NOT to share it with the leader ahead of time. For some reason, I wanted the leader to experience the process fresh with the team. At the time, it seemed like a great idea.
When the workshop began, it didn’t take long before the leader jumped in to try and take us down a different path than I had planned. What I didn’t know at the time was her concern that we weren’t going to get to the output she wanted. After she did this twice, I had a side conversation with her and realized the issue. Then, I was able to explain my process to assure her we would accomplish her goals. It was a rocky start, and a lesson learned for me: Always collaborate with the leader prior to a session so that both leader and facilitator are clearly on the same page.
When facilitating a team building session, it is critical to align with the leader prior to the session.
In addition to the session content and process, it is important to coach the leader so that the two of you will be supporting each other throughout.
The time you spend connecting and aligning with the leader about their role in the meeting will be well worth it. A leader has a lot at stake by handing over their work to a facilitator, and the time and attention given prior to the session will strengthen their trust in you to guide them. When the leader trusts you (and vice versa) your odds of a highly successful meeting (and follow-up work) increases dramatically.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and Forward, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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