Recently, a person who has become a coach, when I had explained that I was also a facilitator, asked me: “And what exactly does a facilitator do?” I was surprised. The profession is not as well known as I thought.

The word ‘facilitator’ causes difficulties. Facilitate what? Is it to do with facilities management?

What I facilitate, what I help people to achieve with the methodologies I use, is the resolution of their performance problems.

Sending people to outdoor teambuilding training courses, or conflict resolution courses, when poor performance is a product of not sharing expectations or perceptions, or of not negotiating roles, will not necessarily work.

In a conventional training course, that has a previously determined learning input, these performance issues do not usually come to light, and even less in a systematic and orderly manner. There we ask people to learn skills and hope they will be able to solve their problems.

Another word often used is ‘mediator’. This is one used more in the Social Services or by psychologists.

For me, it does not adequately reflect the idea that I need to achieve – that is what I get paid for – performance improvement, a result evaluated precisely by the following question in the action plan produced by the participants: “How will we know we have been successful?”

It is true, in the same way a mediator is, that I am not interested in the “What,” that is, the content of what the participants are talking about. I am only interested in the “How,” that is, that the methodology is strictly followed to reach a conclusion mutually satisfactory to all parts in the discussion.

As a facilitator, I organise and carry out interventions, not training courses, where there is preparation on the part of the participants and methodology on my part. Facilitated interventions are not skill-acquisition workshops.

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