Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Making groups hummm

imagesI’m often asked to facilitate committees that are not functioning as well as they would like to be. This is often a result of the group having lost it’s sense of purpose, or common vision and not having clear guidelines to operate within.

When I reflect on the groups and committees I have been involved with over the years one comes to mind as being an exceptional group to work with. What was it about this group that made it exceptional?

  • It had a clear vision and purpose – we all knew what we where aiming for and were all on board with the vision.
  • The plan was produced inclusively and we followed through.
  • We all agreed on “how we will work together” and this framework guided our meetings and how we behaved outside of the meetings. This included simple items like starting and finishing time, reporting in, how we would communicate outside of meetings etc.
  • Roles and responsibilities were agreed upon, clearly understood and most importantly committed to.
  • The outcomes we were aiming for were clear, achievable and measurable.
  • It was fun!! I looked forward to my involvement with the group, we had a laugh at meetings and enjoyed each others company.
  • The group provided me with personal gains – personal skill building and networking.
  • Strong inclusive leadership
  • We celebrated our success – once we had reached our vision we celebrated what we had achieved and wound up the group.

My observations are backed up by research by Ian Plowman (2008) who identified the following as key indicators of a healthy organisation

  • Continual injection of outsiders
  • Social cohesion
  • Interest in individuals and group development
  • Member involvement
  • Youth education and diversity
  • Leadership rotation
  • Open mindedness
  • Internal and external communication

What examples of healthy groups and committee’s do you have? What have you seen work well?

Please email ( or post your comments.

Comments on: "Making groups hummm" (1)

  1. Sally Thomson said:

    Great comments Jeanette – rally useful pointers for getting groundrules in place for starting a new group too – has been useful for our ARLP session in Sydney. Met up with Cathy McGowan in Canberra – managed to thank her for her wise words when i did the consultant course with you! thanks again! And isn’t she going great guns! Gave us a really honest and enlightening view on engagement and keeping true.


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