Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Posts tagged ‘workshops’

Tips for running great field days

EL Bill Fungicides 2Tips for great field days – thanks once again to the GRDC Extension group for their ideas. I have build on their brainstorm with some other thoughts collected from discussions over the last 12 months.

Tips for great field days …

  • Well located – think about where the field day site is to be located. Is it easily accessible? If it’s a very wet season will people still be able to access the site? What is the noise level like? Is there a busy highway or train line close to the site which will impact on peoples ability to hear speakers?
  • Run on time – start and finish on time, value the effort people have made to be there. This includes the sessions during the day – speakers don’t feel valued if they have prepared for 30 minutes are then are cut short because the  person prior has gone over time.
  • Know and “name” the outcomes to be achieved by the event. A few well formed outcomes are more achievable than lots and lots!
  • Local, relevant and topical – what are the key issues being faced in the district right now.
  • Credible topics – how can this be integrated into my farm business?
  • Recognised farmer – utilise farmers where possible to tell stories and value add to the research with their first hand experiences.
  • Evaluate – follow up, how effective was the event? Were the agreed outcomes achieved? What worked well and what could be done differently next time?
  • Good agronomy – make sure the trials are well presented and in line with district practice.
  • Interaction time – ensure there is time for participants to views trials, ask questions and discuss what they might have learnt amongst themselves.
  • Good food – this is vitally important! Poor food will be all that is reported on so get it right!
  • Focus – not heaps of trials or topics.
  • Crop trial inspection time – focus on a few trials is more effectively than overwhelming people with lots to view. Think about how much you can take in during one session.
  •  Add something that is a “bit left of field” or “blue sky” to create some interest
  • BBQ  & beer to finish off the day and allow some very important networking time.

What other ideas do readers have about what makes a great field day?

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Top tips for running training workshops & facilitated groups

2013-04-04 16.21.18Thanks to the GRDC Extension, Adoption Training and Support Group for their top tips on how to run effective training workshops and facilitated groups. The group met in Canberra last week where we reviewed farmer decision making, personality types, extension, adoption and evaluation.

The top tips are not prioritised – they were developed during a facilitated brainstorming exercise.

Training workshops

  1. Plan the event early
  2. Clear training packages and outcomes
  3. Topical and relevant dealing with current issues
  4. Accommodate different learning styles
  5. Evaluate the process
  6. Follow up after the workshop – ensure learning put into practice
  7. Interactive sessions – not all chalk and talk
  8. Recognise the knowledge in the room and draw this into the discussion
  9. Good presenters / facilitators
  10. Introduce the agenda and stick to it
  11. Practicality,think about – Relative advantage, trialabilty, observabilty, simplicity, compatibility
  12. Good take home resources
  13. Logical progression throughout the workshop
  14. Venue that works

Facilitated groups

  1. Establish the ground rules in an inclusive way
  2. Establish the group – take the time to do this properly and build ownership in the process
  3. Good facilitation skills to engage participants – ownership on driving the agenda of the group
  4. Good process and skill
  5. Group has purpose and expectations
  6. Understand the desired overview and stick to it
  7. Include everyone
  8. Stick to agreed timeframes
  9. Manage  the group and individuals energy
  10. Review and reflect effectively
  11. Evaluate
  12. Good planning
  13. Use a range of methods to accommodate learning styles

Facilitating with passion

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I love to facilitate – both facilitation in the pure sense helping a group develop a new strategic plan or way to work together, to facilitation of workshops which include delivery of some material and lots of activities which draw on the knowledge and experience of the participants to deepen learning.

It’s been 12 months since I started Workshops with Wow and it has been an exciting year for me, I have travelled to many parts of rural Australia and New Zealand working with wonderful rural people dedicated to agriculture and rural life. It is so inspiring to see the passion of people for their industry, group or organisation and to play a small part in their ongoing development.

My work with the Agri-Women’s Development Trust in NZ has provided me with a unique opportunity to work with NZ rural women. As I have fortunate to be part of them learning to “own their skills and talents” and identify their passions – I have also developed a deeper understanding of myself, my passion for people development and ownership of my skills.

Facilitating with my life and business partner, Bill, on farmer decision making and extension and adoption in the grains industry has been a highlight. We hope to continue this into the future – traveling together instead of in different directions – combining our interests of people and agriculture.

Writing this blog has provided me with the opportunity to share my passion and desire to enhance adult learning and facilitation – particularly in rural and regional areas.

Thankyou for following my blog and sharing in my journey I have really appreciated your comments, emails and personal feedback and look forward to continuing the facilitation discussion. Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and colleagues.

May 2013 be an exciting fulfilling year for you all – Jeanette

Learning to ski

2013-01-22 11.12.57Welcome back to Workshops with Wow and my first blog for 2013. I hope you have all enjoyed Christmas,a break and a great start to the year!

During January I was fortunate to travel to Japan, to Niseko, for a Skiing holiday with my husband Bill and son Will. I can’t ski ..so decided lessons would be good idea to get me started.

It was a great reminder for a facilitator and trainer to go through the process of learning a new (and challenging!) skill like skiing. My instructor was a young Englishman who had learnt to ski at the age of 2 1/2 ….he was completely unconsciously competent skier and had little teaching experience. For him I was a challenge – completely unconsciously incompetent !! I had no idea what I didn’t know and needed to be told exactly what to do in order to stay upright on those skis!

I left the lesson somewhat frustrated having learnt a few tips but not enough to get me off the magic carpet with the toddlers and onto the beginner slopes. Bill came to my rescue … a consciously competent skier … who had enough experience to know what he was doing and not enough that it had become a natural skill. After some mentoring by a very patient Bill I progressed to the beginner slopes.

The whole learning experience made me think carefully about the need as a trainer to be consciously aware of our unconscious competence! (That’s a bit of a mouthfull!) How important it is to go back and think through how we learnt the skill in the first place and then how we can teach that skills to a beginner. What were the key elements of the learning for us?

My poor young ski instructor learnt to ski as he was learning to walk …. how many of us could go back and teach someone to walk? Maybe more challenging than we think.

My other reminder was that there is a time to TELL – there are times when we don’t know what we don’t know. And equally importantly, when to move onto a mentoring or coaching role as people develop some confidence and practice the new skill.

Group size

2012-12-04 15.11.36In the last few months I have facilitated groups varying in size from 25 to 6. What’s the best group size?

For me this depends on the outcomes required and the importance of a collaborative outcome.

In a perfect world my group size is 12 …

  • They are easily broken into groups of 3, 4, 2 or 6 …
  • Building the group at the start of the session is relatively easy with 12, people are happy to share thoughts and experiences. Once the number exceeds 12 the time taken to build the group trust is longer and some quiet members of the group will not interact at the whole group level at all.
  • I like to use U shaped tables in a workshop and this also works well with groups up to about 12. With more participants I perfer round tables with groups of 5 at each table. Each table can then be treated as “one” with table discussions feeding into the overall.
  • I encourage people to move around during workshop sessions – setting this up in the “How we will work together” so after each break we sit next to someone different. This assists with generating new ideas and thinking as well as creating networking opportunities for the members of the group.

Venues can be challenging depending on there shape and size – often not giving us the choice we would like for room set up. I prefer to see the venue before the workshop – however this is not always possible when travelling long distances.

The most challenging venue we have facilitated in was an old town hall in country Queensland – the floor was wood and the acoustics terrible. Bad venues can have a big impact on the outcomes of the workshop – as was reflected in the evaluation sheets from this particular one.

Personality type cont…

In my last blog I began unpacking the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) and impacts for the facilitator. We looked at Introvert and Extravert – this blog will focus on Senate ( S – detail) and Intuition (N – Big Picture).

The S and N dichotomy in MBTI refers to the way we take in information and learn. I am an N – so big picture person. I go along to a workshop wanting to know “What will I get out of this?” “What will be the outcome?”, I’m not so concerned about the detail until I understand the big picture. This is the opposite to the S Type who requires the detail to clearly understand the big picture.

In simple terms an N builds understanding from the top down, an S builds understanding from the bottom up.

So what are the considerations for the facilitator?

  • We need to cater for both types – provide the big picture of the workshop and then give the detailed agenda. Be careful about going into masses of detail early in the workshop as the N types will switch off – find a balance between the two.
  • When presenting information give the overall model first to capture the N and then break into the detail – review the model at the end to satisfy both types learning.
  • In strategic planning recognise that while N’s love this type of activity, particularly the visioning stage, the S’s are looking forward to getting their teeth into the action planning. Ensure that participants understand the process so they know their needs will be met.

On a personal level I ensure that I plan for the S types – as I’m not one! I ensure I provide a detailed agenda and run through it with the group, I focus on the detail required for learning and think about how to structure my content.

I enjoy facilitating the MBTI as it provides me with the unique opportunity of discussing with the different types what they prefer in a workshop and how they like the process to work.

Personality type and facilitation

This post follows the theme of my last post “Facilitation begins with you” understanding yourself and your style when facilitating.

In the last blog I focused on VARK as a model this time I start personality types. I like to use the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI). It is more complicated than many other simple types with only four quadrants however it provides a more in-depth understanding – particularly if like me you don’t fit easily into one of the quadrants.

I am an INTJ – in simple terms an introvert, big picture, logical and organised person. What do I need to consider as a facilitator when working with different types?

As an introvert I need some time out to rebuild my energy levels. Lots of interaction can be tiring to an introvert as compared to an extravert who gains energy from other people. When I’m facilitating I see this as an opportunity to practice being my opposite and many people in the group are often surprised to find out my type.

To manage this I need to give myself time out if possible in the breaks and especially at the end of the day if the workshop is for two days. I don’t facilitate for more than 2 days in a row and I make sure I get plenty of rest between workshops.

Co-facilitating works well for me as it gives some break time during the workshop to build up my energy.

Introverts also like to think before they speak – this can be challenging when you are the deliverer and another reason while I prefer a facilitative approach compared to deliverer. As the facilitator I draw on the experiences of the individuals in the group to answer questions from the floor – “What do members of the group think about that?” is a great way to deflect the question, buy some thinking time and draw on all of the vast experiences of the adults in the room.

Keep in mind the “think before speak” and provide time for the introverts to think about answers before group input  – they prefer not to be put on the spot unless it’s a topic they are knowledgable about.

My next blog will focus on the S/N (detail vs big picture) dichotomy in MBTI.

Please feel free to share my blog with your colleagues and friends and provide me with any feedback – it’s the best way to learn!

Closing the workshop with Wow

I believe it’s very important to finish on time and close the workshop – don’t let people drift off unsure of the end.

I have attended workshops with very enthusiastic presenters who just keep on going! One I recall missed afternoon tea completely and then half an hour after his closing time participants started to leave. Without a formal end there was no opportunity to reflect on learning’s, evaluate the workshop or celebrate the success.

The closing process begins with referring back to the “Expectations” flip chart you set up at the beginning of the session. Run through the list and check with participants to see if their expectations have been met.

This simple exercise helps them to reflect on what it was they were looking for at the beginning and also provides reflection for the group about the topics covered. It is the beginning of the closure process.

The benefits of closing the day

  • Provides time to reflect on learning’s
  • Pick up ideas for others as to their key learning’s
  • Facilitators gain a sense of what has been valuable to the group
  • You know the day has ended

Closing can take many forms and simply be a “closing comment” from each person. As a facilitator I like to know something people will take away so often ask “What is something you will now do differently?”

During the close I like to use the ball as I did at the beginning of the workshop, throwing the ball around the room randomly as people provide a closing comment. Make your closing comment the last one of the group so you can include your thankyou and reminder of any follow up activities.

If the workshop has included a lot of ‘sitting’ at tables standing in a circle is an effective way to change the dynamics at the end.

Feedback

Feedback – it’s something we all like to have so we can improve .. even though sometimes we might not like what we hear!

Good constructive feedback helps us grow and learn, develop our skills and become better at what we do. Without it we may tend to keep doing what we have always done because it works for us.

I like to evaluate every workshop using several techniques if possible. These might include

  • Finishing off the day with an ORID – this is asking an Objective, Reflective, Interpretive and Decisional question of the group, it aims to captures the facts, feelings, key messages and changes.
  • If there isn’t time for an ORID …as a minimum asking for a closing comment from everyone
  • Evaluation forms
  • On-line surveys
  • Discussion with a co-facilitator or trusted colleague  (who you know will be honest!) What worked well? What could be done differently?
  • Contact a participant or two after the event and check in with them. Plan a few questions rather than having a general conversation. I like to know what they have implemented or changed since attending the workshop.
  • A self evaluation – if we are really honest with ourselves we know when things have gone well or could have been better – I like to think this through and make some notes in my journal to refer back to. Remember can be our own worst critic so don’t be too hard on yourself!

I’d really like to hear from all of you about feedback ..

  • What is the best way to get the feedback?
  • Are you really honest on evaluation forms?
  • Is it better to reflect and then provide feedback via an online survey later?
  • Will you complete a survey after you have left the workshop or is this too late?
  • What is the best way for a facilitator to receive honest feedback from you?

Finally as Ken Solly told us at an Adaptive Management workshop last week – “Milk every mistake for all it’s worth.”

Looking forward to hearing some thoughts …..

Ignite Leadership Coaching

The Ignite Leadership Coaching Course is one of those training events that made me go WOW! I did the training with Tony Draper from the Forton Group and Sharon Honner a couple of years ago in Queensland.

I was so impressed I went back to Queensland in October last year and completed the course again along with the Train the Trainer so Sharon and I could facilitate this course together.

We facilitated our first workshop in Adelaide late in June and were thrilled with the feedback we received. We were very fortunate to have Tony come to Adelaide to support us as we facilitated this for the first time.

The Forton Group is an international organisation who has designed The Professional Leadership Coach Training Programme to meet the needs of organisations and the people who work in them. The Programme is accredited with the International Coach Federation, and consists of four modules – The Ignite workshop being the first of these.

The concept of coaching is often not clearly understood as we often relate to Sports Coaching or coaching for a skill. The Forton Group define coaching as “Supporting people to get what they want, without doing it for them, or telling them what to do. The coaching conversation is an art, a science and a practice.”

In contrast to a mentor who has experience in a field and acts as a guide, a coach knows how to ask great questions so the coachee can discover for themselves and experience their own journey.

I also particularly like the Forton Groups definition of leadership; “Leadership is about people being successful and enabling success in others. Leadership is more than a position: it is who we are, what we achieve and how we do it.”

The Ignite Leadership Coaching is the foundation course, it introduces the professional leadership coaching model. It touches on emotional intelligence, how we coach to develop peoples’ emotional capacity, introduces the model and focuses on leadership vision and accessing resources.

Sharon and I hope to offer this fantastic program again later in 2012 or early in the new year. If this sounds of interest to you let us know.

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