Make no mistake - facilitating is an Art. This learned skill creates a collaborative climate that keeps the group focused and engaged.
A skillful facilitator steers the discussion without controlling it, and helps frame important issues without personally debating them. Also, the ability to recognize and deal with different personality styles maximizes participation and prevents a few people with strong personalities from dominating the discussion.
CASE STUDY: Engineering Firm Leadership Development Retreat
Designed and facilitated a 1 1/2 - day leadership development retreat for the officers and team leaders of a consulting engineering firm.
See their blog: http://www.sainblog.com/first-sain-associates-leadership-retreat-pays-big-dividends/
CASE STUDY: CPA Firm Visioning Retreat
This CEO of this rapidly growing public accounting firm wanted to enhance its already high-touch service, but was concerned that continued expansion would dilute service quality and cause frustration among employees. Wagner Consulting Group led an off-site planning retreat to develop a shared vision to guide future operations.
The two-day retreat was held in a peaceful woodland setting, and included ample time for unstructured interaction and relaxation. Wagner began with teambuilding exercises, followed by a Time Line Process to help participants understand the firm's history and traditions. Next the employees assessed the firm's "current reality" and explored future possibilities. Wagner also led a Multiple Lenses exploration of how outsiders (clients, competitors, and the general public) perceived the firm. Finally, the group developed and prioritized action items.
The main benefit of this retreat was the shared sense of buy-in and personal commitment from staffers. Employees also used an Internal Code of Ethics to establish norms of behavior toward each other. As time passed, the firm's culture reinforced positive behaviors and weeded out those employees whose actions were at odds with the firm's core values.
Only after years can you fully appreciate the benefit of a strong and noble company culture. Today this firm's growth rate has slowed from the earlier frantic pace, but morale and teamwork are higher and the CEO is more relaxed and effective. Moreover, the firm attracts more "A Clients" and top-notch employees.
CASE STUDY: Planning Retreat for a Large General Contractor
After a couple of tumultuous years the future looked promising – but uncertain – for this large general contractor. The company wanted to clarify short- and longer-term goals to ensure that only the best opportunities were pursued. Wagner Consulting Group was retained to design, carry out preparatory work, and lead a two-day off site planning retreat for the senior management team. The work products of this retreat helped the company achieve more than $100,000,000 in revenue the next year.
The contractor had earned an excellent reputation, enjoyed much repeat business from its large corporate customers, and was often on a select list for major construction projects put out for bid. The senior managers were experienced, but were all very busy, so the executive team decided to hold a planning retreat to focus on critical success factors. Wagner Consulting Group opened the retreat by presenting the results of its confidential surveys of key employees. From this foundation, the group reaffirmed its mission statement and then defined the work products they wanted at the conclusion of the retreat. Knowing where they wanted to end up helped the group maintain focus without being too limited in their thinking.
The end results of the meeting included specific revenue and gross profit goals for the two upcoming years, organization structures, roles & goals for senior managers, hiring plans for additional managers and superintendents, and action items. Perhaps most important, the retreat provided the CEO a forum to communicate important messages over a two-day period.
"Tom recently conducted a leadership retreat for my firm's senior management. His preparation was thorough and on point. He is an excellent facilitator and did well establishing rapport with the group."
-- Becky White, VP Organization Development
“I appreciate the way you facilitate our marketing meetings. You set the stage, lead us into discussions, and then you imperceptibly withdraw and allow us to interact, until you re-enter to help us focus or move on to the next topic. Without you, I think we might wander off in unproductive directions. Thanks for your help and guidance.” -- David Williamson, Branch Manager
“Thank you for the outstanding presentation you delivered. Yours was one of the most talked-about presentations of the conference. You provided exactly what we requested: information we could take back to our respective offices and put to use. It was entertaining, enjoyable, and productive. What a winning combination!” -- Jonene Sartin, VP