What does a facilitator do?

Facilitation means 'to make easy'.  A skilled facilitator makes it easier for groups to achieve their aims and outcomes by attending to the task (what is to be achieved) as well as the process (how the group organise themselves to achieve the task) and the relationships between the group and the wider system. 

A facilitator may or may not act in a chairing role but will chart, guide and clear a path by which the group can achieve its aims.  He or she will contract with the group throughout their work to check alignment with the stated goals and to ensure transparency of the process and the power dynamics. 

Sometimes a facilitator has a highly visible and authoritative presence, and sometimes the facilitator directs attention and awareness to the group’s own authority, communication and dynamics as a catalyst for agreed outcomes.  The facilitator creates an environment of safety and collaboration where learning and design can take place in order to achieve 'traction' for the whole group’s efforts.

No two facilitators, or even co-facilitators will ever work in exactly the same way.  However, all facilitators are able to employ a variety of methods, techniques and interventions flexibly from their 'toolkit', depending on the objectives and composition of the group they are working with.  An individual facilitator’s style can be described as a result of various models, techniques, interventions and how these are employed - what they do - and is also a result of the values and standards they hold, their psychological make-up, degree of awareness, skill and development - who they are.

Why should I become a guest member?

Becoming a guest member is free and enables you to be kept up to date with the Association’s activities and publications in the sphere of facilitation through our quarterly newsletter, as well as receiving advanced notice of forthcoming training courses, supervision and open days.

In addition, if you join as a guest member you will automatically receive a self-evaluation version of our Facilitator Competency Model FACETS®.

Why should I become an Affiliate Member?

Affiliate Membership is ideally suited to you if you are either training to become a facilitator, or working as a facilitator already.  By signing up for Affiliate Membership you can:

  • receive a regular newsletter
  • attend a Group Supervision day at no extra cost
  • work towards Accredited Membership
  • access your own confidential, online, personalised Learning Record
  • describe yourself to your clients and on your CV or marketing material as an Affiliate Member of AoF
  • Let clients and others know that you subscribe to our Code of Practice

Affiliate Membership costs £220 per year.

Why should I become an accredited member? /  Why should I use an AoF Accredited Facilitator to facilitate my event or group?

Being an Accredited Member of the AoF signals competence and commitment to professional development as a facilitator.  In order to gain accreditation, members train with us and participate in a self-and-peer accreditation process where they assess their competence as a facilitator against our Facilitator Competency Model FACETS ®.  They review their accreditation every two years.

Accredited Membership also demonstrates commitment to a high standard of working as set out in our Code of Practice. Members accredited at Level 1 have undertaken a short Foundations course of 5 days. 

Members accredited at Level 2 have undertaken a year-long Certificate Programme and Members accredited at Level 3 have undertaken a 2-year-long Post-graduate Diploma Programme.

Substantial support is available for Accredited Facilitators, from on-line resources and supervision meetings through to free one-to-one support for planning and reviewing facilitation events.

What does experiential training entail?

Experiential learning means that nobody just sits back and listens or takes notes – all participants learn through felt and shared experience.  For example, if we are learning experientially about a particular model of group dynamics, we may ask participants to describe and evaluate the model against their own experience as a member of many different groups (educational, social, family, professional), as well as to explore their here-and-now experience as a group member. 

This way of working results in a deeper level of awareness and connection to the learning material, which can better be employed in service of group facilitation for clients.  As well as learning from their own internal experience of external events, participants report learning extensively from others sharing their personal and professional life experience in a group setting.

What is Self and Peer Assessment and why do you use it?

Our aim is to empower individuals and encourage the self-regulation of facilitator competence.  We believe that this is best attained through the process of Self and Peer Assessment.  This means that you, supported and challenged by your peer group, have authority to assess your own performance.

This is not quite the same as the Self and Peer Accreditation process which we use alongside Self and Peer Assessment – the final say on Accreditation and Membership resides with the Association of Facilitators.  Representatives of the AoF themselves undergo self and peer directed supervision to support them to administer this process with competence, reliability and validity.

Our research has shown that the process administered in this way provides both a rigorous and challenging environment for learning and assessment.  Participants report that they engage in a thorough inquiry into their skills, knowledge, and awareness, that they become more familiar with their blind spots and areas for development.  The process builds critical reflection in participants, and develops personal authority and emotional competence.

How can facilitator training contribute to my Continuing Professional Development?

We know that facilitation skills are essential to many roles where groups and teams work together, whether in business, education, community or other settings.  Even if you are not working in a role entitled 'Facilitator' most people who lead or participate in groups benefit from developing skills in understanding and guiding groups to achieve their results.

Managers and team leaders often report that training in facilitation skills enables light to be shed on the often unexplored aspects of groups – communication, process and relationships – often the things that bring and people engagement and project success.  Leaders report that facilitation skills are the 'missing link' in their education and experience, sometimes describing the learning as 'what I wish I’d learnt on my MBA'.

For those who are already committed to a career path as a facilitator, or a career path that utilises their skills in facilitating groups, the Association of Facilitators can provide a clear path for professional development and substantial resources to support them.

Will I get more work as an Accredited Facilitator?

We hope and intend that you do!  We provide a free service for organisations needing facilitators for an event.  On receiving details of the enquiry from them, we use the details that you provide via your Learning Record (including whether you are interested in using this service) to send a short list of candidates to them.  Organisations will contact you and contract with facilitators directly.  The Association of Facilitators are not part of the agreement, nor do we receive a fee from either party.

In return for this benefit, we require that you update your Learning Record and request and/or record client feedback so we can evaluate how well we have matched the client’s requirement, and remain informed about your enhanced experience.  We may also seek client feedback directly.  

More broadly, we promote facilitation as a profession through our research and events, and promote AoF Accredited Facilitators as a skilled and supported group of professional facilitators.

What is a Learning Record?

A Learning Record is an on-line personal record available via the members’ area of the Association of Facilitators website.  It is partly a CV, partly your own Professional Development Plan (PDP) and partly your own journal.

There are 6 sections within which you cumulatively record your experiences, qualifications, training, feedback, insights and intentions.  Clients and peers are able to contribute feedback directly into your Learning Record if you request them to do so.

This facility, available to all Affiliate and Accredited members, supports reflective practice, appreciative inquiry and action research approaches to personal learning and professional development. 

It is confidential and only visible to you and your AoF trainers/supervisors.

How can I contribute to your Tools and Resources pages?  Will my contribution be acknowledged?

We would welcome additions to the resources and tools sections of our website.  The main criteria are that the resources and tools are useful for our members, clear, helpful and well presented.  We would welcome any feedback on whether we achieving our aim or not. Please review what is already there and then submit any contributions or suggestions by email.  On receipt, these will be evaluated for inclusion by our editorial board and you will be fully credited if we use your contribution.