Facilitation Tip: Balancing Engagement

With our new Advanced Certified ScrumMaster course, I’ve been focused on facilitation skills for leaders.  I thought maybe sharing quick small facilitation techniques and tips would be a good series posts.

Facilitation Challenge: As a facilitator, you have someone participating non-stop and not giving others an opportunity to engage.

Habits: A common habit or initial reaction to this challenge is the urge to tell that person to not participate or directly tell them to allow others to engage.  This can work but more times what I experience is that person completely checking out (as they may have had great intent and now feel shut down). As well as, the others can have dynamics of now participating but worried about conflict.

Better Approach: Incorporate more silent or pair exercises (such as brain writing) to help all voices be heard. Alternatively, an exercise like six thinking hats causes people to be present from a different perspective, which will change how they engage. If none of that works, have a private 1-1 conversation to learn what their reason for how they are engaging.  They may not be aware of impact. they may be justifying impact because of their intent, and/or they may need to see the long term costs over the short term gains.

The benefits are really simple but powerful. We can’t assume “bad behaviors” mean “bad person”.  I understand the frustration but a facilitator’s purpose is to help engage all.  Humans don’t all engage in the exact same way, embrace this, the benefits can be wonderful.

What technique do you use to get more balanced engagement?

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