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Facilitation and the Future of Work

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Published on
11/24/2020
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Eddie Turner
Executive Coach and International Best-Selling Author

Eddie Turner, Executive Coach and International Best-Selling Author, examines the expanding role of facilitation in the Future of Work. Learn how organizations around the world can run more effective virtual meetings, increase collaboration, and as a result, productivity and profitability by leveraging the benefits of facilitation now and into the future.

An underrated superpower

Eddie Turner works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact, and the biggest challenge leaders are facing right now, is that the world of work is changing. It’s estimated that there will continue to be 50% less travel and a third less time spent in the office for the majority of employees. This being the case, most meetings will be virtual. Now, we know that we can do this – after all remote working was forced on us when the pandemic hit, but how can we continue to do it in a way that brings benefits rather than problems? 

Well, perhaps we need to think about the tools that will help us in our journey to excellence in remote working, and ask ourselves who are the people who know how to use these tools? As the world of work evolves, no-one is competing for the corner office – we all have the same size square on these screens, but it’s telling that a new job title is beginning to emerge: “Head of Remote Working” which shows us that organizations are seeking ways to guarantee that their teams will have a positive remote experience.

Turner believes that facilitation is a superpower, because it can get you a seat at the table regardless of your level within a given hierarchy. But you must be good at it to really break down boundaries and right now, you also need the tools to be able to keep a virtual meeting engaging. Turner points out that once you have facilitation skills, you can work from virtually any platform, but you also need to understand the potential pitfalls of remote working as well as its opportunities.

Collaborating and making meetings inclusive have long been pain points for organizations, but they really don’t have to be. Here’s why:

Leading effective meetings

Find relevant tools to make meetings participative

First of all, it helps to make sure you have the right tools for the job – and Klaxoon is a great place to start. It allows you to create a virtual whiteboard in real time as you present or lead a meeting. It’s all digital so you’ll reduce paper usage and you’re not having to chase sticky notes from one office to another. It also provides a great mix of text and images in various colors so you can create powerful visuals to reinforce your points. 

Facilitating a meeting face to face is one thing, but doing it all the way across the country or even across the globe and being able to simultaneously add to the discussion is really next level. Klaxoon allows everyone to make their voice heard and participate. However, there are some things to consider that will really help you to turn the dial up on your remote meetings.

Facilitating efficient meetings on the go

First of all, make sure you’re inviting the right people – Turner notes that is should be the people actually doing the work rather than execs. Although Klaxoon lets you brainstorm, rank ideas and take polls, leaders don’t always have the vision to unearth the truth, but the people on the ground usually do, so get people to join the meeting and provide them with a way to interact. He suggests putting out an idea, then pausing to let everyone use stickies to note down their thoughts on the board. You’re not slowed down by the process of waiting for everyone to speak and it’s far less cumbersome. As the facilitator, you control the pace and can ensure collaboration in a very visual way, so that everyone can see the progress that’s being made. Those that are not in the room at the time of writing can quickly get caught up later on.

A Board screen showing many different formats: text, pictures, uploaded files and people connected in remote. | Klaxoon
There are many ways to share and communicate visually with your team while facilitating a workshop on Board.

Just as important, is tech skills. To facilitate a virtual meeting effectively, understanding how to use your platform of choice and really get the best from it is vital. Turner says that we’re doing better, but most facilitators still have a way to go and most people use only 10% of the capabilities of online tools. Challenge yourself to learn more and be encouraged by incremental gains. 

The same can be said for communication – learn how to involve everyone, even the people who aren’t talking, and remember that non communication is still communication. If there are some people not so keen to jump in and share on the board, there are some activities that can help with that, but it all starts with communication, whatever shape it takes.

Facilitation and collaboration – a perfect match

Organizations have seen some great results by facilitating meetings where the ground rules, or guiding principles if you prefer, are set out right at the start. Other things that have proven to make a real difference in successful sessions include starting with someone who doesn’t mind talking, then go round robin and involving everyone early. By setting a clear tone for the meeting or workshop, everyone can have a chance to contribute and will likely do so safe in the knowledge of how things work and where they stand. It’s worth remembering that if people feel like a true stakeholder – if they have ‘skin in the game’ then you’re doing a great job as a facilitator.

A group of people running a hybrid workshop on different screens: desktop, mobile and MeetingBoard, with other team members connected to a Round Robin Board. | Klaxoon
On-site or remotely, while switching screens and devices, the team members feel involved all the same.

At the heart of successful meetings is a mix of facilitation and collaboration. Hit the sweet spot and you’re likely to reach your goals, but that takes an intentional approach and a high level of emotional intelligence. Great facilitators can read the room, even when it’s a virtual room, and there’s a huge amount of improvising involved. Luckily, Klaxoon works well ‘in the moment’ and can support this kind of adaptive way of working. It may feel challenging to begin with, but improvise to your advantage and use the tools at hand to pull the expertise out of the room. 

Eddie Turner: "Products like Klaxoon allow us to reduce our carbon footprint, while being just as effective." | Klaxoon

What about when the world goes back to normal you may well ask, do we all go back to face to face? Only time will tell, but a hybrid approach seems the most likely of all the options and if that’s the case, the biggest challenge, similar to other sessions, is the pressure on the facilitator to always remember the people who are not directly in the room. Whatever the future holds, it’s a brave new world out there and we’re not going to find ourselves back in February 2020 anytime soon, so let’s embrace these new ways of working.

Watch the full video discussion with Eddie Turner, Executive Coach and International Best-Selling Author, to find out more about the expanding role of facilitation in the Future of Work.

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