Being properly ‘heard’ is usually just as important to people as the actual outcome of a decision-making process.
Facilitation is a process to help a group of people have their say and reach their own decision.
The facilitator is a skilled, neutral person who guides members through the process.
Difference between facilitation and mediation
Mediation usually involves disputes between individuals or an individual and an organisation.
In contrast, facilitation usually involves large-scale disputes with several parties, an organisation, a department or an entire community.
Facilitation can also help manage a situation to prevent future disputes. Organisations may use facilitation if they are discussing major changes and need a neutral facilitator to guide the discussion.
Read more about mediation in the workplace
Situations suitable for facilitation
Facilitation is useful for:
- environmental disputes involving government authorities, conservationists and industry representatives
- workplace planning
- meetings between agencies
- policy consultations between the government and community or special-interest groups.
Generally, there’s a fee for this service. Contact your local Dispute Resolution Centre.
Benefits of facilitation
- increases the chance that all voices will be heard
- reduces manipulation, bragging or bullying
- enables everyone to hear about the costs and benefits of alternatives and the interests to be considered
- increases the likelihood that the outcome will be acceptable and decisions will be implemented.
For managers and other decision-makers, facilitation:
- demonstrates a commitment to a more open and consultative decision-making process
- builds goodwill, enhances the credibility of the agency that arranged the facilitation and strengthens stakeholder commitment to the process
- frees the manager or agency to participate in content discussions and decisions with the group
- increases the chance that participants will feel satisfied with the procedures used to reach the outcome.
The people involved decide on the degree of confidentiality. When large groups of people and public issues are involved, complete confidentiality may not be possible.
However, facilitators take an oath not to discuss the issues or the facilitation with anyone.
To get a facilitator’s help, one party contacts the Dispute Resolution Centre.
The facilitator starts by designing a process to help all interested parties establish a common goal and work constructively towards it. Then they guide the participants through the process.
If you have a dispute that might be suitable for facilitation, contact your local Dispute Resolution Centre to discuss your situation.