The art of facilitation is a critical talent that every Scrum Master should constantly polish.
According to Marsha Ecker, author of the book Art and Science of Facilitation, the success of any facilitator is more about who we are and how we are being in the room than it's about the tool or technique we use.
In her book, she defines a facilitator as an individual who uses self-awareness, self-management, group awareness, and group process to enable teams to access their collective intelligence in order to achieve their desired outcome.
Facilitation is a skill that can be developed over time and here are five practical tips on how to facilitate more effectively as a Scrum Master:
1. Be Neutral
The hardest part about neutrality is letting go of the need to share your opinion or point of view regarding the subject being discussed.
Your role as a facilitator is to bring an unbiased view to a collaborative team by staying completely out of the topic being discussed, and sharing what you see happening in the group's process without judgment. Your job is to facilitate the process, not to influence the outcome. Remaining neutral builds greater trust within the team and allows you to see the bigger picture of what's being said (and not said) in the room.
2. Honor the wisdom of the team
Your team hopes to be heard, respected, and valued, and to be able to contribute to something greater than what they could accomplish on their own.
As a facilitator you need to create an engaging, safe atmosphere where all voices are heard and know how to guide the group to engage in a meaningful dialogue.
And trust that the group has its own wisdom and everything else it needs in order to be creative, and innovative in solving its own problems.
3. Have the correct facilitation mindset
Sometimes facilitators believe that they are superiors and smarter than the teams they're guiding, which has a negative impact on how they provide assistance. If you want to become a reliable facilitator, keep this mantra in mind: ''Be the guide, not the hero''.
4. Listen Actively
As a facilitator remember this golden rule: ''Speak less, listen more.''
During the meeting, as a facilitator actively listen to different points of view, perspectives, opinions, solutions, and paths.
Be curious, ask questions, and allow individuals to develop their own thoughts. Hold the space for all to speak and be heard. Active listening shows the respect and value each team member's input, and it helps to build trust and strengthen relationships within the team.
5. Be as mindful as possible
How you show up in the room as a facilitator is more impactful than the processes you have in your toolkit. Be intentional about how you show up and how you engage as it has a real impact on the team's overall atmosphere.
So bring your best self and prior to every meeting or session ask yourself: ''How can I best serve my team?''