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How Young Professionals Can Build a Facilitation Team and Empower Their Careers

Knowing how to build the facilitation is most important than simply knowing what to do.  Are you Communicating with FINESSE?  Are you Facilitating with FINESSE?
Knowing how to build the facilitation is most important than simply knowing what to do.

Young professionals bring the knowledge and insights needed for any organization to succeed. By 2025, half of the global workforce will be under 40. Young professionals who can make it easier for organizations to create, understand, and accept team-generated solutions – or facilitate – will provide the most value. Being a valued facilitator requires a team, so being able to build a facilitation team should be the first step in empowering a young professional's career.

A previous article describes what to do to build a facilitation team. This article dives into how to do it and the lessons learned from building facilitation teams.

How to Make the Playbook Work

While the standard playbook tells you what to do, it doesn’t tell you how to do it. These are five essential ways to build a facilitation team.

1. Passionate Belief (including self-developed, self-motivated skills)

Passion must drive motivation. The motivation has to be self-motivation.

The first mistake I made with building a team of facilitators within a company was believing that everyone else in the business would join me in my enthusiasm. The truth was that most of the people above me had little knowledge of why it was important to have a third-party lead the effort, much less someone younger and less experienced in their particular subject matter. It took me probably a year to fully realize that the only help that was coming was from within me.

In most cases, I had to sell myself and my team to others. We also had to invest in our own training and do it on our own time. Yes, my department supported me, but its leaders saw a limited amount of value in having a robust internal team for the moderate amount of facilitation we needed.

Lesson Learned

There is only one type of motivation — passionate self-motivation — and it overcomes all obstacles.

2. A Trusted Partner (to help acquire money, team, and equipment)

This element may not be as obvious as the others, but it is second only to the passionate belief in what you are doing.

The prospect is real that few people in business understand why technically trained young professionals desire to be great facilitators, much less establish a team of great facilitators. There is a limited amount of short-term recognition and support.

When speaking at conferences or training sessions, I am often asked how to get the support to build a successful team. My response is usually in the form of a question, “Are you doing this alone, or do you have a trusted internal partner?” The truth is that there is simply too much ground to cover, too many dimensions to consider, too many cross-functional relationships to develop, and too much complexity and uncertainty to do it all on your own. Having a trusted partner is essential.

Lesson Learned

A trusted partner is needed for success.

3. Money

Asking for money is one of the toughest things for most business professionals. That is true for most of the general population, too. Building and maintaining a business, or a successful subset of the business such as a facilitation team, necessarily takes money. It takes a lot of money. And it takes a lot of money over several years, not just a single year.

Ultimately, you must find an internal person in senior management that believes in you and trusts in you when all others do not. That person is probably not going to understand what you do or why you are doing it. But they will believe in you, through your passion, or in your trusted partner.

There should not be a false belief that “good” should naturally attract funding. The world is full of worthy causes. The business world is full of good initiatives. It comes down to building personal trust and personal trust with your financier, who will make sure you continue to have most of the resources you need.

Lesson Learned

As they say in sailboat racing, getting to the starting line is usually harder than getting to the finish line. Building a viable facilitation team takes resources.

4. Practical Vision

Building a viable facilitation team, and becoming a great facilitator, is about the long term. Most organizational initiatives are not. Managing this conflict requires a practical vision. The truth is that a facilitation team — or any subset of your business — will not be as strong as it should be out of the gate. Nor will it be able to solve all of the problems that your organization desires for the initial investment that is made.