Facebook Pixel large image
View previous webinars and recordings on applying a variety of RSVP Design Activities! JUST CLICK HERE
Loading...

How do facilitators work with groups who have had an 'easy win'?

How do facilitators work with groups who have had an 'easy win'?

There were some interesting responses to last month’s blog which considered how to handle a session where your group are unsuccessful at completing the experiential task you have set them. For some people this was accepted as very sound advice, and it seems to have taken away some of the ‘fear of failure’ that was out there. Countering this I’ve had people say that failure isn’t their biggest fear, what they really dread is their group completing a task quickly, apparently without great effort, and, crucially, with no obvious learning available to review. So this month I’m going to look at this and ask “how do we as facilitators work with groups who have had an ‘easy win’?”


Let’s first consider that there’s a lot in play here that is about facilitator expectations and mindset, in particular two no-nos in how you approach focused experiential learning.


1. When using experiential learning tools, it’s never advisable to base the success of your session on the anticipation of a particular task outcome.


2. When using experiential learning tools, it’s never advisable to dismiss a shared learning situation as having no available learning.


So let’s look at these two statements and think about what you can do to avoid the very real traps they hold.


No two groups will ever do the same experiential task in exactly the same way, and different approaches will produce different results. This is what makes working experientially so enjoyable, but what it also means is that facilitators need to be ready to work with some inherent unpredictability.

Considering different scenarios is part of the design and preparation stage - thinking through some of the major ‘what-if’s’ and being ready to move the learning on whatever. This could be as mundane as “What if the room proves to be smaller than I anticipate?” and “What if we lose power during the session?”, but it could also be about a group having seen your keystone activity before, or some of the group being unable to participate in a particular activity. Being prepared for this isn’t an option, it’s part of the job.

 
A significant part of building this professional resilience comes from recognising each learning element and activity as part of your group’s learning progression, rather than as a stand-alone event. You will have learning objectives for each activity, but these should always be seen as part of a broader statement of learning aims. What this means is that if your group has a particularly good performance in one element you can relate this to wider aims and choose some more ambitious questions for your review.

Here are some ideas about what these might look like:


If the group has been really successful, they could be considered an asset to their wider organisation. Running the review along these lines might be about. “That was a brilliant performance, let’s see whether there’s learning there for your colleagues. Get together in a huddle and answer this question ‘Without telling them how to do it, what instructions might you give another group about how they need to work if they are to be as successful as you’?”

 

You can be sure that by the time the group have presented back to you they will have a very clear idea about the learning that they have gained. Understanding the learning progression for your group means that you should have an idea about what their next appropriate learning should be, and what activity might bring that learning out. Don’t be afraid of bringing that next activity forward, or even integrating the two activities in a longer session. What that might look like after a very proficient performance in one activity is this. “OK well done on that great result, now I want to see whether you can apply your learning into another similar situation. I’m going to give you the instructions for another activity, but before I let you start that activity, I’m going to ask you to take some time to talk about what you learned in the first activity, and make a list of the things you did that you think will help you be just as successful in the second activity”

This is another great approach to getting your group into self-managing their reviews, being honest about performance, and proficient at extracting key learning from their work - and these are huge assets for them to have in any workplace.

 
Finally, here there is the opportunity to get the successful group involved in designing the next steps on their learning journey. Again, this probably means drawing on the broader learning aims, or getting the group to develop these for themselves. This approach means that we take the unusual step of moving around Kolb’s Learning Cycle in a slightly different way - here’s what that might sound like: “You’ve proved yourself to be a very proficient group, you’ve shown an ability to learn quickly and apply that learning in novel situations. What I want to do is to think about how we could exploit those talents in your everyday work. Let’s have an open discussion about what you’re good at, and what you’re not so good at back there, and ask ourselves the question ‘If we took the learning from that last activity and applied it at work, what would it make us better at doing, what improvements might we expect to see?’

In order to answer these questions, the group again has to self-manage their review to distil the available learning from the activity, then consider their workplace learning needs, then consider how these two might marry-up to improve performance.

 

Having high-performing groups is a pleasure in that you can use the energy they generate from successful task performance and channel this into a deeper than usual dive into what makes them perform so well. It will involve you being a bit more flexible and responsive in the way you design and deliver the review stage of the process, but the return on this investment can be exhilarating.

Related Articles
  1. Using the Kolb Learning Cycle for  Effective Leadership & Transformative Learning Using the Kolb Learning Cycle for Effective Leadership & Transformative Learning
  2. 3 Strategies to turn experiential task failure into learning 3 Strategies to turn experiential task failure into learning
  3. New research shows what’s so difficult about facilitating (debriefing) a game? New research shows what’s so difficult about facilitating (debriefing) a game?
  4. 12 Attitudes, Beliefs, Habits and Practical Skills for Learning Facilitators 12 Attitudes, Beliefs, Habits and Practical Skills for Learning Facilitators
You may also like