Role of Facilitator

As facilitator, your role is to guide the circle toward completing its objective. To accomplish this, it is important to see yourself as a catalyst, promoting the circles ability to complete its diagnostic mission in the most effective and efficient way. As one facilitator so aptly put it, “Our job is not to solve the problem, our job is to get the Circles to solve the problem.”

To fulfil your responsibilities and meet the expectations of your circle and the company, you need specific skills. You will learn some basic interpersonal skills and concepts that will improve your ability to:

  • Demonstrate
  • Communicate
  • Coach


The facilitator is the key to establishing an effective circle. You must believe in the quality improvement and quality planning process and convey that conviction during all circle activities. Circle members will notice. Your desire to move forward and your enthusiasm for the project will motivate the circle.

Your actions are particularly important to circle leader. He/she will often look to you for advice and guidance along the way.

It is equally important to use the skills you will learn in this program. Your circle leader will learn by watching you clarify

and conform a person’s point of view, give a circle member helpful feedback, and manage resistance.


Effective facilitators have a clear picture of the circle’s goals. They can help the circle leader share that vision with the circle through effective communication.

During the quality improvement and quality planning process, facilitators promote effective communication by channelling the experience and talents of circle members from diverse backgrounds into constructive exchanges of information. Circle members should be encouraged o express their opinions and ideas, and have them clearly understood. In turn, the facilitator, the circle leader, and individual circle members can provide clear, specific feedback that relates to their work on the project. Moreover, when resistance occurs, the facilitator must manage it properly so it doesn’t impair the circle’s ability to work productively.


Coaching is the process of observation and feedback between the facilitator and the circle. The process is continuous, always focusing on improvement of performance.

Like a team of professional athletes, your circle members have individual strengths and weaknesses that, taken together, can either accomplish the circle’s objective or fall short of it. Your job is to provide guidance, advice, and strategy to improve the circle’s ability to tackle quality issues.

Ideally, facilitators will spend most of their time coaching circle leaders. This will enable the circle leaders to develop strategies for coaching the other circle members.

Coaching Your Circle Leader on Meetings

1. Planning the meeting

  • Set objectives
  • Ask:   – What do we want to accomplish?

– How will we know it has been accomplished?

  • State specific, observable end results.
  • Develop an agenda
    • Determine:
      • Logistics of the meeting
      • Sequence of agenda items
      • Who is responsible for what
      • Background materials

 2. Conducting the meeting

  1. Open the meeting
    • State the purpose of the meeting
    • Explain how the purpose will be accomplished
  2. Close the meeting
  • Summarize what has taken place
  • Confirm next steps

3. Keeping your circle on track

Here are some tips to coach your circle leader to keep others on track:

3. Handling no-response situations

  • Summarize the main points of the statement.
  • Invite reactions from circle members.
  • Ask a question related to an earlier discussion.

To handle the overly talkative circle member:

  • Paraphrase the ideas of the circle member to close to the discussion.
  • Invite reactions from other circle members.
  • Direct the discussion to another circle member.
  • Ask the circle member to summarize the major points of the discussion.

To handle quiet circle members:

  • Summarize the major points of discussion frequently to clarify understanding.
  • Notice any change in the facial expression of a quiet circle member and ask a question to encourage participation.
  • Tell all circle members to write down their responses and ask the quiet circle member to read his/hers aloud.

To handle circle members who raise irrelevant issues:

  • Clarify the purpose of the discussion.
  • State tactfully that the issue is not relevant to this discussion but might be useful during another meeting or discussion.

To discourage side conservations:

  • Continue with the meeting agenda and see if the conversations end.
  • Ask circle members to share their discussion with the entire circle.
  • Ask that the side conversations stop.
  • Take a break.

To handle disagreement among circle members:

  • Ask a circle member a question that requires a factual rather than emotional response.

To handle a circle member who rejects a suggestion:

  • Ask the circle member to propose a better suggestion.
  • Invite suggestions from other circle members.

To handle senior circle members:

  • Ask for their comments after other circle members have contributed.

4. Giving Feedback

A circle’s success can be measured by its ability to complete its objective. Whether or not its objective is accomplished depends largely on the circle’s ability to work together. Each circle member brings to the circle a different set of talents, expertise, and experience.

As a facilitator, you are faced with the challenge of channelling the circle’s resources and creating a productive environment that capitalizes on each circle member’s strengths while overcoming weaknesses. In order to build your circle and improve its ability to function, you need to provide circle members with feedback.

Giving positive feedback: When a person exceeds or consistently meets team expectations shows improvement

How :   State specific examples, Describe resulting benefits

Giving corrective feedback

When : Coaching on the spot, Evaluating an idea/suggestion/opinion, Pointing out a mistake

How :   Specify merits, Specify concerns

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