by Amy Ritsko-Warren

Hiring a Facilitator

Considering hiring a facilitator for strategic planning? Keep the following in mind with regard to the facilitator’s role. The facilitator:

  • moves the group through the agenda
  • makes no decisions for the group, only suggests ways to move the group forward
  • lets the participants know that they are in charge and everyone has a role to play
  • works toward group consensus rather than catering to individual needs

For more about the facilitator's role, watch the video What Do Facilitators Do?, created by the International Association of Facilitators.

Formalizing the Relationship

If you hire a facilitator, draw up a written service agreement that includes the following.

1. Scope of the work

  • number of days/hours facilitator will work on project
  • number of days/hours for planning session facilitation
  • description of pre-work (surveys, focus groups)
  • description of final product (written report, oral presentation, etc.)

2. Specific tasks to be performed

  • a clearly defined timeline
  • specified roles and responsibilities:
      – who coordinates with venue and caterer; who provides meeting supplies
      – who coordinates with committee
      – who takes notes

3. Payment schedule and fees

  • hourly rate and billable activities (phone calls, travel time, etc.)
  • project-based pricing
  • exchange of services

Working Together

Before the actual work begins, you and the facilitator should do the following:

  • Define to whom the facilitator will report (AE, President, Strategic Planning Chair, etc.).
  • Articulate clear expectations and shared objectives.
  • Discuss committee size, time commitment, and expectations.
  • Develop agenda(s) for planning session(s).
  • Develop a process for regular check-ins and how progress will be communicated.

Meeting Your Expectations

To ensure a good outcome, your facilitator should be:

  • Candid—telling you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear
  • Objective—dispassionately hearing concerns expressed by members
  • Inquisitive—probing for new ways to convey your organization's message, expand program/benefit opportunities, and engage current and new members
  • Informed—conversing about major trends in associations and real estate, and applying that knowledge for your organization's benefit
  • Provocative—encouraging the group to think creatively and work outside its comfort zone