The Five Challenges of a Facilitator

The Five Challenges of a Facilitator
- while finalizing an outbound experiential learning program.
                                                                                                          - Achal Bindraban

What are the five biggest challenges training facilitators face? A good facilitator doesn’t really have the challenge of domain knowledge, program design or innovative delivery. His challenges are different.

The first challenge is when the corporate organization wants to have a fun leisure offsite but calls it an experiential outbound teambuilding program, perhaps to get budgets approved. So the HR Manager says that it should be an out and out fun outing without really any concept briefings, processing of activities, assessments, participant journals. He adds, but the objectives of teambuilding should be met and there should be a marked and sustained improvement in each participant and in the team as a whole!

When the Kolb’s Cycle (on experiential learning) is discussed no one gives too much importance to Part 2, 3 and 4 of the cycle. Everyone is interested only in the first part, that of doing an activity / having the experience and essentially outdoor, fun-based at that. Yes, facilitators make interesting activities the basis of the learning program but as Kurt Hahn (a propounder of outward bound programs) said, “Make games important but not predominant.” To make an experiential learning workshop fruitful equally important are the other parts of the cycle – reviewing, reflecting, generalizing concepts  through collaborative inquiry and experimenting the concepts in subsequent activities so that they can be internalized and adopted naturally in workplace situations.

The genesis of this challenge is that there is a minimal buy-in from the participants for a learning program and the co-ordinators or leadership team of the organization doesn’t try to sell the idea and link it with their growth. So, during the program, instead of expending energy on delivery of the program the facilitator has to concentrate on motivating people to participate.

The second challenge is the content. Stakeholders like to list ALL the qualities they would like the participants to have as part of their soft skill repertoire. At times it reads out like a laundry list which would take a year-long curriculum to cover. During a recent query we received, a global automobile giant also insisted that as part of a 3 day outbound teambuilding and leadership program they wanted the following modules included – basic accounting, government policies on taxation, insurance business know-how and so on and so forth!
It is always a good idea to start with a small idea and develop it and take up three major objectives to tackle per workshop. But this seems low value and low ROI to the co-ordinators.  

The other three major challenges are regarding transparency, open communication and layers. The stakeholders don’t engage with the training company as partners in progress but still feel as if they are out shopping for commodities.

This industry still has a long way to go to attain some form of maturity.

Achal is a graduate engineer and a certified coach with 25+ years of corporate experience.
Achal Bindraban is the founder and principal facilitator of Mavraac, an experiential corporate training company and OD organization offering learning  and development  programs - team building training, leadership coaching, personal effectiveness workshops, OD Interventions and outbound  training. 

Achal is a graduate engineer and a certified coach with 25+ years of corporate experience. 
Write to Achal at 
achal@mavraac.com or browse through the website at www.mavraac.com .

© Mavraac . All rights reserved.