This article shares insights into best practices, phrases, do’s and don’ts of the art of facilitation in Holacracy. You can treat it as a ‘cheat sheet’ for a Facilitator. The content was gathered during the Learning Community Event #3 that took place on April 5th 2017 – hosted at Springest.  

Here you are! Some Facilitator tips on the go!

As a Facilitator, remember…

  • You’re there to facilitate the process (not the people)
  • You need to trust the process, just follow it, when you start to feel stressed or lost, just get back to the proces (use your card to role model for others!)
  • Be aware of the old hierarchy, make sure we talk in Roles, when someone is turning towards a former manager, stop and ask ‘In which role are you engaging him/her?’
  • Stay objective as a facilitator with a neutral energy
  • Clarify if the agenda item is indeed covered: ask ‘Is the tension gone’, ‘is your agenda item solved’, ‘did you get what you needed?’
  • For the tactical, probably most useful question is: ‘What do you need..?’ – If you feel that an agenda item holder is not specific enough, or the description goes on for too long (taken into consideration the time that’s given for the meeting) – remind them with this question that we’re looking for the need that might be served in order to help them.
  • We process one tension at a time (always: TM, GM alike). If someone interrupts with their tension, remind them that we focus on one tension at a time, and invite them to take care of their own tension separately (for example, in the objection round someone objects and the objection is not valid as it’s based on a tension that already exists, invite a circle member to add a tension to the agenda or bring it  to another meeting).
  • Objection Round: if there is an objection, before moving to testing it, try to clarify and ask ‘What is the harm?’ or ‘How does it move us backward?’. This way you know what you’ll be testing.
  • Tactical, Project Updates: remember, it’s not about the general status, so be firm and ask ONLY for what has changed since the last meeting. Don’t be afraid to cut off people if you see that they are going lengthy and off the topic.
  • Governance testing Proposals: Remember that we test the proposals as well. Ask ‘Give me an example of a situation from the past, in which this change that you propose, if already in place, would have helped your role?’, ‘Which role would be helped?’. Check the constitution for more info!
facilitator hans at kaliber meeting

Useful phrases/questions for the Facilitator

  • Tactical: ‘What is the next step?’, ‘What could help you at this point?’ ‘are you looking for an action? Or a project?’ ‘Is your need something that might be served by someone else’s action/project? Or is it something now actionable?’
  • Clarifying Question round: ‘We listen & learn here’ ‘We understand better’ This is the goal of this round.
  • We honour each other and give each tension our full attention. Remind people about this when you see tensions being raised not in their slot. ‘It sounds like another tension? Is that right?’ ‘Please place an agenda item for you tension and let’s focus now on helping X in Marketing role to get what she needs’
  • Always catch when people use names ‘Which role are you asking?’

Nice to have/nice to experiment with:

  • If people are new to the circle and Holacracy, remind them that there are cards they can look up. Also, make more framing so they understand better what is happening.
  • Time management – maybe have a clock somewhere
  • The body language is important for a facilitator
  • Have example questions with you if you don’t feel comfortable yet as the facilitator.
  • Before someone starts about their item, help to clarify for everyone which role is speaking
  • Standing up meetings are more crisp
  • If you have a role that has a tension and you’re a facilitator as well, it’s good to prepare yourself with your tension so it’s easier for you. Or hand in the facilitation to someone else for your agenda item.
  • It’s good to use framing, even if you have experienced people in the circle.
  • Energy is important – maybe try standing up when facilitating, or walk in the room during the meeting! Try out things and see what helps you!

Helpful Checklist items for  your tactical meeting:

  • No laptops & phones
  • Are there any newbies at this meeting?
  • Everyone has a post it and pen to write down stuff

Photos: Holacracy meeting at Spindle and Kaliber



Author

Gabriela Krupa is a certified Holacracy coach at Energized.org. She is a steward of the Learning Community role with a goal of creating a connected and learning community of Energized.org clients (we like to call them partner organizations).

gabriela krupa