Facilitator as a Profession without Proper Training PDF Print E-mail

May 2009 - The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator eNewsletter

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Facilitator as a Profession without Proper Training | Gary Rush Facilitation

While at the IAF North America conference in Vancouver and the Southern New England Chapter PMI Conference in Hartford, we had a number of Facilitators come to our display table. We asked them who had trained them as Facilitators and a common response was, “I learned on the job”. If someone can self-define him or herself as a “Facilitator” without proper training, it’s difficult to justify calling this a profession. This troubles me given that I’ve been working hard to get organizations to view Facilitator as a profession.


My concern with “I learned on the job” is that it is a hit or miss method where mistakes are perpetuated and there is no consistency – trial and error. It demeans the skills developed by those who, through proper "Facilitator" training, spent a great deal of effort learning their skill. “I learned on the job” (unstructured) is very different from “on the job training” (structured). The former lacks any obvious principle of organization while the latter is a purposeful approach.


Let’s look at the Project Manager. Project Managers were in the same position 20 plus years ago. This has changed due to the influence of PMI and the growth of the Project Management Professional (PMP) designation. This has made it less likely that one would simply call him or herself a Project Manager. Today, Project Managers receive proper training because organizations realize the importance of their skills.


This needs to extend to Facilitators as well and through the influence of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) and their Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF) designation, this also will change.


Different Types of Facilitator Training


Not all Facilitators are the same. The required level of training is different. They are:


  • Practitioner
  • Professional
  • Master




A Practitioner is one who uses facilitation skills in his or her job, such as Project Managers, Business Analysts, and others, who want to improve communication to achieve commitment and support from stakeholders – so needed for business success. Practitioners need what is often referred to as facilitation “soft” skills that are not learned by trial and error, but through proper training. These skills become a set of business, leadership and interpersonal skills that enhance the skills of any PMP (Project Management Professional) and CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) and add value to their job.




A Professional Facilitator is one who focuses on facilitation as a profession. Professional Facilitators may facilitate a strategic plan, business requirements, team building, problem solving, decision-making, requirements elicitation, etc. They should be working towards their Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) designation to receive professional recognition that will give them a competitive edge (more and more organizations will not hire Facilitators unless they are certified) and it helps bring additional credibility to their job. Again, these skills are not learned by trial and error; these skills require extensive training. It needs to cover the facilitation “soft” skills as well as:


  • People and Process Tools.
  • Workshop/Meeting Process and the Emotional Group Cycle Process - the process design must be holistic.
  • Process Development and Structured Agenda Development.


It is important for Professional Facilitators to continue learning and stay abreast of new trends and methods –required to maintain their professional designation.


Note: You will notice that I didn’t mention anything about industry content. That is because Project Managers, Business Analysts, and Facilitators are process experts and their skills are transferable to any industry – i.e., project management, business analysis, and facilitation are the same regardless of the industry. They are successful when they are able to guide their group through a facilitative process to accomplish their task.




A Master Facilitator is one who has developed a high level of proficiency in the profession. They are:


  • Knowledgeable about the history, theory, concepts, and techniques of the Facilitator profession.
  • Versatile - they facilitate a wide variety of situations and processes.
  • Mentors to others.


Those destined to become Masters, continue to learn through proper training to develop a deeper understanding of "why" they do what they do.


Note: The IAF is the only internationally recognized, non-profit, industry association for Facilitators. It has the only non-commercial certification process and certification must remain non-commercial, association-based to be effective.




For "Facilitator" to be a true profession, it needs to be taken seriously. It cannot be, “I learned on the job”. You must seek out proper Facilitator training that gives you the effective skills necessary to perform your job effectively and successfully. It takes effort, effective training, and continuous learning.


The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator Academy provides complete and comprehensive training on the concepts of Holistic Facilitation.


FoCuSeD™ On… provides effective facilitation skills and tools geared towards Project Managers, Business Analysts, and others necessary to drive the overall business.logo