Learning facilitation

What are these qualities? What are the behaviours?

Lets’ start with the behaviours, or skills, if you like. This is what facilitators do when with a group…

  • Challenge habitual thinking and behaviour
  • Hold space
  • Model behaviours
  • Notice and reflect back
  • Look for opportunities to get out of the way

Do I hear a how? How do facilitators do all of this? By…

  • Selecting appropriate activities and processes
  • Providing a suitable environment/space
  • Keeping track of time and progress
  • Clarifying, questioning, sometimes challenging and summarising
  • Being non-partisan, not taking sides, not having pre-determined answers/outcomes
  • Ensuring the group does the work
  • Ensuring that the group’s work is captured, when necessary (which implies knowing when that is)

Hmmm….Is that all there is to facilitating? What distinguishes pedestrian facilitation from great facilitation?

Maybe it’s the personal qualities, or attitudes, that facilitators bring…

  • Humility
  • Empathy
  • Bravery and a willingness to fail gracefully
  • Playfulness
  • Presence
  • Curiosity
  • Flexibility
  • Responsiveness

If I’m learning to be a facilitator, I probably want to learn the how (processes, techniques, tip and tricks) first. Then I’d want to know about application, when and why I would use one and not the other. Problem is, learning is not linear. It happens in loops and leaps, in small moments of clarity, in confusion and messiness. In other words, learning, and meaning, emerges. It can’t be structured in a way that makes sense to everyone because everyone learns differently (and no, I’m not thinking learning styles – that’s been well and truly debunked).

Here’s the dilemma. While learning is non-linear, the training is. It starts on Monday, finishes on Friday. Each day has a start and an end. We progress from one day to the next. Doing what? There’s no end of choices really.

It’s the curse of the agenda: in advance, we’ll decide we’ll do this, then that, then something else. I don’t know until I’m in the room with the group what the group really needs. The group becomes its own learning laboratory – it has within it all the complexity and messiness of any group of humans. It comes down to the curse of planning. We have the ability to think ahead, to plan what we’ll do. In many cases that’s a sensible thing to do. If I have to catch a plane I need to plan when to get to the airport, and make sure I go to the right airport. The consequences of not planning are pretty clear. I can apply the same thinking to working with a group of people. I can plan certain things – when we’ll start, when we’ll finish, where we will meet, when we will break for lunch, why we are meeting. It’s harder to plan for what might happen with a group of people, especially once I use a process that is participatory. If I follow a plan meticulously, I might miss some opportunity, or something important. If I have no plan at all…

I’ll need to draw on my ability to be spontaneous and improvise, to use what’s available (including the people in the room) combined with my own skills and knowledge of facilitation.

If an agenda is not so helpful, what is? Learning outcomes? At the end of this training, you will be able to…will understand…will know… Hmmm… There might be a shift towards these things. Learning may happen during the training. Most likely it won’t. It might happen next time one of them is in front of a group. Who am I to determine what learning you need? Nope, learning outcomes don’t help me.

In the end I need to do what I usually do – start somewhere, see what happens. Notice. Respond. Do something else. Explain what I’m doing and why. Provide opportunities to experience different approaches (processes) – not just watch, actually be a part of them, exploring topics that illuminate even more about working with groups. I need to be prepared for a number of possible approaches and to offer a rich and diverse, human, experience that enables people to learn at their own pace, to struggle in their own way, to allow meaning and insight to emerge by providing space and opportunities for them to make their own meaning, rather than me impose my meaning.

The topic of facilitation is so large, I need some anchors, some boundaries: time is one (a one-day course is very different from a five-day course); the participants and their current level of understanding is another (I won’t know that until I work with them). Briefing from the client? Can be unreliable, especially if they’re not sure themselves what they want. Facilitation principles? Too abstract. Qualities of a facilitator? Too obscure.

117871 Train the Trainer Course




*         Schedule ample time for planning

*         Take some time to get to know each other

*         Discuss each other’s style of planning and facilitating

*         Avoid making assumptions about one another

*         Take time to discuss your views about the workshop topic

*         Especially examine areas of disagreement

*         Discuss any concerns about potential challenges that participants may present

*         Agree on common goals for workshop

*         Review each other’s triggers

*         Find out whether and when it is okay to interrupt

*         Decide how to keep track of time

*         Strategize about how to stick to the original outline and how to switch gears

*         Plan ways to give signals to one another

*         Divide facilitation of activities fairly

*         Share responsibility equally in preparing and bringing workshop materials and resources

*         Agree to arrive at the workshop site in time to set up and check-in before the workshop begins

*         Schedule time after the workshop to debrief



*         Remember to keep a professional demeanor at all times

*         Keep communicating with each other throughout the workshop

*         Support and validate one another

*         During activities that don’t require constant attention, check-in with one another

*         Include your co-facilitator even when you are leading an exercise or discussion, by asking, for example: “Do you have anything to add?”

*         Use lots of eye contact

*         Assert yourself if your co-facilitator is talking too much

*         Remember that it is okay to make mistakes

*         Take the initiative to step in if your co-facilitator misses an opportunity to address a myth



*         If you can’t meet right after the workshop, schedule a time to debrief before you leave

*         Listen carefully to one another’s self-evaluation before giving feedback

*         Discuss what worked well

*         Examine what did not work

*         Brainstorm what could have been done differently

*         Use written evaluations as a reference point to talk about the workshop, and assess your effectiveness as co-facilitators

*         Name particular behaviors, for example: “When you kept interrupting me, I felt undermined and frustrated”, or “I got the impression that some participants were bored”, instead of “You always interrupt me” or “You were very controlling during the workshop.”

*         Realize the importance and potential difficulty of debriefing a challenging workshop

*         Make sure to share any clean-up or return of resource materials


Introduction to Facilitation Course

Introduction to Facilitation Course

Facilitation is a technique used by trainers to help learners acquire, retain, and apply knowledge and skills. Participants are introduced to content and then ask questions while the trainer fosters the discussion, takes steps to enhance the experience for the learners, and gives suggestions. They do not, however, do the work for the group; instead, they guide learners toward a specific learning outcome.

What is the importance of facilitator course?

In this context, facilitation can help a group improve how they work together, identify and solve problems, make decisions, and handle conflict. The role of the facilitator is to guide the group to work together more efficiently by creating synergy, generating new ideas, and arriving at consensus and agreement.
The importance of quality facilitator course skills can be seen across industries.

Within education, the same trends can be seen. As classrooms shift away from teaching students mainly rote facts and knowledge that they need to memorize and shift more towards teaching students the skills they need to thrive in the work environment alongside core knowledge, facilitator skills only become more important.

“Those with facilitation skills can help to bring about
an environment of learning and collaboration.”

They help to encourage those in the space to work together and see what they can accomplish jointly. Educators and leaders want to encourage those within their group to have the mindset that will encourage them to continue to look at the situation from new perspectives, to have the skills to try a variety of different solutions, and the understanding of how to work with others to find a solution that will help them thrive.

“Facilitation lies at the core of intellectual stimulation and helping students
to develop their competencies both in the classroom and then out in the work environment.”

The benefits of facilitation course skills

When leaders and educators take the time to learn more about facilitation skills and how to implement them in the work or learning environment, they will find that they can experience a variety of benefits. Here are some of the main advantages that many will experience as they incorporate these skills into their environment.

Facilitator course is essential to successful team and group work. That means it is also critical to organisational success, especially given the presence of conflict in organisations. Conflict is a natural part of working in a team. While conflict may at first seem destructive and may not feel very comfortable, it can be creative.

Conflict can help teams and organisations to take an innovative approach to products, services, processes and solutions. But conflict needs managing effectively so that it remains part of a creative rather than destructive process. This is where effective facilitation is extremely helpful to keep the team on track, keep relationships intact, and successful outcomes achieved for the business.

Facilitators have the role of easing a process. This is not always easy, especially if there are strong feelings on different sides. Facilitators should take a neutral position and focus on the process that gets a group, or even just two people to achieve an objective. Everyone in the organisation benefits from good facilitation skills. Those that benefit from most are likely to be team leaders and supervisors, or those leading projects. Facilitator course skills enable a team to arrive at a satisfactory outcome with different stakeholders involved, different agendas and varied preferred outcomes, .

Plan for Facilitation


2.1 Sector and Workplace Skills Plans

The Skills Development Act (Act No. 97 of 1998) and the Skills Development Levies Act


(Act No. 9 of 1999) require SETAs to comply with the following:

  • Develop a sector skills plan
  • Implement the sector skills plan
  • Promote, develop and administer learner ships
  • Support the implementation of the NQF
  • Undertake quality assurance
  • Disburse levies collected from employers in their sector
  • Report to the Director General and to SAQA


These acts require employers to:

  • Register with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to pay the Skills

Development Levy, equivalent to 1% of total annual remuneration

  • Register a Skills Development Facilitator (SDF) with the relevant SETA
  • Submit a Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) to the relevant SETA
  • Implement the Workplace Skills Plan (WSP)
  • Submit levy grant claims to the SETA as per the provisions of the Funding
  • Regulations to access a percentage of the skills development levy, which is intended to promote skills development.


This legal framework and the National Skills Development Strategy are intended to encourage employers to comply with legislation and, by so doing:

  • Contribute to the development of a culture of learning,
  • Help to create a competitive and productive work environment, and
  • Stimulate growth and employment in a sustainable way.


Employers are also required to consult representative structures when compiling their Workplace Skills Plan. The process of consultation must include:

  • An allowance for trade unions to participate in and conduct audits and needs assessments for their members.
  • The disclosure of necessary information as may be requested by trade unions subject to the terms of the LRA.
  • Consultation in departments, sections, or at Labour Forum level before referral to central structures.

The purpose of a Workplace Skills Plan, therefore, is to provide employers with a structured plan which should help them to ensure that skills development is encouraged and takes place at enterprise level.


Workplace Skills Plans also provide the SETA with critical quantitative and qualitative information that enables it:

  • To understand the profile and composition of the sector;
  • To determine skills requirements and priorities across the sector;
  • To develop a clear picture of areas where there is a high demand for skills development – pinpointing areas where Learner ship and Skills Programmes should be developed.


The Workplace Skills Plans submitted by enterprises across the sector therefore serve as one of the primary sources of statistical information and data available to the SETA in the development of its Sector Skill Plan.

Workplace Skills Plan in summary is:

  • A plan developed every year at enterprise level that describes an organisation’s training and skills development strategy that will help it to meet its overall objectives and targets;
  • A key source of information about the sector – in terms of demographics, existing qualifications, and training and development priorities for the forthcoming year;
  • A document that will inform the SETA’s strategic priorities in the development of its Sector Skills Plan




(On Government level)

Retail Sector Skills Plan
Financial Sectors Skills Plan
Mining Sectors Skills Plan
Company 1

Workplace Skills Plan

Company 2

Workplace Skills Plan

Company 3

Workplace Skills Plan

Company 4

Workplace Skills Plan

Company 5

Workplace Skills Plan

Company 6

Workplace Skills Plan


What is outcome based education & training?


The initial principle of OBET is that we should describe education and training programs in terms of measurable exit outcomes we want learners to attain. In HET (and other workplace orientated educational sectors) these outcomes would derive from:

  • Entry level professional expectations (specific knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for entry level into the world of work)
  • The Critical Cross Field Outcomes (the general knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for entry level into the world of work – see below for these)
  • Current and future trends in the world of work (e.g. globalisation with its need for flexibility and innovation in the workplace and society)
  • Institutional focus

These exit level outcomes are too large to be assessed ‘in one go’ so they are broken down into smaller, more measurable outcomes.


  1. Outcomes are demonstrations of learning. They are general in that they either sum up a group of other outcomes or a group of tasks.

Outcomes can demonstrate very general life and work skills such as:

  • Solve problems

General occupational skills such as:

  • Sell products (retail management)
  • Relate engineering activity to environmental problems (engineering)

More focussed occupational or learning skills such as:

  • Approach customers and establish needs (retail management)
  • Relate a local environmental issue to a theoretical issue (engineering)
  1. When we assess outcomes we must make sure that we assess applied competence and that we assess attitudes and values. Attitudes and values typically refer to willingness to work in a group and a hierarchy and to listen and respect the opinions of others, being willing and confident to do tasks, being willing to learn from mistakes and from others (rather than giving up), being culturally sensitive and being environmentally sensitive, amongst others. Many of these attitudes/values are reflected in the CCFOs.
  • The Critical Cross Field Outcomes
  • Solve problems
  • Collect, analyse and organise information
  • Plan and organise one’s own and other’s activities
  • Communicate effectively, including mathematically and graphically
  • Work with others in teams
  • Participate responsibly in communities
  • Use technology
  • Learn from experiences/learn to learn more effectively
  • Show responsibility to others and the environment
  • Develop entrepreneurial abilities
  • Be culturally sensitive



Stakeholders are a group or individuals that are affected by and/or have an interest in the operations and objectives of the business. All the relevant stakeholders must be involved in the process in order to conduct a workplace skills plan within the organisation.

The importance of stakeholders is to support an organisation in achieving its strategic objectives by interpreting and influencing both the external and internal environments and by creating positive relationships with stakeholders through the appropriate management of their expectations and agreed objectives. Stakeholder Management is a process and control that must be planned and guided by underlying Principles.

  • Stakeholder Management, within business or projects, prepares a strategy utilising information (or intelligence) gathered during the following common processes:
  • Stakeholder Identification – Interested parties either internal or external to organisation/project. Stakeholder Analysis – Recognise and acknowledge stakeholder’s needs, concerns, wants, authority, common relationships, interfaces and align this information within the Stakeholder Matrix.
  • Stakeholder Matrix – Positioning stakeholders according to the level of influence, impact or enhancement they may provide to the business or its projects.
  • Stakeholder engagement – It is primarily focused at getting to know and understand each other, at the Executive level. Engagement is the opportunity to discuss and agree expectations of communication and, primarily, agree a set of Values and Principles that all stakeholders will abide by
  • Communicating Information – Expectations are established and agreed upon the manner in which communications are managed between stakeholders – who receives communications, when, how and to what level of detail. Protocols may be established including security and confidentiality classifications.)