Synergy Alberta recommends that synergy groups access the expertise and experience that a professional facilitator can bring to the table. Past experience has shown that skilled facilitation by someone who is experienced in synergy and community group development can be key to the success of new groups. Synergy Alberta can provide you with assistance in this area.

Some groups hire a facilitator to work with them continually throughout their synergy processes (regular meetings, public events, etc.), while others hire a facilitator for specific projects such as creating a vision and mission, strategic planning, public input on new developments or for large public events.

Why use a facilitator?

A facilitator…

  1. manages meetings and synergy processes in a neutral, unbiased, objective manner.
  2. guides the group through problem-solving and decision-making.
  3. helps bring people together in a collaborative way, initially and throughout the group's tenure to ensure that the group remains collaborative and efficiently organized.
  4. helps balance participation between outgoing and quieter group members, makes sure everyone hears and is heard and helps groups work through contentious and often emotional issues.
  5. helps a group to identify goals, select activities and stay on track (both during meetings and throughout its existence).
  6. helps group members to work through agenda items in a timely fashion. Keeping meetings effective is important in keeping the entire group effective and maintaining the members' interest.
  7. is often trained in dealing effectively with conflict and can be key to a group formed in response to a contentious issue being able to move forward effectively while continuing to build relationships between members.

What are the differences between facilitation, mediation and arbitration?

Facilitation is providing process guidance to a meeting, or series of meetings of a particular group. Facilitation promotes collaboration among participants while having effective and efficiently run meetings. Facilitators are trained to handle conflict situations as they occur.

Mediation is process for resolving conflict which is best described as assisted, face-to-face discussion between the parties who are in conflict. The parties involved shape their own outcome or agreement. Mediators are neutral third parties who are specifically trained to guide the parties through a process to resolve their issues.

Arbitration is also a process for resolving conflict. However, arbitration involves a third party who makes a decision for the two parties in conflict. It is a formal process, which requires input from the participants, although they have no input into the decision.