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Blog Highlight: The Power of Co-Facilitators

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When you’ve been facilitating and coordinating a Sexual Assault Response Team for a while, there can come a point when you see emerging leadership on the team. You might find that some folks want to up their responsibility with the team, others are naturally prone to listen to them, or something else entirely. You might be a new coordinator and immediately recognize the need for co-facilitation with your team. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to assess your team and the needs before making a decision to use facilitation. Working with teams, I have seen this strategy work wonders to energize and engage team members. The key is not to hand over all coordination, but to wisely use the skills and personality present to enhance your work.

How does it work? Great question! There are a number of ways you can go about making use of a facilitator. Here are some ways I’ve seen coordinators engage co-facilitators:

  • Team Discussion Lead-the person responsible for keeping people focused and on task in team meetings. The one to say, “Hey, let’s table that for next time.” It’s hard to coordinate, facilitate, and lead a team. Engaging another person who is skilled at keeping the conversation on topic and the work products coming in can be vital to team success.
  • Meeting facilitator-this is especially helpful for a rural SART where the team coordinator also has to serve in the capacity of representing their agency/discipline. By designing the meeting and allowing the other party to facilitate, this allows the coordinator to manage the many hats they must wear. It can also be beneficial for newer coordinators or ones who feel they don’t have much sway with the group.
  • Sub-Committee Chairs-the subcommittee can be exceptionally useful for large and veteran teams to accomplish focused work. The subcommittee chair can hold the responsibility of leading the subcommittee meetings and producing the related work products. Or they may be responsible for report backs to the larger SART.
  • Co-Coordinator-this is an especially useful tactic when your coordination is not paid and you have limited time to plan and manage. This takes significantly more front-end work, but having a second person to help plan and run every element of the team can lighten the work load in the long term.

These are just some of the ways I’ve seen shared leadership used in really effective ways. It’s key to understand that this approach is not for everyone and doesn’t solve all the challenges. It’s one strategy of many that you can choose from to meet your team needs.

If you’ve done something different in co-facilitating a group and it worked, please leave your ideas in the comments! Questions or thoughts? Leave those in the comments, too!