While the focus on this question for the people we are hosting the call for is usually “it doesn't matter as long as I am learning”, it can be important for the person who is leading the call to be aware of what they are doing - training, coaching or facilitating. A key question the “facilitator” can be asking to dig a little deeper is - “Who is driving the bus?” Who is the one that is shaping the direction, and content of the call?"
While this may be overly simplistic, a great starting point for understanding the “director” of the call is to consider who is “driving” and shaping the conversation.
In coaching, a fundamental premise is that the person being coached should create with the coach (and others) the direction of the call, and their content knowledge should form the foundation of the conversation. The coach is not there to share a lot of content, but rather use any content to “Spark” the conversation. Coaches focus deeply on Goal Setting, and supporting the deepened awareness around “things below the waterline”, things like values, beliefs, assumptions, perspectives. Coaching is rarely a one-off conversation, and usually has multiple touch points.
In training, or a webinar in the virtual space, we lean into the content we bring. We are measured on this, and while we want to poll our group members for what they want to learn, the content may also be shaped by the organization. Training is typically content-rich, and in that respect the trainer may be driving the bus a majority of the time, handing off the “wheel” as new skills are acquired, so that bus members get practice.
Facilitation comes from the Latin word “facilis”. It means “to become easy”. Part of the facilitator’s role virtually is to help people clarify the focus of the conversation, and how they want to move from a to b. A facilitation may be more apt to be a one-off conversation, and usually uses process to help engage the conversation, especially with bigger groups.
Who is driving the bus in your virtual conversations? Are there any changes you want to make to this?
For more on these distinctions between coaching, training and facilitating, check out any of my first three books – Effective Group Coaching (2010), Effective Virtual Conversations (2017) or From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (2013).
Enjoy your conversations,
Leadership | Teamwork | Business Success
Author of multiple books including Effective Virtual Conversations (2017), PlanDoTrack (2018) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (2013)
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