You are on page 1of 2

1

FACILITATIONANDGROUNDRULES

ImTomRomito.ImafacilitatorandIworkwithorganizationsthatwanttoimprove
themselves.Thisshortpaperisabouthoworganizationscangethighresultsinmeetingsthatare
governedbygroundrulesandledbyafacilitator.

Groundrulesgovernthebehaviorofpeopleinameeting.Withouthavingsomegroundrules,
meetingscanbecomechaotic.Theproblemwithgroundrulesisthattheyaresometimestoo
numerousandartificialtoinspirepeopletoactuallyabidebythem.Forinstance,oneofthefirst
groundrulespeopleignoreistonotinterrupteachother.Whileitsanimportantgroundrule,
peopleinahighenergygrouphavethetendencytorunroughshodoveroneanother.Thereare
twosolutionstothiscommonproblem.Oneistohaveaskilledfacilitatortopolicegroup
behavior.Theotheristosetjustafewgroundrulesthatsetthestageforgroupwork.

WhenIfacilitateameeting,Iaskpeoplewhatgroundrulestheywouldliketohave,andwelist
themforeveryonetosee.ThenIsetafewgroundrulesofmyownthatenablemetomodelthe
behaviorIwantpeopletoemulate.Herearemybasicgroundrules:

Themeetingstartsontime
.Ibeginthemeetingwithwhoeverhasshownupbythe
appointedhour.Ihavebegunmeetingswithonlyonepersonintheroom,asiftheroomwasfull
ofpeople.Iintegrateothersintomyprocesswhentheyarrive,buttheyknowtheyarelate.

Everyoneworks
.Ipracticetheprincipleofinclusion.ThatmeansIgeteveryoneinthe
roominvolvedinthediscussion.Idontletanyonegetawaywithbeinganobserver.If
theyreintheroom,theyregoingtoparticipate.Ienforcethisgroundrulesimplybydrawing
themout.SomepeoplegointoshockwhentheydiscoverthatIwantthemtoofferanopinion.I
helpthemtosaywhattheythink,andmostpeoplearegratifiedthatItakethetimetoinclude
theminthediscussion.Thegroundruletendstogetpeopletocomebacktofollowonmeetings.

Nothingisfree
.Thisisacorollarytothepreviousgroundrule.Mystyleistoprompt
peopletocontributetothediscussionandcapturetheirobservationsonflipcharts.Butthereisa
limittomypromptingandwriting.Mostofmyworkshopslendthemselvestousingbreakout
groups.Thistechniquegetspeopleoutoftheirchairs,walkingtodesignatedplaces,and
workingonsomefacetoftheissueathandinsmallergroups.Ivisitthebreakoutgroupsto
ensuretheyareontrack,working,andreturnontimetothemainmeetingareawithsomethingto
reporttothewholegroup.Thisgroundrulekeepseveryoneengaged,alert,andcontributingto

BuildingCapacityinYourOrganization
2015TomRomito,Facilitator,Cleveland,OH44109USA
Email:
thomasmromito@gmail.com
Web:

http://www.tomromito.com

theresult.AnotherpartofmystyleisthatIwillchastisethegroupifpeoplearerude,
discourteous,ordisrespectfultoothers.Iwilldothiscollectively,butIcanalsochastisepeople
individuallywithoutoffendingthem,becausetheyknowImtheretomaintainruleandget
thingsdoneontime.Thisgroundruleacknowledgesthatmeetingsarehardworkandeveryone
hastocontributetomakemeetingssuccessful.

Themeetingendsontime
.Whenthedesignatedtimecomes,themeetingisover.Ifwe
arenotdoneandwehavetoscheduleafollowonsession,wetakeupatthattimewhereweleft
offattheendofthelastmeeting.Peopleseethatthisisaseriousendeavor.

Whenwepracticegroundrules,peopletendtoseetheimportanceofattendance,timeliness,and
considerationofothers.Asaresult,meetingsareproductive.

BuildingCapacityinYourOrganization
2015TomRomito,Facilitator,Cleveland,OH44109USA
Email:
thomasmromito@gmail.com
Web:

http://www.tomromito.com