What's the Difference Between Training and Facilitation?


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This question often leads to fierce debate, understandably since they have similarities.

However, I assert that the differences are significant.

In a nutshell, I further assert that training is the delivery of content, either not previously known by or not remembered by, or unfamiliar to the recipients, whilst facilitation is the elicitation of content already known or discoverable or creatable, from the participants.

There exists another description of the differences, which I feel has led to the debate: “Training is about content whilst facilitation is about process. " In my opinion this description is too vague since training involves process as well, whereas facilitation has implied content, in the form desired outcomes.

Both require planning, and choices of methodology or process, and well formed outcomes.

Both require skills in rapport building, contextualising, questioning listening and describing.

Training requires content expertise of a high order and facilitation requires process expertise of a high order.

Facilitation requires higher levels of permission, trust, conflict management and inquiry management skills, since elicitation of the desired outcomes involves gaining agreement about knowledge already held or created by participants, whereas training seeks acceptance of unfamiliar knowledge being presented to recipients.

So another way of distinguishing training from facilitation is to see whether the people being served are more recipients or more participants.

However there is no doubt that trainers can effectively use facilitation to ensure recipients of the training embody and own the learning. This mainly occurs after knowledge or skills have been presented. So many trainers have a facilitative approach to their craft.

Facilitators on the other hand may use training techniques to confirm and embed elicited or created knowledge, but after discovery.

Significant differences between training and facilitation are: -

Trainers are accepted as having expertise in the content and can be more authoritative in the delivery, and must remain present to both quality of content transferred and state and behaviour of recipients, to ensure optimum learning.

Facilitators do not necessarily have expertise in the content and must earn acceptance and trust in being able to elicit it from the participants. Agreement must be sought from participants as to how the elicitation will occur. The facilitator must remain detached from the content being elicited but very present to the state and behaviour of participants to ensure optimum discovery and agreement.

Facilitators are more intent on discovery and gaining agreement, trainers are more intent on transferring knowledge and skills. Both are equally valuable in the process of development and improvement of people. Both are worth their weight in platinum.

Professionals should be clear about and skilled in both, and most importantly, know when to train and when to facilitate.

David Deane-Spread is a director and CEO behaviour specialist. He developed the training method for Attitudinal Competence and authored the system “Master the Power of Your Attitudes". An expert trainer and facilitator, David works with his clients’ senior leadership team to deliver excessive ROI (returns on investment).

Visit David at http://www.daviddeane-spread.com

See also http://www.rapidimprovement.com.au/factts.html


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