One-on-one virtual facilitation coaching

A personal learning path with a leader from Capital Regional District
“Fran’s amazing,” said the voice on the phone. “She’s one of my favourite clients. She’s working so hard to make change in her organization, and she’s an incredible leader, and working hard to navigate these new challenges of facilitating virtually.” 

 The call was from our colleague Hilary, over at Spur Communications, who had been helping the Capital Regional District with a series of community engagement sessions and trainings. They noticed a blocker this group kept running into: how to really engage stakeholders, using online facilitation, in an era of Zoom fatigue. “It seems like something you at Co.school could help them with.”

 When we caught up with Fran, she was already ten steps ahead of most leaders. She never meant to become a “facilitator,” but her work leading people towards new strategic plans naturally involved hosting and leading discussions. Over the years, facilitation became something of a superpower. She was already a savvy strategist, and discovered she had an ability to read the room and synthesize insights on the fly in a way that really helped people feel heard.  

That is, when the facilitation was happening live, in-person, and in the room. When the world shifted to virtual meetings…it was like those superpowers no longer applied. How can you read a room if folks leave their cameras off? How can you synthesize people’s contributions if people aren’t even speaking up? Was this an organization culture problem, or could there be techniques to help change these dynamics? 

To support Fran, we embarked on a journey of one-on-one coaching, while also unleashing access to Co.school’s whole learning library, including our online course, Authentic Facilitation. In our series of sessions together, Fran would bring real, dynamic challenges she was facing, alternating sessions between Charlotte and Kevan. We would explore these realities, ask questions, offer her new tools forward, and encourage her to experiment with alternative approaches. 

The learning went deep, and was quite varied: from topics like holding space for unexpected emotion in meetings, to specific tools to aid the work virtually, to one’s own journey of self-confidence. Throughout the partnership, it was exciting to see Fran’s genuine engagement, and she constantly worked through a feedback loop of learning, applying and trying again, as her confidence and skill improved over time. 

“I’ve been accessing regular coaching for the last six months (already!) and my reflection is that I have noticed that over the last three months in particular, my level of comfort and confidence in facilitating has skyrocketed for both online and in person events. I find it hard to pinpoint exactly what caused the shift – I have tried, tested, failed, and succeeded at many of the things that we’ve discussed over the months – but I think it’s that process of trial-and-error and discussing my experiences with you both that has made me much more confident and I have not felt as reliant/dependent on my on-the-spot analytical skills, which as you know has been a comfort blanket. That confidence means that I’ve been able to take more/better risks, trial new ideas and start changing my practice for the better.

What has been most interesting for me is that this has been happening against a backdrop of fairly significant upheaval and change at work, but that doesn’t seem to have hampered my ability to grow. I have also derived a lot of personal value from having two individuals of your caliber validating some of my experiences as they were happening, even from afar. I feel like a different facilitator today compared to when we started this journey.”

Fran Delgadillo LopezManager, Strategic Planning, Capital Regional District


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