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Why you must try an outside facilitator for a meeting, at least once

By July 18, 2016August 8th, 2017insights

burning-moneyFor your next meeting, use an outside facilitator.

I’m not saying hire us – we’re not the right fit for everyone. But for Pete’s sake (not mine), every company should experiment at least once with using an independent, third-party facilitator for a meeting, retreat or conference.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard employees complain about their boss, management, or other leadership team members. Hell, I’ve done it myself. But any employee who’s ever complained about a leader (all of us) walks into a meeting or retreat with some level of skepticism, often thinking, “What are they going to tell us this time?” “Here we go again,” or, my favorite, “Team building? Are you serious? Where’s the bar?”

As a third party to dozens of businesses, I witness firsthand the steep uphill battle that leaders face when running their own meetings. Will their words sink in? Can they effectively facilitate discussions within their own team? Will team members be truly open and honest in a group session led by their leader? Very often, the answer to those questions is a resounding no.

A lot of pain and wasted money go into ineffective, poorly run meetings or retreats, where the team tunes out the CEO while he or she passionately recites a vision or agenda that nobody hears. Or, in some cases, the discussion is good, but the team is too deep in the trees to see the forest, and they need an outside perspective.

Think about the cost to your business of a two-day retreat/meeting for just 10 people.

  • 10 salaries captive in a room, rather than selling, marketing, creating or delivering your product or service
  • Cost of a meeting venue, with A.V., white boards, flip charts, etc.
  • Cost of at least one breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t forget drinks, too.
  • Flying people in from out of town? Factor in flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and airport parking.

What really gets me is the combined salaries in the room. With those included, you are talking about potentially tens of thousand dollars to get 10 people together for only two days.

If that’s the case, the meeting absolutely needs to be effective to be worth your investment. And if you feel anything, even way down deep in your gut, that makes you think the meeting may not be ultra-efficient and effective, contact a third-party facilitator. The risk of wasting that kind of money is too great.

Instead of rolling the dice, use a facilitator at least once, someone you trust, or who is highly regarded by someone you trust. Maybe it’s a path you’ll continue to pursue, or maybe one time will be enough to empower you with the tools to take the reins.

Don’t set fire to your money. Instead, light a fire in your team.

Pete Honsberger is the director of client services at CultureShoc. If you need assistance on how to build better teams contact him at

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