“Remember, we may live in a new world, but the old rules still apply. Powerful communications has ALWAYS been about getting people to pay attention and take action.” – Fard Johnmar
When I was considering what to tell you about what we do, I was hard pressed not to simply put “DREAM”. Because in many ways, my team and I dream about the environment, about sustainability, about helping others achieve the same, and then we do our best to make it happen. But in order to describe our work with a bit more clarity, perhaps this will help:
If you want to ensure that your decision making, strategic planning, team building and/or stakeholder discussions are successful, you need a facilitator to help guide you to your end goals. Though facilitating a meeting may look simple, it requires a unique skill set that combines knowledge, experience, pre-planning, planning, more planning, judgement and leadership all combined.
Our GAEL team stands by our own rules of engagement for facilitating any meeting or activity:
- Be ABSOLUTELY clear on what the outcomes should be…know what the client wants to walk away with from the meeting.
- Anticipate and plan for any eventuality…anything from a late lunch, lack of power for a projector screen, bad lighting to disgruntled participants. Have Plan B, C and as many other letters as possible.
- Be flexible, and able to change gears, directions or the entire process mid stream.
- Listen to EVERYONE.
- Capture and record everything verbatim. Ensure that each participant can see his or her words on the screen, flip chart and in the documentation following the facilitated session.
- Build trust…between the facilitator and the participants, and among participants;
- Use team building activities, trust building activities and have a strong understanding of group dynamics.
- Have fun, with a focused purpose.
Outreach and Engagement: Many organizations are steering away from formal education and training, and incorporating outreach and engagement into their vernacular. GAEL recognizes the value of outreach and engagement strategies to develop knowledge, motivation, skills and values to make a different for an organization and its stakeholders. We work closely with our clients to map out effective strategies, using the following to ensure that we have sufficient information upon which to help formulate those strategies:
- surveys (both online and in person) to uncover quantitative and qualitative information necessary for planning purposes;
- interviews (in-person, phone, Skype or video conferencing) to acquire additional information;
- needs assessments to collect and analyze critical training information
- stakeholder workshopsthat allow for issue discussion, sharing of ideas, needs and values, collection feedback and future planning
Research and Reporting: Every project that we undertaken requires some level of research and associated reporting. We pride ourselves in having remarkable in-house research capabilities for any and all projects. The resulting reports from the research are presented professionally, and we pride ourselves on having first-class in-house design capabilities for all reports, documents and projects undertaken.
My team of colleagues and friends are truly the best facilitators, researchers, program developers and trainers that are available in this country. True, I may be biased, but my clients are not. They have continually confirmed that this group is exceptional in the service they provide.
All clients want expertise and experience when they contract an individual or organization to help them move forward. For the GAEL team, we recognize that clients also want someone who listens carefully and responds by providing the services that enhance their project. They want a consultant who is flexible and able to adapt to their wants and needs, explore options and opportunities, and provide them with something even better than what they had anticipated. Each member of the GAEL team can interact with our clients, understand what they want, and with a relaxed and accommodating approach, deliver what is required. And more.
Each member shares many of the same attributes, but also brings something different to the table. We have bilingual facilitation, editorial accuracy and expertise, evaluation experience, lay-out and design brilliance, and more. And all of this at the local, provincial and national scales.