Reader Feedback: Facilitator vs. Moderator - There's More Need for Training and Education

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Facilitator vs. Moderator

Dan Hebert addressed one of my favorite subjects [“Get Others to See It Your Way,” Jan08, p25]. I’ve been a strong advocate of having a meeting facilitator as opposed to a moderator.

There are similarities. However, the facilitator approach is much more effective. I began to study those who moderated meetings and took special notice when things went amok. A moderator simply acts as a policeman directing protocol via Robert’s Rules of Order, but a facilitator does much more. They provide an atmosphere free of intimidation by higher-ranking people in the group.

I’ve conducted meetings with two to 350 folks in attendance, from vice presidents to custodians. The most-effective way is to accept and encourage input from all in attendance. Suggestions are logged on a whiteboard for all to see. A compromise of the best ideas is reached, and all agree to support the final proposal and work to implement it.

For much of my career I was a lowly draftsman with a two-year degree, but outside of work I belonged to several volunteer organizations where I was able to hone my skills. When my big break came I was ready and blew the doors off of management. I suggested to my supervisor that training was necessary following a merger that doubled—and shortly we added employees enough that tripled—the department’s size. He referred me to the vice president of engineering, and when all was said and done, I trained 90 coworkers. Following the very successful training, I was recruited as a member of the steering committee of the QIP and ISO 9000 efforts. I was asked to lead the facilitators, and I wrote the manual and trained a staff of 35 facilitators company-wide.

Jack R. Jones, field sales representative,
Fleetwood Industrial Products

Train the Brain

It was a very good idea for Dan Hebert to point out the need for training and education in the field of automation [“How to Build an Automation Professional,” Feb08, p38].  You know how much “new stuff” is being developed that requires training at some level.  As an employee of Pepperl+Fuchs and a board member of AS-Interface USA, I would make the following comments.

  • For many year we’ve offered our customers application-specific training for our products. This means once the customer has determined to purchase certain hardware components and systems from P+F, we offer training that focuses on the exact application.
  • From an AS-Interface USA point of view, you should know that, in 2008, for the third time, we have scheduled six all-day ASi training seminars. These are highly technical hands-on seminars. It is very typical that application problems are discussed, sometimes off-line, sometimes with the entire group.

Throughout the day, we have four speakers from competing companies, and participants sometimes do not even know which company an individual works for. We take neutrality very seriously.

I feel very passionately about education in general, and it is my firm belief that knowledge will be our only chance to retain our standard of living in the long run.

Helge Hornis, Manager
Intelligent Systems Group
Pepperl+Fuchs

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