gazette logo
   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

September 4 , 2003

Groupthink to great ideas

Instructor Lynn Morrissey leads a classroom discussion.
Instructor Lynn Morrissey leads a classroom discussion.

Your employees smile and nod when you pass them in the hall, they are quick to agree with you when you make a suggestion, but when you ask them for their opinions, you bump into a wall of blank stares. Like a scene from a Dilbertian sci-fi flick, your employees clam up when you want candour. They go from chatty to chattering teeth with one simple question.

Facilitating a frank discussion can be difficult and disappointing if you don’t flesh out the information you need. Developing effective facilitation skills can help you engage your audience and get more out of your group discussions.

“Everyone in your organization has an opinion; they may even have a solution,” said Lynn Morrissey, a professional facilitator and instructor at the Faculty of Business Administration. “Finding out what your employees and stakeholders think is extremely valuable. There’s no guarantee you’ll get the answers you want to hear, but you will find out what you need to know.” Learning how to moderate group discussions and get the most out of an audience can make you one of your organization’s most valuable assets.

Ms. Morrissey suggests that if you’re involved in issue resolution, strategic planning, problem solving, focus group delivery or process management, sharpening your facilitation skills could give you an edge on corporate communication.

“Group behaviour is fascinating. There are so many different personality types and when you put them in the same room it can be quite interesting. Some people will want to dominate the discussion while others will try to blend into the background. Learning how to overcome group challenges and get input from everyone takes a solid understanding of the facilitation process and practice.”

This October, Memorial University’s Centre for Management Development (CMD) is launching a three-module program designed to meet the need for skilled, effective session leaders and facilitators. The Professional Facilitator Certification Program, which Ms. Morrissey is leading, will explore the facilitation process, offer tools and techniques for overcoming the challenges of working with groups, and give participants practical facilitation experience.

The program is being limited to 12 participants to maximize everyone’s learning potential; however, the CMD has scheduled a fall and winter offering. To register or find out more about the program contact the CMD at 709-737-7977 or visit




Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folklore and Popular Culture

      Top Stories

Campus housing
Michael Rayment (L) and Jiri Husa
Next issue: September 18, 2003

Questions? Comments?
E-mail our editor.