I love classical music, especially some of the compositions from masters of the past. Although I have plenty of recorded music, nothing quite compares to actually attending a concert – the anticipation of the audience, hearing professionals tune their instruments, then silence before the applause as the conductor walks out to take his bow. The patrons’ mobile phones get turned to “silent” and the conductor gathers the attention of the members of the orchestra. Probably between seventy to over one hundred musicians apply many years of study and practice to the interpretation of the score, intending to produce a magnificent performance.

It is fascinating to watch the conductor – not doing the work for the individual musicians, but managing to pull together their creativity and professionalism to finesse a production fit for a king. The conductor’s job, primarily, is to extract the genius of the individual artists and combine their respective offerings to represent the intentions of the original composer. With this goal in mind, the conductor is able to control the mood, emotion and drama of the piece and ultimately its impact on the audience.

The manager, likewise, has a similar role to play when working with other managers and employees to accomplish organisational imperatives. This role, a facilitator responsibility, includes some or more of the following activities:

  1. The facilitator makes it less complicated for discussions to be accomplished – the word ‘facilitate’ means “make it easier” and implies a more straightforward process to reach agreement or make decisions (the conductor makes it easier for everyone to play their respective parts).
  2. The facilitator manages the method of any meeting with the same emphasis that the agenda content is discussed – of course, the content needs to be kept on track and aligned to the objectives of the meeting, but method is all important to ensure that all feel safe and are actually involved in collaboration attempts (the conductor manages both the timing of the score as well as the expected nuanced contributions from every section of the orchestra).
  3. Facilitators are equally concerned about how decisions are made and what decisions are reached – following on the above point, it is true that the quality of the decisions made is important, but the inclusivity of the decision-making process is also critical (during practise sessions, the conductor may solicit opinions from members of the orchestra).
  4. The facilitator processes misperceptions and emotional reactions – reading between the lines is all important in understanding the feelings of the employees (the conductor deals with any emotion so that members are focused for the performance).
  5. The facilitator should be unruffled by ambiguity and challenges – facilitate your way around these seeming impasses by stating and asking: “That’s an interesting point – what do the rest of you think about it?”

Accomplishing organisational imperatives is the ultimate goal of any management intervention – the manager should plan meetings to achieve these company objectives. Using the talent that already exists amongst employees in the company, managers “conduct” the contributions, thus making it easier to reach decisions.

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