One Hat At a Time

Hats for Facilitator Success

We love the metaphor of 'The Many Hats We Wear.'  When you step into the role of group facilitator (regardless of your official title as coach, trainer, teacher, process consultant, expert, team leader, etc.) you soon realize that excelling in this role requires drawing on the strengths and perspectives of many different hats.   For a novice in group dynamics, the multitude of hats can be disorienting and burdensome.  The process if becoming a masterful group-worker is about mastering one perspective at a time so that each hat no longer feels like a role, but becomes a reflex.

One tool we found years ago that we love is called One Hat At A Time.  This tool is a deck of cards that has pictures of different hats on one side, then processing questions related to each hat on the other side.

Here are a few of my favorite Hat metaphors that relate to Group Facilitation:

Police Hat:  Use boundaries to cause the desired environment.  Create ground rules that protect, preserve and uphold the culture of willingness, shared responsibility and lightness.  Help make it a safe environment for all in the learning community.

Detective Hat:  Know your audience.  Before you meet a group for the first time, put on your detective hat and see what you can find out about them ahead of time.  Why are they comiong to your session?  What are their goals and interests in what you have to offer them?  Heighten your powers of observation.  Observe people closely as they interact with each other throughout the day.  What clues do they give you about their interest, comfort level, desire to be there, willingness to participate?

Miners Hat:  Mine for the gems--the learnings, insights and inspired actions that emerge from the exercise.  Provide some structure to help the discussion flow.  Help people to convert learning to practical actions.  Have a general idea of the kind of learning you expect people to experience.  Be able to draw the connections back to the stated purpose for the exercise or event.

What hat metaphor would you add to this?


A big thanks to Christie Latona and her creation of and inspiration behind the One Hat At a Time cards! .

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