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Independent Facilitation in Risk & Control Management

Independent facilitation plays a crucial role in ensuring that groups function well together during risk and control management processes. The word “facilitate” has its roots in the Latin word “facilis,” meaning “easy.” Thus, a skilled facilitator will enable the risk and control activities, making it easier for the group to achieve their intended outcomes.

The Role of an Independent Risk & Control Facilitator

The role of an independent risk and control facilitator is critical in ensuring effective risk management within organizations. The key aspects of the role are:

  1. Objective Perspective:
    • An independent risk facilitator brings objectivity to risk assessments.
    • They avoid biases and ensure fair evaluations of risks and controls.
  2. Expertise and Skills:
    • A skilled facilitator possesses specialized knowledge in risk management.
    • They guide risk workshops, ensuring productive discussions and outcomes.
  3. Workshop Preparation:
    • The facilitator understands project characteristics, scope, and objectives.
    • They prepare for risk assessments by considering underlying assumptions and constraints.
  4. Effective Communication:
    • Facilitators ensure clear understanding of risk processes and roles.
    • They encourage questions and active participation.

Facilitator Styles

Choosing the right facilitation style can effectively guide workshops toward achieving established objectives. There are three main facilitation styles in the context of risk and control workshops:

  1. Directive Style: In this style, the facilitator takes charge, providing clear instructions and guidance. It is useful when quick decisions are needed or when dealing with a group that lacks direction.
  2. Collaborative Style: Collaborative facilitators encourage active participation from all attendees. They foster open discussions, allowing diverse viewpoints to emerge. This style is valuable for exploring risks thoroughly and generating creative solutions.
  3. Supportive Style: Supportive facilitators focus on building rapport and trust within the group. They create a positive environment, making it easier for participants to share their insights. This style is beneficial when addressing sensitive or complex risk issues.

Pros & Cons of Risk & Control Facilitation

The benefits derived from an independent risk and control facilitation outweigh the downsides. Some of the main benefits are:

  1. Positive Work Environment: It creates a positive work environment by encouraging open communication and collaboration. When employees feel involved and heard, it reduces turnover and improves morale.
  2. Managing Change: Facilitators guide teams through changes with lower stress levels. By fostering a welcoming atmosphere, they help individuals feel valued, increasing their willingness to adapt during transitions.
  3. Feedback Invitation: Risk and control facilitators invite teams to discuss underlying issues, such as unconscious biases or hidden beliefs. Addressing these unacknowledged factors maximizes productivity and fosters growth.
  4. Ownership: Teams take ownership of risks or controls. Facilitative leadership provides direction without micromanaging, allowing individuals to make decisions and feel responsible.
  5. Decisions: The decisions are reached using group consensus. Since key process owners are a part of the decision-making process, they become champions of the changes. This results in more efficient implementation of changes and less conflict as changes are rolled out to the organization.

Some of the downsides of group facilitation include:

  1. Time-Consuming: Facilitation involves open discussions and consensus-building, which can be time-intensive. It may delay decision-making.
  2. Conflict Handling: Encouraging diverse viewpoints can lead to conflicts. Managing disagreements effectively requires skills and patience.
  3. Overlooking Details: In pursuit of creativity, facilitators may overlook critical details or practical constraints.
  4. Resistance to Change: Some team members may resist risk-based approaches, preferring familiar routines.

A well-executed facilitation can make a difference between success and failure in risk management outcomes and contribute value to organizations.

McKonly & Asbury has professionals with experience in risk and control facilitation for organizations, and is adept at facilitating risk and control sessions to streamline controls and increase control owners’ awareness and buy-in. For more insight on Internal Audit related topics, be sure to visit our Internal Audit Services page. Don’t hesitate to contact Elaine Nissley or Victor Kong for more information on Internal Audit or if you have further questions.

About the Author

Victor Kong

Victor joined McKonly & Asbury in 2023 and is currently a Senior Manager with the firm. He is a member of the firm’s Audit & Assurance Segment. Victor is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and hol… Read more

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