Can a coach make too many interventions?

hi all I am wondering how you might determine if there is a point in a group, particularly a 1st time group, where the number, frequency or duration of interventions for learning opportunites become counter-productive to the groups performance? That is, the coach must decide to let some learning opportunities slide rather than pick them up straight away. I look forward to your insight or experiences. Ross

Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Comments (8)

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    Edwin sim

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    Personally I have experienced a session where the AL coach made too many interventions that disrupted the groups flow. The group I felt was having good exchange and the constant intervening from the coach was counter productive.

    Some tips I give myself:

    1) watch body language an facial expressions of members. I would rather let a learning opportunity slip then to over stretch the team and raise frustrations because frustrated people are not great learners

    2) time passes very quickly or the members but slowly for the AL coach – my personal observation. 15 minutes to the AL coach is like 5 minutes. Therefore any intervention that is done less than 15 minutes from the last one is way too many I feel. Unless there is a disruptive member or situation that requires an immediate intervention

    3) find suitable entry points; allow a conversation to come to suitable point of conclusion before intervening so as not to invalidate the conversation.

    4) finally, learn to let go. Especially when it’s a new group. Let them have fun. People will be more interested to return to have another go if it was fun and productive.

    Edwin@5hue.com

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    Gail Finger

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    I really like Edwin’s response. It reminded me of my days as a new parent many years ago and how difficult it was to listen to my baby cry. I had a wise, experienced parent as a next door neighbor who said: “It never hurt a baby to cry for 10 minutes. Put on a timer and wait it out for 10 minutes. 9 times out of 10, he will be asleep within that 10 minutes. That 10 minutes feels like an eternity to you, but not to the baby.” That advice changed my life!

    With regards to your question – if an opportunity for learning gets passed over because you just intervened 5 minutes ago, that opportunity will likely come up again, so you can trust that you’ll get another chance to ask a question that promotes learning.

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    Cleo Wolff

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    I am also very concerned with interventions. At the right beginning I was used not to intervene in order to respect the team and trying to be a very perfect AL coach. But what I have realized after several sessions is that there is a difference on the type of intervention:
    1. You can intervene making conclusions for the team, like a therapist ( I am psychologist and sometimes this tendency comes about). If you do that, I think it is counter-productive for the team because we take away from them the opportunity for learning by themselves.

    2. You can ask the right question at the right moment in order to take advantadge of the oportunity for learning immediately. That is the great quality of a AL coach in my experience. Usually, you will hear someone saying how important was the question at that right moment. Sometimes, not asking a question it means the team might have trouble to get the action plan at the end.

    Cleo Wolff

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    Philipp Werenfels

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    Making too many interventions may be disruptive to the team’s process and be considered micro managing. It might be useful to take some notes and bundle some learning opportunities for a later time. The goal for an Action Learning Coach is to enjoy the flow of the team’s dynamics and should interrupt when really necessary only. However, if the Action Learning Coach realizes that the rules were not clear it would be appropriate to stop the process and share the rules again.

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    Ruth Camp

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    I like the idea of bundling the learning opportunities and I also agree that they will come up again so the learning will not be missed. I think it’s a delicate dance between intervening and letting the group go. Each of us needs to figure out what our own tendencies are —intervene, not intervene and learn to manage them. I often don’t intervene when I should and am learning to be more proactive. Others may need to learn when to not intervene. It is our own learning within the context of the group’s learning

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    DrBea

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    I keep notes of the possible learning opportunities and choose the 1 that I think will make the most impact when I intervene. Keep in mind within Action Learning we make learning equal to solving the problem – not more important. As coach you need to take care of this balance – choose the opportunity that will make the most impact and let them get back to work.

    Time checks and what I call ‘police interventions’ – I’ll toss in quickly without doing a full intervention. For instances, the ground rules aren’t being followed – a simple – Let’s not forget the ground rules (without further discussion). Or for time checks – just a quick time check to let you know we have xx minutes left before …. (again without discussion).

    Happy coaching
    Bea

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    Ross Rowe

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    Thanks for all the insightful and helpful comments – such a learning adventure!
    Cheers
    ross

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    Chris Ridge

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    Observe the groups bodylanguage. Who is dominating, are others looking disengaged and irritated? or is threre high energy? Its about finding the balance and ensuring at the same time that the ground rules are respected. So for a first time group if I read that the group is going well thean I would use a light touch approach to reminding them of the ground rules. e.g I might with good humour remind them of the ground rules and at the same time state that “Hi all there is grat enrgy and enthuisam in the room, however I am observing too many statements that are not linked to questions.”

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