Scenario: Missing Participant

As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation:

The team you are coaching is working on a critical corporate problem in a leadership development program. The leadership program and work on the project is scheduled to be completed over six months.  Two of the eight people in the group do not show up routinely.

Tags: WIAL Action Learning

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Comments (14)

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    Ada

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    In our Organization, attendance is an expectation that would have been discussed as a part of the ground rule at the start of the program. As such, I would have a two pronged approach on this.

    One is during the coaching session, I would ask the group – what have you observed regarding the attendance of group members? What is the impact of that to your project? What changes will you make?

    If the behavior continues even after consensus from the group, I would take the offline approach of talking with the two members to understand if there are problems they are experiencing that is preventing them from showing up.

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    Sofia Georgiadou

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    I would intervene and say: I notice that two group members routinely do not show up. How is this impacting your work? What would you like to do about it?

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    SarahDavisDubai

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    I would refer back to the governance principles agreed at the beginning of the AL project. I would earlier have flagged and discussed the problem with the individuals when they missed one session and understand why. Then I would have escalated to both the sponsor of the project and the AL group. I would ask the group what they wanted to do about the issue and see if they wanted to take some time to discuss possible actions as a group. It would also be useful to get feedback from any other AL groups in the same project and if they were having the same issue. Personally if at all possible I would want to remove the individuals from the group but I don’t see it as the coach’s decision. Also it could potentially takes group to less than 4 in number and it will impact as well as what the group could achieve towards solving this critical problem. I see this really as something group and sponsor to agree a way forward and ensure the individuals attend. But realising if they are forced to attend it will impact on their motivation during the AL sessions and possibly outputs.

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    BecciWalker

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    I would check with the sponsor (or check the governance principles as Sarah mentioned) whether they wanted to deal with it directly, or whether they wanted the group to try to deal with it. If ‘working as a team’ is part of the program there are some fantastic learning opportunities in this for the group. If the sponsor wanted a group resolution, I would address this with the group. I would initially focus on the positives around the group dynamics and behaviours, and then explore the gaps between where they are now, and how they could be even better. I HOPE that this line of questioning would generate discussion around the attendance, and agreement on how to resolve it. If the issue didn’t get raised I would then follow the suggestions above around asking more specifically around attendance, impact and what they would like to do about it.

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    Han Ee

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    This scenario is certainly a learning opportunity.
    I would intervene by asking the team what they noticed about the level of attendance.
    A followup question would be to inquire about the impact of the absentees on the performance of the group.
    And subsequently inquire about what the team would like to do to manage this particular situation.
    To add on double loop learning, the ALC can also inquire about how this applies in the actual corporate space, in terms of commitment vis-a-vis actual behaviours that don’t appear to be consistent.
    We can also explore the selection process and even the level of engagement within a project setting for example etc…

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    Stephanie

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    When the group reconvenes,I would check in with them by asking a few general questions:”Now that we’ve been together for X time, how do feel the team is working together?”. If the missing participants are brought up, I would then ask the what the impact is and how they would like to address it. If the missing participants are not brought up in conversation – I would directly ask about it: “I notice that we are missing 2 participants…what is the impact of having 2 members absent?”…..and then I would follow that question with and “how would you like address it?”

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    ShobaCh

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    Many good responses have already been posted. I too would echo the earlier coaches. We need to check with the team (rather than making our own assumptions and conclusions) regarding the absenteeism.
    One strategy (already covered) would be to address the issue as part of the AL set. Start by stating observation that members are missing, and follow up by asking the team about the impact of missing team members on the project.

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    George Parrott

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    1. I would ask the group “How is it impacting the Action Learning outcomes of this group, with X and Y not regularly attending?”
    2. If the majority response is that this is not a problem, then all fine and we will carry on with the sessions regardless.
    3. However, if the majority response is that it is a problem (for example missing valuable input etc) then I would ask “How would you like to address this issue?” and then leave it up to the group to come up with action/s that address this issue.

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    Chris Gripton

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    Like Stephanie has suggested at the next meeting when the opportunity for intervention is there, address the group by saying that I have noticed two of the team members have not been attending regualrly, has anyone esle noticed that?, what is the impact on the group in getting this project completed on time? and what would the group like to do going forward to make sure that each person is committed to the AL session(s). It then is the groups decision and given there is eight in the team they may decide to stay with six in the group or direct this back to the sponsor?

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    Arend

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    On forehand I would call or visit (preferable) the two persons separately and ask them “Why do you not show up?” Secondly I should ask: ” The client described the problem the group has to solve as a very critical strategic important issue, what do you think of that?”
    Lat question should be: ” Can someone help you, and in what way, to make it possible for you to be involved and part of this important group process?”

    If it’s still a no, and his or her presence is important I will ask the group on what way they could be of influence to solve this problem. Perhaps there is another solution.

    If it’s still important to have them in, and the croup can’t solve this and they are still not involved I will ask my client or he/she has a solution.

    Als in this process I expect to find a solution in the first 1 to 1 conversation. Secondly this will be solved with the other team members and if not finally with the boss. In the conversation with the boss I will only ask positive questions to help him in his mindset to find a working solution for the 2 team members.

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    Scott

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    II would use this as a learning opportunity for the group and also those not attending. I also believe it would be better for the group to nip this situation in the bud sooner rather then later. After a second non-attendance by certain group members I would ask the group – How does the group feel about some members regular non-attendance? I would then follow with – How would the group like to manage regaular non-attendance ? With the groups approval I would then discuss related outcomes and communicate the groups preferred way forward to the sponsor and also communicate this to members who have been absent for their benefit.

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    DrBea

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    Each meeting where participants were missing – I would start by observing the obvious – I noticed we are missing participants. Did anyone else notice that? What is the impact on the team when members do not show up for the meeting? How do we want to handle it?

    It’s important that the team decide how to handle it, and that I not take matters into my own hands on behalf of them.

    If the behavior continued – I would than repeat the obvious observation followed by and the plan for handling it was …. (whatever they had previously agreed to).
    Followed by – What was the impact of taking that action? What might be a better course of action?

    With each session that their were missing participants, I would press the team to determine a better course of action until the situation was resolved. The resolution might be removing them from the team altogether, or dealing with their absenteeism or something in-between. Ultimately, the final choice of how it is to be dealt with is the responsibility of the team.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    lanzeng

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    As AL coach, I would like to let the group to find it and make their own decisions. Two ways I can intervene considering different culture.
    – Indirect, I may ask them questions like, “How do you feel about our team working, please score its performance from 1-10?” “Please express the reason why you score like this?” When there is someone in the group talk about the two absent team members, follow up question is “What the impact of this absent?” “How do we do next?”
    – Directly ask the team, “I find that there are two members are absent here, how you think about it?” And then follow up questions like, “What are we group going to do next?” “How about the result we group can imagine?”
    – Reflection, bring it into group and individual reflection, create a learning point for team.

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  • Avatar

    WANGPEIJIE

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    As a coach,I would intervene to say: I notice that two group members routinely do not show up. What would you like to do about it?

    Reply

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