Scenario: Closed Question

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

During the last check-in the team agreed that, they need to use more open question, yet they continue to ask mostly close questioned. Even with the closed questions, the responses are open. You’ve tried asking “what question are you answering?” they say that one, you add “what was that question?”, recognizing it was a closed question they give a closed answer and go right back to the behavior of closed question followed by an open answer.

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Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Comments (7)

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    Alissa Haslam

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    Most of the teams I have worked with are predicated on the notion that we start with open-ended questions. When question askers have started in a closed ended way, I have intervened and asked “how could you ask that in an open-ended way?” I have found that one you intervene once or twice in this way, that the team starts to self-regulate and take time to think through the questions they ask.

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    gracetan

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    Agree with Alissa, with similar experience in AL session.
    When questions are asked in a closed-ended manner, and participants are asked to consider how to ask in an open-ended way, it is effective to help the team become more aware of this. They will eventualy self-regulate to ask more open-ended questions.

    An additional point to add would be that sometimes participants are not used to asking open-ended questions. They may still struggle when asked to consider how to frame in an open-ended way.
    One possibility could be to ask the team to help offer suggestions on how it could be rephrased in open-ended manner.
    This would ease the pressure of the participant, and allow the team to also think through and learn from one another.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    gracetan

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    Agree with Alissa, with similar experience in AL session.
    When questions are asked in a closed-ended manner, and participants are asked to consider how to ask in an open-ended way, it is effective to help the team become more aware of this. They will eventualy self-regulate to ask more open-ended questions.

    An additional point to add would be that sometimes participants are not used to asking open-ended questions. They may still struggle when asked to consider how to frame in an open-ended way.
    One possibility could be to ask the team to help offer suggestions on how it could be rephrased in open-ended manner.
    This would ease the pressure of the participant, and allow the team to also think through and learn from one another.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Adetola Akintomide

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    This behaviour could be due to lack of understanding of the problem. If the team does not understand the problem at hand, it is very likely that it will not stimulate probing questions from them thereby asking closed questions.
    To get the team to align appropriately by asking open ended questions that should stimulate further questions, I could try one of two things.
    First is to suggest that there might be need for the problem presenter to present the problem again so they can fully understand. To do this, I will ask the question “would it help if the problem is presented again?” If this is the problem, then I expect the answer will be yes.
    Secondly, is to suggest if the team would want a moment silence to think through the problem again. The short break/silence should provide an opportunity for the team to think through the problem and stimulate their minds to come up with more probing questions.

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    Colleen Carruthers

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    What about asking “What’s getting in the way of people asking open-ended questions?”

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    Philip Hsi

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    Ask: “What could we do to ensure we ask more open questions?”

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    DrBea

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    Great responses. In sticking with the rule that the coach can only ask questions —-

    After asking the 3 standard questions –
    How are we doing asking for the information we want? Why is it important to use the correct sort of question (open or closed) to get the information we are seeking? How can we help each other ask for the information we need and only give the information that was asked for?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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