Scenario: Old School

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation:

A member makes a particularly prejudicial remark. For instance – women don’t belong in the work force.

 

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning

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Comments (7)

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    Colin Yeow

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    I would interject and depending on whether the remark was in response to a question or it was unsolicited, I would respond differently.

    If it was unsolicited, I would interject and remind everyone about asking questions instead.

    Either way, I would interject and ask a scale question “Team, how do we feel at this moment? 1 being lousy, 5 being average, 10 being great!”

    if they all respond similarly and above 5, I would ask “Team, what can we do for the remainder of the session to bring the score closer to 10?”

    If there are some scores below 5, I would ask “Team, what are some reasons for our scores being below 5 / average?”

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    John.Tattersall

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    It is the Action Learning coaches role to remain neutral so the question here for me is how this type of statement can be turned into an opportunity for learning for the group. One option would be to intervene immediately and ask the person that has made the statement whether they can put their opinion to the group in the form of a question. Depending on the response, I may then ask the group “How are we doing as a group?”
    It seems to me that it is the coaches’ role to get the group to decide how they wish to handle statements, (such as this example) that have the potential to be rather controversial/offensive.
    Paradoxically, it may be that the more diverse the group, the greater the probability that statements may be made that do not sit well with other group members. This in itself could lead potentially to new insights and consequently new learning for the group as a whole including the group members making controversial/offensive statements.

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    Timothy Low

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    I would intervene as a learning opportunity.
    Remind the team that statements only in response to questions and a commitment to learning and respect to each team member and gender.
    Ask the team ‘ How do you feel the team is doing at this juncture ? ‘
    ‘How to move the team to a higher level of effective solutioning?’

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    DrBea

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    I’d intervene immediately with the standard 3 questions. How are we doing as a team on a scale of 1 – 10. What are we doing well? What can we do better?

    The purpose od this is twofold – diffuse the tension of the moment and hopefully get the team to self identify.

    I never call attention to the numbers people have given as this can make them less honest in future interventions if they feel their number is being evaluated. Rather the questions, what are we doing well and what can we do better should bring the reasons for the numbers to light.

    If the situation was not mentioned I would think of what I want to be seeing. For me this one comes down to respect. Based on the actually situation I would tweek my question but suspect it would be –
    How respectful are we being of the diversity in our workforce that we are solving this problem for?
    Why is it important that we embrace the diverse nature of the workforce?
    How will we make sure that happens within this team?

    The idea being to focus on the behavior and not the person.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Wendy Teo

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    I would observe the team’s response and would intervene if I see that there is discomfort with the question. I would ask the team, “Team, what do you think of the type of questions being asked so far?”

    Depending on the team’s answer, I would intervene further by asking “Team how do you think this would impact team diversity and dynamics?”

    And if the issue is still not addressed by the team, I would be direct in naming the behaviour: “How would the ladies in the team feel about the question.” The idea is help everyone be aware and be sensitive to the questions being asked.

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    Dennis Sanko

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    We may only guess how ready the team and the “Old Scholl” member to open up and learn in any given moment. Aside from the solutions provided above I also thought of asking “What are any negative impacts of workforce diversity?” This is a bit tricky, but likely no one will come up with convincing answer. In turn, this will provide clear evidence that thee arent any…

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    Stuart Tan

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    First, I will have to get the team member to rephase it as a question. Second, I would calibrate to the team to see if there is any immediate discomfort and address it. “How well are we doing as a team so far”, “Based on the nature of questions we have asked, does diversity of questions improve the way our team functions”, “How might diversity be something that adds value to the organization”. I would use a concrete counter example to the comment by showing that diversity is valued in the team and lead it out to a generalized view of diversity to avoid directing any criticism at the participant specifically.

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