Scenario: Over the top

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

The problem presenter is the owner of the business you are coaching a team for. Every question he is asked he gives much more information than was asked for. You’ve asked him what question he is answering several times and he says ‘that one’ and continues to add additional information.

Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Comments (8)

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    Maro Chan

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    As the Action Learning Coach, I would pass the issue to the group to handle. I would alert them by saying something like “Hey Class ! Do you notice that the Problem Presenter gives much more information than was asked for?” “What would be the impact on the flow and the result if this pattern goes on?” ” How could the PP answers the questions in order to make the coaching more effective?”

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      Colleen Carruthers

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      Wonder if asking such a direct question would really embarrass the problem owner. Would suggest that we might ask “What is the impact of so much information at once”?

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    Adetola Akintomide

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    A problem presenter is expected to state the problem and allow questions from the participants as their questions is supposed to seek further clarification to the problem. Further statements from the problem presenter should be responses to questions from participants in trying to properly understand/dimension the problem.
    To handle this particular situation, I will interject in the course of the problem presenter’s talk to remind him that he/she is expected to respond to questions from participants and allow others to contribute.
    I will go further to remind him/her that other participants can only really understand and dimension the issue/problem when they are given the opportunity to ask probing questions to aid their understanding of the problem. Furthermore, to emphasise the need for the problem presenter to respond to specific questions, I could nicely state that if he/she has all the answers there might really have been no need for the session as the other participants were there to assist in resolving a problem and not listen to a lecture.
    At the end of the session, I will also engage the problem presenter to advise him on the need to allow others state their views since the reason for the session is to get the other participants help in resolving the problem.
    It is a very common thing that when a person is very conversant with an issue/problem it is normal to have a lot to say about such problem and there will also be the urge to want to say a lot. This sometimes even happens to a coach who has a lot of knowledge of a particular subject. The coach sometimes have to struggle with the urge not to join in discussion.

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    Jennifer Stanigar

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    Although this is a delicate scenario for the coach, there is a great opportunity for learning here. At an appropriate moment, the coach might intervene and say “I’ve observed that some responses are providing information beyond what has been asked, has anyone else noticed this?” And then, “What is the impact of not answering the question that was asked on the progress of the team?” Then, give team members the opportunity to comment to see if others notice the same behavior. Then the coach could add, “What could the team do better as we move forward?”.

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    Philip Hsi

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    While the problem presenter (Mr.X) gives much more information than was asked for, I will intervene before the P.P. talks too long by saying : “Before Mr.X goes on, I like to check the questioner whether the question has already been answered.” If the questioner confirms he/she has got the answer, I will say: “Since the question has been answered, who has the next question?” If the questioner has not yet got the answer, I will then invite the questioner to repeat his/her question and turn to the problem presenter:”What’s your direct and straight answer to this specific question?” If Mr.X continues his behavior pattern in the following QAs, I will check the team by asking: “Was our question statements short and clear?” And then: “Were the answers to questions straight and simple?” Then, ask: “What can we do to ensure our questions and answers are straight and simple?”

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    DrBea

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    Initially, I would try the ‘police’ sort of intervention – At this point, what question are you answering.

    Based on this scenario that didn’t work – so during a full intervention I would start with the standard 3 questions – How are we doing? What are we doing well? What can we do better? Assuming no one brought this situation forward I would go with How are we doing JUST answering the questions? Why is it important that we focus our answers? How will we help each other stay foces with responses?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Megha Awasthy

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    Even though its a delicate matter, we would need to address it a little firmly or risk a failed/not-at-par outcome.

    If the ‘policing’ (‘what question are you responding to’) doesn’t work, then ask the group

    “what is the impact on the group when long statements are made?” -> replies are heard, then –
    “what effect does too much information have on the quality of discussion?” replies –
    “so what is the group going to do about it?” – replies are heard and then
    “thank you. so who has the next question”.

    At this point, rather than choosing a ‘hard hitting’ level of intervention by saying something like “I have observed that…”, in my opinion, the above approach would not-so-subtly get the point across, while also prompting people to voice their opinion about the unwanted information-overload.

    In case the problem presenter persists, as a coach I would finally enforce a “Time Out” rule and would intervene right in between by saying, “Thank you for that. Please summarize it quickly in a sentence or two.” and if he goes off again, go for an immediate intervention by saying “I’m sorry! One sentence please!”

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    najiresearch

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    I would call a time out, point out how much time has elapsed and how much time is left and ask the team the one or more of the following questions:

    How do you feel about progress thus far?
    What would be helpful to the team making progress?
    What’s going well and what’s not going well? or What needs to change?
    How do you feel about your level of participation in the process?
    What specific information do you still need of the problem provider?
    What would you change about the team interactions?
    What changes in the process would allow better progress in the discussion

    I could also ask would it be useful to have the the problem provider to hold on answers for a minute and allow the team to table some of their unanswered questions, and then have the

    What questions do you still have that need to be answered?

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