Scenario: Phone Rings

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

During the session a team member’s phone rings and they leave the table to answer it.

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning, WIAL Talk

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Comments (14)

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    Kathleen

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    I would ask the group how they would like to handle this or similar situations when the team member taking the call returns to the group.

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    shiyun

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    Check with the rest of the team “what do we want to do with the situation?” Proceed according to the team decision. During the review and learning part, if no one mention this incident, I will mention it and ask the team “what’s the impact to the team if phone rings in the middle of the meeting and one has to answer to it?” Following the answers, I will further ask the team “how can we improve the team norms around picking up phone calls?”

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    elbertor

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    Perhaps the call is of a sensitive nature or an emergency, so initially, I would focus my attention on the other team members. I would also try to observe if anyone was noticeably disrupted by the incident: “Team, X just left to answer a phone call. How would you like to proceed?” They could either opt to proceed with the discussion, or wait for X to return.

    Once X returns, I would ask “Is everything okay?” If X expresses this is a one-time occurrence, or that it is urgent and unavoidable and won’t happen again, I can ask the team, “How can we support X so that he is caught up on what he missed out on?”

    If, however, his response suggests nonchalance, or that it is a call that could have waited til after the session, I would take the opportunity to ask the team what the impact would be if people kept leaving in the middle of the session to take calls. If X expresses something along the lines of “My boss or superior needs to be able to reach me at all times,” I would ask him first “What kind of support do you need?”

    I would also turn to the team again and ask for suggestions: “Knowing it might happen again (or that it’s likely to happen again), how can we support X so that he can take his calls without disrupting the flow of conversation?” And later “How can we support X so that he is brought up to speed quickly and not get lost when he returns?”

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    BobvdWoerdt

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    When the phone call is ended. I will asked and tell him/her; “Did you understand the rules? And did I told you/everyone that you can not ansering a phone call? Nobody told me that they can expect an urgent phone call that must be answered.
    And I may ask the group, what is the effect on the group.

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    • Avatar

      Hans van Buijten

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      I would apologize for not addressing the chance that someone is called during the session. I would stop the session and wait for X to return. After X returns I would ask the team how to achieve commitment about telephone calls during Action Learning sessions. What is their common behaviour during ‘normal business meetings’? What works well for them and what doesn’t?

      I would try not to spend much time on this subject and move on with the Action Learning session, after checking that everyone is 100% present again.

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    Joi

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    Ask the team if they would like to wait for the team member to come back or resume with the session. Proceed with the team’s decision.

    When the team member comes back, ask the team how they would like to handle when a similar situation occurs.

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    DrBea

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    Remember it is not our job as coach to be directive with the team, just name the behavior, have them identify the impact, and determine what to do about it.

    For this situation I would say –
    I’ve observed someone just left the room. What’s the impact on the problem solving when someone leaves the group?
    How do we want to handle it, today?
    What should our norm around leaving the group (or electronics – depending on the exact situation) be?
    How will we handle when (person) returns?

    Note: I didn’t ask – how we will catch them up? – that might not be the best use of the teams time. It is for the team decide what they want to do when the person returns.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Linette

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    I agree that as a coach we should not be directive with the group.

    I would ask the group, how can we proceed if someone has just left the session to take a call?

    And how we can handle this kind of situation in future if it happens again? What would be the impact on the group if one person is missing from the session?

    It could be possible that the group may say that they are not bothered by someone leaving the group to take a call, given the work culture or norm of that country. So I may then ask how we can help the person be up to speed if he joins the group much later and missed much of the session.

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    AgataRD

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    I would ask the group if it would be helpful for them to establish some ground rules around using the electronics during their session.

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    Tiffany Maurycy

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    I can hear Bea’s voice asking those questions of the team. The tone is curious and the mindset is open to whatever the team decides. I love how it’s all about raising it up to awareness.

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    Sridar

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    I would ask the team if they would like to proceed the session without a team members presence. Once the member returns, I would then ask the team what will be the impact to the team be if members go in and out during a AL session. I would also ask how could the team ensure that such behaviour is not repeated in future.

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    Edo Lavika

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    I will intervened and used it as learning opportunity. I would tell the team: “I observed one of the member just left. What the team think about this?” After they answer I would ask again “How do the team solve this problem?”

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    Lei

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    I will intervene and ask the Team “Team, Person A , has left to answer a call. What would the team like to do?” If the team then responds that they will continue, I will ask the team ” ” How can we support Person A to catch-up when he/she is back?”
    And then during the learning/reflection I will bring back the learning /intervention especially when theteam had agreement about phone calls – ” Earlier on we had agreements about phone calls. What are we learning about keeping commitments?”” What is the impact to the team if commitments are not kept?”

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    Seokjin LEE

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    I first would give the team to notice what just happened which i mean to have the team notice what could have impact on the team by themselves. if there’s no one in the team who notice the situation, I would ask the team “Team, what just happened? Do you notice anything happening in this team in the discussion?” And I would ask “what could this situation be continued?” “what could this situation have impact on the team activity?” Lastly, I would ask the team “what could do we do better for the team to be better?”

    As you notice, this process exactly follow the SID intervention model. I proved that this model is 100% effective in this situation.

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