Scenario: Unavailable Member

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

>Just prior to the beginning of the meeting, the group is informed that a member has been asked by her boss to handle an emergency, and will not be able to join the group for the first 2 hours of the session.

Tags: Action Learning Coach, WIAL Action Learning

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Comments (13)

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    Michael Bkloemendal

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    Assuming that the person concerned is present at the beginning and it is a one-time session, I would ask the group inluding the person concerned, to spend 10 minutes to answer the question whether they think that a solution without that person is viable in terms of expected quality and support in the organisation.
    If the person concerned is not present, I still would ask the group the same question but would ask them to try to take into consideration the effect the proceeding of the session might have for the person absent.

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    Craig Senecal

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    This is a question that the group is in a position to decide. It’s likely that I would like to bring up this information prior to the problem presentation, because if the group does not want the member to join midway (or two hours into the session), we would want the member to know right away.

    Some questions to ask: “What information did we learn about (member) prior to the start of the session? How does this affect the group? What does the group want to do about it?

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    miesdekoning

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    As a coach I would have the group discuss this situation by asking them:
    -What are the implications of the absence of this group member?
    Or:
    -What is the impact of this on the problem solving and leadership development of individual members and the group as a whole?
    Or:
    -What norms does the group want to establish around the presence of all members?

    If the group decides to start the process in the absence of this member, I would ask:
    -Does the group want to establish any norms around members coming in late (or later)?

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    JKenger

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    I would throw this back to the team and ask what the impact will be with the team member’s absence for 2 hours. I’d then ask how they’d like to move forward in her absence. If they are OK moving forward without her, I also will ask how they plan to update her when she returns. If they want to wait to begin until she returns, then as their coach, I would have to wait along with them.

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    Jean Radeztsky

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    Emergency’s happen. As a Coach, I would inform the group and ask them how they would like to handle it, including how will the group catch the individual up on what’s been done to the point when she returns. I would not delay the Action Learning.

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    Patricia De Leon - Henry

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    Before an action learning session takes place it is important to confirm that all the members of the team are available to meet. In this particular scenario, an emergency has occurred.

    As an action learning coach I am aware of how critical the participation of all the members of the team would be in reaching breakthrough soloutions to the problem presented. This team member would be absent for a significant portion of the work. I would ask the member:

    “The participation of each member is critical towards the work of the team. Is there anyone else in your Department who would be able to handle the emergency so that you could stay and work with the team?”

    If he / she says no then I would ask of the team: “What would be the impact on the work of any team if one of its members are absent for a significant part of the work?

    How would the team like to deal with this situation? Would the team like to establish any norms?

    If the team agrees to proceed with the session and include the team member when he / she returns then my follow up steps as the coach would be

    “Welcome back (Name)” Were you able to handle the emergency?
    “Would each person write down one or two lines on where we are at in the session?”
    “Would each person read what they wrote? Who would like to begin?”

    The above would be done so that the team member could catch up on what they missed.

    I would then ask the team member if they have any questions for the team on the what they heard.
    Thereafter:
    “Who has the next question?

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    John Tattersall

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    I agree, it is a question that the group members should decide in terms of what they want to do given that one member is likely to be a couple of hours late. Perhaps they may suggest the possibility of delaying the session.
    In a well-established group, the group solidarity and overall impact/effectiveness may well be compromised if one member is not available, even if for only part of the session.
    In some organisations the culture or even the perception of someone’s boss of what constitutes an ‘emergency’ may override the importance/value placed on the contribution towards performance contributed by Action Learning groups. This may also be a question put to the group in terms of how they want to deal with the possibility that everyone in the group may not be available for scheduled sessions or called away at short notice.
    This is why fewer meetings when everyone can be available may be more successful if a creeping tendency starts to develop where other business activities are deemed to be more business critical than the Action Learning sessions.
    If there is an Action Learning ‘Champion’ within the business then it perhaps should be part of their role to keep the value added and successes through the Action Learning groups firmly in the purview of the senior management teams.

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    PeterKao

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    I will state the situation to the team and ask team “What will be the impact?” and “What action will team take to reduce the impact?” and “For the first 2 hours how team will adjust the way of working?”

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    Tomasz Janiak

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    – I’ve noticed a person missing. Anyone noticed this too?
    – What impact do such situations have on teams in general?
    – How do we want to handle this particular situation today?
    – Hence, what norm do we want around such situations?
    – How are we going to proceed when the person returns?

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    andrewleetk

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    As a Action Learning Coach, my job is not to make decision for the team. This is a situation where the team has to handle.

    I would ask the entire team “Team, are you aware that one of our team member is not going to be available for at least 2 hours of today’s session?” and “what do you think will be the impact of this to the team?”

    I would ask again “As a team, what do we want to do to handle the situation?”. It is important for the team to reach an agreement and make a decision here.

    They may decide to postpone the session or go ahead without this member.

    If they decide to postpone to a later time or date, I would ensure everyone on the team agreed to the change of time/date.

    If they decide to go ahead, then I would inform the team that it is crucial for everyone to have a same level understanding on the development /progress of the discussion. I would ask, “What is the team going to do to ensure this team member is going to be kept updated and be on the same page as the rest of us when he/she returns?” Once the team had decided and agreed on the method, I would commence the session.

    I will closely observed the team’s conversation and its development, and also make sure they do what they had agreed for the returning member.

    The next thing I would do is ask the member, who had returned, to reiterate what he/she heard and understood, and ask if the team is satisfied with the level of understanding. I will make sure everyone is satisfied with the understanding before we continue with the coaching session.

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    DrBea

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    Interesting how many responses include catch the person up when they return. It is for the team to determine what to do when the person returns not our responsibility as a coach.

    Therefore my questions would be

    We will be missing a member for the first two hours, what will the impact of this be on our teams performance?

    How do we want to handle it?
    Do we need a norm for these situations?
    If yes – what norm?

    How do we want to handle when they return?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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    Cheryl Chua

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    As a learning coach, I would leave the decision to the group with the following questions:
    1) Team, we have a team member not able to join us for the discussion for 2 hours, how will the team want to manage this emergency?
    2) If the team decide to proceed without her, I will ask the next question “how can we help this team member to stay in the same page with the team when she is back after the 2 hours” (this is to make sure the team take up the ownership of the team member)
    3) Team, what have we learn about decision making (taking the chance for learning)?

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    ina.b.teves

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    I would refer the problem to the group, state the problem, then depending on their answer:

    What is the impact on the team’s session if we started without the person concerned? How will we lessen the impact? OR What is the impact on the team’s session if we waited for the person concerned?

    It is the role of the coach to guide the team on decision-making and not make decisions for them. By letting the team decide, the coach helps the team learn to make decisions on their own and consider the impact and action steps that must be taken for the consequences of these decisions.

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