Sponsor answers questions … and doesn’t stop talking !

The team in a single problem action learning set asks questions to the sponsor (the boss), and in addition to just answering the question, the sponsor talks about the context, history, options, ideas for solutions … and this even when the question asked was a closed one … Even if the team members become aware of this, they struggle – in particular in a high power distance (respect for authority) – to do anything about it. How would you as a coach intervene ?

Tags: Action Learning Coach

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Peter Thailand

CALC since 2013 and started up WIAL Thailand !

Comments (6)

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    Cleo Wolff

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    If it is a closed question I would intervene immediatelly saying: It is a closed question. You can answer yes or no. As the teammembers have a respect for ayuthority the role of the ActionLearning Coach in here is fundamental. He/She is going to be more than ever the facilitator for learning.

    If the sponsor replies the question and keep talking, one possibility is the AL Coach to ask him/her: What is the question you are answering? Even if he/she says what is the question already answered, the question will make him/her to pay attention about what is speaking and usually they stop because they realize have already answered the question and are making statements.

    I think that is this situation the readiness of the coach and interventions for learning is essential. He/she has this authority and should not leave only for the teammembers to be responsibile for that. He is the one who takes the team one higher level.

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    Camkenzie

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    As a coach this presents an opportunity for learning and so I would advise the Sponsor that this is a yes/no response. I would then ask the group why is it important to use open and closed questions and finally I would ask how can we use open and closed questions to move forward. Now who has the next question?

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    Paula Salomao

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    I would make an intervention and would ask: “How are the answers aligned and straightforward to the questions that have been made?”, “Why is it important to answer the question and only the question in Action Learning meetings?”.
    I expect someone would bring the point of when we are answering more then what was asked, we are making assumptions, what is against ground rules of AL.
    I might also ask about the balance of question to all the participants, in case the group is asking questions only to the sponsor.
    In case, the sponsor keeps doing this, I would intervene in the middle of one of his answer and would ask: “What is the question that Mr/s. Sponsor is answering?”, “With the information he/she has given so far, is this question answered?”. I hope someone in the group would say yes and would ask: “What is the next question?”.

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    Fátima

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    I would start with the Standard Intervention: in a scale from 1 to 10, how the team is going? What are we doing well? What can we do better? From 1 to 10, what is the quality of the participation of the all team is asking questions? If the team realize that few of them are not asking, I would ask How can we do in order that everyone can participate?
    If they say the participation is good, all of them have the chance to participate, I would say: Who has the next question?

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    DrBea

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    In this situation I find intervening early and often is important. I use to ask – “What question are you answering?” The answer is typically – “That one”. So I would follow with – “what was that question?’ Assuming they responded with how it was phrased – I would ask – “And what is the answer to that question?” This occasionally, would then lead to – but they need this other information. I would then ask them – “How could you find out if they want it?”

    Depending on the situation this was received in the variety of ways – not all positive.

    What I have found more consistently effective is to ask the person posing the question – “Did you intend that to be a closed question?” If they say yes – I leave it. The impact of this is that the responder knows a closed answer is expected. If they say no – I ask them if they would like to rephrase it.

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

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      V.Vasudevan

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      As the AL Coach I would intervene and ask the Sponsor “What is the question that you are answering?”
      Based on his response, I would ask the team, “How are we doing as a team in keeping our responses concise and pertinent to the questions being asked? What could we do better?”

      If the participants continue to only ask questions of the sponsor who happens to be their boss, then I would intervene again and ask them “What does the team feel about the level of particiation from all the team members? What could we do better to get responses form the other team members?”

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