Scenario: Conflicting Priorities

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: Part way through the session, one of the members mentioned a meeting they have that will require them to leave early. Several other participants mention they need to go to the same meeting, leaving only 2 participants for the session.

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

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    Jessica Low


    As an action learning coach, I would intervene it based on below:

    I noticed some of the participants need to leave early to attend a meeting and as earlier mentioned, “the action learning session will last xxx minutes, what is happening?” The participants may response saying they have forgotten to mention it earlier when we start.

    The follow up question would be “What is the impact for participants to leave part way through the session?” Allowing participants to reflect and let them think on how it would impact the Action Learning session, having only left with 2 participants while they were aware the session will clash with the intended meeting.

    Another follow question could also be “What will happen to the team if we continue with only 2 members left in the session?” The would help to refresh their memories Action Learning session requires between 4 – 8 members to be impactful, a working team would involve everyone to participate and not leaving part way through a session, what the intent would not be able to achieve when there is insufficient people in the session, and communication is the key so that if the session needs to be shorten, everyone is agreeable and aware of it from the beginning.

    Last question to ask would be “How do we prevent this from happening again?” This is where as a coach, I allow the team to decide on how they would communicate among the team if the same situation happens again, understand the respect of each other’s time and effort for making the time, be committed here and there.

    Before we end, as a coach I’ll ask the team “What would they like to do as some members would need to leave for the meeting?” As some of them would have to leave for the meeting, this would be used for the team to decide on follow up actions that may have been spoken about during the session, or decide on the next session (time & date) – immediately after the meeting or 1 or 2 days later and then re-convene.


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