Scenario: Old School

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: A member makes a particularly prejudicial remark. For instance – women don’t belong in the work force.  

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

Comments (13)

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    Rosana Nucci

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    I would probably intervene by saying “I sense that some of the remarks being made may be looked on as prejudicial. Did anyone notice that? How does it impact on our work today? How does the group want to address that?”

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    Eungkoo Kang

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    I will intervene by saying “does anybody want to comment on that?” If somebody comes out to speak up inappropriateness of a word, i will ask “what would be an impact on our team, if this keeps happening during the session?” “what do we need to be careful of in our words?” If nobody comes out, I will ask the team “do you all think is a word that just came out to the table good to achieve our goal for this session? Is there any impact on the team for the path to the goal achieving?

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    Wytze Tesselaar

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    I will intervene: “The comment you make is a statement, can you please rephrase your statement into a question so the rest of the team can react on it.” Wait and let the team handle the situation, let the magic happen….

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    Song Chen

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    I ask the member:”which question did you respond to?”
    Then ask other members:”How do you feel about his comments?”
    Then ask the team:“How do we solve that?”

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    Amanda Bowman

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    Although I might think about starting the intervention with a question about what question the team member is answering, it could be better to find out if the remark is important or detrimental to the working of the group so that we’re moving from the personal (individual perspective) to the theory (behaviour) as quickly as possible. So I might start with the ‘How are we doing as a group? And if the comment about women in the workplace is mentioned, I’d follow up with What’s the impact of this kind of comment to the group? How can the group handle this kind of conflict? or How can the group show respect for our team mates and then How will we ensure that we respect the views of our team mates/What ways will we manage conflict in the future?

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    Sumaia Thomas

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    As an action learning coach, I would use the sequence of 3 questions to handle this difficult situation as follow: “I have observed that some of the remarks being made may be looked on prejudicial. Did anybody else noticed that? “(what) – “And what is the impact on the group when someone does that? “(so what) – “How does the group want to handle this kind of situation?” (how what) “Should the group have to build up on a norm to deal with this type of situation in the future?”

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    Andrew Christopher

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    I would say that I noticed some opinions being shared that could be perceived as controversial for some. I would ask if anyone else noticed that. If so, I’d ask them “what is the impact of sharing potentially controversial opinions in the course of our problem solving?” and then I would ask “how can we prevent any negative impacts that might result from sharing such opinions?”

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    Nanda Oomen

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    To start the dialogue again, I would say : I hear that you are making a statement. One of the basic rules in these sessions is that a statement is always followed by a question. What is the question that comes with your statement?

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    Christophe GARS

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    I would intervene by asking the member to rephrase his statement into a question and ask the other members ” Then insist again if necessary by asking the others members these following questions :
    what do you think of making prejudicial remark ? ” Do you think that making prejudicial remark is helpful to find the real problem ?
    Naturally it should make realized the member of his mistake without pointing him directly

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    Alexandra Shevchenko

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    Case description doesn’t provide a clear picture whether this prejudicial remark is an answer for the question or just a statement. In case it is a statement, coach may suggests to paraphrase it in to open question – it might reduce “toxicity” of a message so that participant could get an opportunity to disagree with a problem holder’s message.
    In case it is an answer for the question, so…prejudice in a team blocks first crucial requirement for the teamwork, which is safety. Normally that kind of situations require radical interventions. Coach may initiate reflection within a team, starting with:
    • What’s going on in a team? If the team’s response is rather negative, I would ask:
    • What are you going to do about it? In case the person asked this question is superior to other participants, I would ask:
    • In what way prejudicial remarks regarding sex, age, race, beliefs affect the teamwork?
    Or
    • In what way categorical judgements about team members affect team effectiveness?

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    Mark Kookushkin

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    • I would build a strategy for this case based on the first AL Ground rule
    • Additional context for opting a coach’s behavioral model arises from my perception of democratic values and self-awareness level of a group
    • First question I would ask to the person making judgmental statement: “What question are you answering right now?” If judgment is not an answer for the question asked, it is worth to remind the first AL Ground rule
    • If judgment is an answer for the question, I’ll ask: “How are we doing as a team?” and after participants’ responses there will be the next question: “What effect does it have on a team?” (or “In what way judgements about gender differences do affect the team?”) and “What team action could be most effective in the case given?”
    • I admit that in some Russian companies such judgmental statements will be perceived as “normal” so the team may decide not to change the session general flow. In this case I’ll accept it as a temporary “norm” for the current team, but continue to ask questions anyway delivering a message that the coach is a different “norms” holder
    • After any action (decision) of a team, I ask a question: “Who will ask the next question?”

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    Alexander Belov

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    As a coach, I would ask a question: “What question our team member was answering?” If they confirm that question was sort of: “What do you think about gender difference?”, I will clarify: “How gender difference discussion does help problem owner to find solution?” If they come to conclusion that it doesn’t help, I’ll ask: “What type of questions should we use to find a solution?” I’ll expect team’s decision to discuss the issue with following productive problem discussion.
    If my clarification discloses the fact that prejudice statements has nothing to do with questions asked, I’ll remind a rule: Statements can only be made in response to questions. Then I will invite the team to start asking questions.

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    Elena Goryacheva

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    If it happens for the first time, I will ask a question: “What’s going on in a team?” continuing with: “How does it affect the teamwork?” When team members identify that they make prejudice statements, I will ask the next question: “What are you going to do about it?”
    If participants continues to make prejudice statements again, I will make another intervention and ask: “What could we do to stick to our agreement we achieved in a previous discussion stage?”
    If this intervention doesn’t work, I will make a third level intervention: “I’ve noticed that there are statements being made instead of questions. How does it affect the teamwork? What are you going to do about it?”

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