As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation:
The team consists of a vice president and four of his reports. One of the reports asks a question and the vice president asks – “Why did you ask that?”, The Vice president than asks a question that a team member than asks – “Why did YOU ask that?” – their tone makes it clear that they are retaliating for the boss having questioned someone’s question.
Chui Shan So
This is a great learning opportunity that I will intervene at this moment, by asking “I observed both Mr.VP and One of the reports (Mr.A) were asked “Why did you ask that?” after someone asked a question.
I here invite all of you think about What May Be the good intentions of Mr.VP as well as Mr. A. I will try to create a safe environment and invite everyone to talk.
Then, I will ask Mr. VP and Mr. A: What are the real intentions behind your question of “Why did you ask that?”
Then, I will ask if there is another way to express your good intention, what is it?
Moreover, how would you like your team to support you to implement it?
(sure, it is more important to follow the flow of the intervention. My coaching questions need to be adjusted based on their feedback. Reflection on their thinking behind is the point.)
As Action Learning Coach, I would take advantage of the moment to intervene and contribute to the group’s learning, without losing productivity, asking: “How are our questions contributing to the stage we are in?”; “Why is it important that we ask questions that contribute to the phase we are in?”; “What impact does this have for us to work better as a group?”
With these questions, I would focus on the worked issue, also generating a space for the group to reflect on the judgments of intentions of the questions asked.
Kwong Sang Ernest Ng
I would intervene at the moment and simply ask “what is the purpose of asking questions in this session?” “What kind of the questions would contribute to solve the problem?”
After they answered, I may ask “What can we learn at the moment?”
I will ask the team：
– I just observed a student respond to another student’s “why did you ask that?” with “why did you ask that?” Did you also notice this?
– How do you explain this behavior?
– What is the impact of this behavior on team performance?
– And what would be appropriate for us to do next to express a similar view?
– When setting up a team, it is best not to set up personnel with reporting relationships.
– If there is a vice president, it is recommended that he does not speak or speaks last, and can communicate with him individually to get his commitment and support.
– This may be an implicitly sensitive topic that is not easy to discuss in this case.
I will ask the team: “What makes a question more powerful to help solve a problem – the ‘why’ or the ‘what’ ?”