Scenario: Us vs Them

As an action learning coach, how would you handle the following situation: As team members come in and sit down all the participants in leadership roles sit on one side of the table; everyone else on the other.

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

Comments (7)

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    Luz Longsworth

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    I would lean in and ask the following question of the team ” Team What do you notice about the seating in the room?”
    After the responses are given from both sides of the table I would then ask “How could this impact the productivity of our session?” and if necessary “What does the team wish to do about this prior to starting our work on the problem?”

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    Prudence James-Townsend

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    I would ask “Team I have observed that all the leaders/managers are sitting on this side and everyone else is on the other side, has anyone else observed that?”. This will allow persons to become fully aware. Then given it is a fact the response would more likely be “yes”. I would have the follow up questions: “What is the impact of this arrangement on the group?” and finally ” How do we want to handle seating arrangements within the group?” This then allows the group to ventilate the matter, if it is fine for them then we proceed. If there is an issue, it allows the group to establish the seating norms.

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    Aya Svensson

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    I would address this up front and pose a question to the team “What have you observed about the seating in today’s session?”, followed by “What is the impact of this to seating arrangement to the effectiveness for our group?”, if there statements provided by participants indicate that this would not be beneficial to the group, I would follow up with “How do we want to rearrange the seating?” and depending on the situation, may follow up with “How do we want to handle this situation if it arises in the future?”

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    Phuong Lien Bui

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    As an action learning coach, I will ask all members to stand up and talk with them that: “Hello Team, I have observed that you guys are divided into two sides, the right side is for managers and the left side is for others. So I wonder is this accidental or intentional? How do you think if we change the seat with each other?”. In case team members agree to change, I would say “It could be a good experience for everyone at this session. Thank you!”

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    Erica Venema

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    At the start of the meeting, I would address what I see. In my role as Action Learning coach, I would mirror the group: ‘I notice something remarkable about the seating in this meeting. Is there someone else that sees something remarkable?’ When yes: ‘What is it that you see?’ And when the group notices that the two groups are split: ‘What do you feel about this?’ ‘Does this happen more often?’ ‘In what situation?’ And ‘What can be the effect of this seating?’ When no, I mention what a see as remarkable and ask the same questions.

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    Sueli Balthazar

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    As they just arrived and I am responsible for the application of Action Learning, when introducing myself and talking about the objectives of the tool (solving emerging problems and at the same time developing leadership skills), I would say that in this meeting we will not have hierarchy. I would say that we are all going to work as a team to solve the problem and exercise the leadership skills without having an internal leader to lead. I will only make interventions when there is a learning opportunity. Therefore, I will ask the managers to sit more mixed in with the others and wait for the group to move.

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    Magdalena Lemanek

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    I would show the interest and ask the question to the team ” What do see when it comes to the way the seat were taken?” People would tell what they see and then I would ask: “How can it influence our work?” And then ” What would you like to do then?”

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