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

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Comments (12)

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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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    Kevin Mukherjee

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    I would acknowledge the seating arrangement, and as one of my first remarks as coach would be asking the group what do they notice about the seat selections. Also ask them what they believe this says about the group that is currently assembled to work on the problem. Lastly, ask the group how they believe it will impact the session? Ask the group as a response to any negative feelings or perceptions, what can be done to overcome the situation to enable greater idea sharing.

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    Keith Almalvez

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    I would call out the team’s attention by asking “Team, it seems that we’ve arranged our seats with those with leadership roles on this side, while the rest on the other side, is that correct?”. After hearing their response, I’ll ask “what does this seating arrangement tells us as a team?”. Once they’re done sharing their answers, I’ll mention that in an Action Learning session, all participants are on equal footing and titles/ roles / positions will be kept on the sidelines until the event is done. I’ll wrap up by asking “how would we want to re-arrange ourselves to maximize our learning during the session?”.

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    Keith Almalvez

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    I would call out the team’s attention by asking “Team, it seems that we’ve arranged our seats with those with leadership roles on this side, while the rest on the other side, is that correct?”. After hearing their response, I’ll ask “what does this seating arrangement tells us as a team?”. Once they’re done sharing their answers, I’ll mention that in an Action Learning session, all participants are on equal footing and titles/ roles / positions will be kept on the sidelines until the event is done. I’ll wrap up by asking “how might we re-arrange ourselves to maximize learning during the session?”.

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    KAI ZHANG

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    1、I will fill in the numbers on some small pieces of paper and ask each member of the group to take one, form a group of two adjacent to each other, do some simple physical activities to assist each other, then introduce themselves to each other, and finally ask them to take their seats in the order of their numbers.
    2. Then ask everyone, is the environment and atmosphere different from the beginning now?

    Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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    Shikha Dalal-Angeline

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    After sharing my role as Action Learning coach, I would ask the group the first question: “What do you notice about the way the group is seated around the table?”. I would then ask follow up questions, “How do you think this might affect our working dynamics as a group?”; “What group norms do we want to set in motion as a result of this?”

    By reminding the group of these norms, will help break down any barriers to working together to find solutions or actions that would benefit the problem presenter. It also provides a lens for leaders to reflect on their competencies and blindspots in their current leadership practice.

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