Scenario: Eager Team Member

As an Action Learning Coach how would you handle the following situation:

A member of the team you are coaching insists on answering questions that are being directed to the Problem Presenter

13 thoughts on “Scenario: Eager Team Member

  1. Julia Storberg-Walker

    This is an interesting situation. The word ‘insists’ is a bit ambiguous–it could mean that the person is intentionally continuing to answer PP questions after being coached not to, or it could mean that the person is just a bit clueless about the process. I’m going to think of the latter, and would intervene rather quickly after noticing a pattern of answering for the PP. I would ask the group, first, to describe the pattern of conversation. I may then ask the group what could be some possible reasons for this pattern? Depending on the comfort zone of the team and the feeling of safety between members, I may ask the member who is answering in place of the PP to describe her/his perspective on the problem. I would be more interested to understand the motivation behind the behavior than ‘correcting’ it per say, and hope to use the situation as a way for the whole team to learn about team roles, expectations, and power.

  2. Ivy

    At first I would wait to see if the team self corrects. If that does not happen, then I would intervene with a broad question, “what are we observing in terms of the answers given for the last few questions?” I expect that one or more team members will highlight that the questions are being answered by the eager person and not the PP. If the team members do not raise this issue, then I would ask a more specific question, “Who was the question addressed to and who has been consistently answering?” After hearing the replies, I would ask, “What is the impact on the quality of the discussion?”

  3. Celia Wahl

    I would lean in and ask the group, “To whom are the questions being asked?” “How does effect the outcome of the discussion?” “Who has the next question?”

  4. Lye Chon Seng

    I would intervene to ask the team for consensus whether the question should be more appropriate to be handled by problem presenter in term of scale 1 to 10. If majority agree, I will ask problem presenter to continue to answer the question.

  5. Cleo Wolff

    I would internvene and ask: From a scale 1-10, what is the balance of participation of the team? Waht are we doing well? What we could do better? What is the impact on the team when more people have the chance to participate answering questions as well?


  6. Jill Bayly

    I might be tempted to say” how are we going as a team in responding to the question on the table today?” If the team responded with recognition related to what was happeneing, I might add” what is the impact on the team when each member is unable to contribute or share in the discussion?”

  7. Kang

    If the team does not self correct after 2-3 occurrences, then I would intervene by asking “What have we observed about the balance of participation thus far?”, followed by “Who would be in the best position to answer the last 3 questions?”

  8. Sarah Rhead

    I would look to see if the team noticed. I would wait for it to occur again to see if the team self corrects. If they do not I would ask the team “In what ways could this team work more effectively together?” If they do not name the behaviour I would wait for the next opportunity when it occurs again and ask “team member x [who posed the question to PP], was your question directed to the PP?”

    If it doesn’t occur again I would not want to lose the learning opportunity. I would use the ‘reflections on learning’ component of our session to pursue the following question: “how can we best empower people to solve their own problems?” The answer of course being by asking them questions and helping them in doing so to identify their own solutions.

    It is likely somebody from within the group would cover this territory in their response and we could the further the discussion by relying how we could pristine this in the workplace with our team members and peers, and in many other areas of our lives.

  9. Jeraldine Choo

    Happened to me before, in that situation, I asked the person who asked the question “Is this question directed to the team?” That person said that it was directed to the problem presenter, but he doesn’t mind inputs from other team members as well. I asked the eager team member (XX) to allow the problem presenter to answer first, then he can provide his inputs thereafter. I let this go as the person who asked the question mentioned that he doesn’t mind inputs from other team members. However, when it happened again, especially when XX interrupted when someone else was talking and he even commented that the inputs given by that person is invalid, I intervened. “XX, is the question directed to you?” “Team, on a scale of 1 to 10, how are we doing in terms of participation?” “Did everyone has a chance to speak?” Fortunately in my case, the problem presenter highlighted XX’s behaviour. He said that not everyone has a chance to speak and people should not be judged by the statements they made or questions they asked. I asked “How does this impact on the team and discussion?” “what could we have done better?” In the final reflection segment, I brought this learning up again and drew parallel to the organisational context.

  10. Alissa Haslam

    I would see if the group self-corrects before intervening. I would start by clarifying who the question is being asked of, remind the team of the ground rules and then ask the team “what does the team notice about participation?” I would follow that up with a question regarding impact; “what impact does this have on the team and it’s ability to work on the problem?” I might also ask the team to reflect back on their individual learning objectives and ask how they are being brought into the current discussion.

  11. Philip Hsi

    At first, I will ask volunteer to restate the ground rule of making statement only after been asked questions. And I will reassure team’s commitment to follow the ground rule. I would allow some time for that person to struggle for the rule. If he is still deeply in struggling, I will ask the team: “What to do if any one of us has statements to make but was not asked a question? The answer could be simple as “Just keep it till the opportunities come”. The team may came out good solutions by itself. This process will help that person more calm down because he is supported although he has to follow the ground rule. I can add on to ask: “What questions can we ask to clarify and deal with assumptions which influence our teamwork?” or “What questions can we ask to explore wider perspectives for this problem?” No matter what, the bottom line is to follow the ground rule.

  12. wial_talk

    I would use what I refer to as a ‘policing intervention” for this one. I would ask the eager person – What question are you answering? followed by asking the questioner – Who was the question directed to?

    During a full intervention I would explore the balance of who is asking and who is answering questions.

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