Scenario: Silo-ed Participants

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

Each member of the team is focused on their own line of questioning. This becomes particularly clear when participants start asking questions that have been asked by multiple participants.

10 thoughts on “Scenario: Silo-ed Participants

  1. Cleo Wolff

    I have experienced that situation and for me the question: How are we building on each other question? at the first moment didn’t work out. I know I had a direction to the brain, but they kept asking the same question again. I find so good to reflect on that because just now I realized this is a learning opportunity to handle with.

    I would ask: I have observed that some questions have been asked for multiple participants. Has anyone noticed that? What is the impact on the process when we do that? What we can do better as a team? How can we assure we will do that?

    Thanks for the question because made me to be aware of this learning opportunity.

  2. Val Blanco

    Asking the team the same question twice or, even worse, over and over is a clear sign that they are not fully in the activity. Listening and observing are a very important part of the learning process and need to be emphasized whenever needed. There for, the AL coach should intervene to promote a learning intervention asking the team what the impact of posing repeated questions to the group is. Following with the “what, so what and now what” model.
    This also goes for the AL coach, asking the same question even with different wording is not going to enlarge the emotional space, on the contrary. For that, the coach needs to be aware of that and think about different perspectives and angles to face a certain learning opportunity. If the prior intervention did not solve the issue the team is handling, a different question needs to be introduced to the context.
    This is quite a great exercise for the AL coach, being fully present to notice that he/she might also be stuck in the situation and a way to change the scene from a different perspective needs to be find.
    My learning here was that at first the scenario seemed to be very basic, but by thinking it over and paying attention to Cleo’s post, I noticed that there aren’t basic scenarios, only scenarios. Every single situation is relevant for everyone’s learning process and just taking things for granted is a way of not being fully present. No matter what, an AL coach needs to be completely integrated in the scenario, fully attentive and without previous judgments to what is going on, each situation is and must be unique.

  3. Olusade

    As an action learning coach, i will ask “how are we doing with listening to each other?”. this i believe will elicit a response that will jolt the particiapnts to what is hapening. i can also follow up with asking “what are we doing well? and what do you think we are not doing well and then allow them to proffer solutions on how we can improve?

  4. Sarah Rhead

    If each team member is doing this, then as the Coach I can safely assume that no one individual is currently aware, or has noticed the issue, and therefore the team will not self correct. So a learning intervention from me is the most appropriate step forward.

    I would start with a broad question such as “on a scale of 1 to 10 how is the team performing as a group? What are we doing well? what could we be doing better?” If the issue is not addressed in the comments this invites, I would try to remain broad so the team can make the connection and therefore the learning, however I would need to refine the focus of the learning intervention and associated question. So I would progress to “to better build on each others questions, what would we need to be doing?”

    If the team still didn’t identify ‘the need to listen to each other, follow the group’s line of questioning and build upon each others ideas’, I would ask a much narrower and more specific question such as “how can we listen and better support Jane (PP) with our current lines of questioning?”….then if necessary “are team members pursuing their individual lines of questions in this process?” Answer will most likely be ‘yes’ to such a direct question. “How does this impact our ability to help Jane (PP)?”, “how can we improve as a team?”

  5. nelojones

    If this is the case I will probably assume that the questions are not being answered and they are not listening to each other. I will see this as a learning opportunity to intervene by asking How are we doing as a team? i’ll further ask them to rate the team performance on a scale of 1 – 10, then I will also ask questions around the quality of questions and if the questions are being answered, their responses will now lead to further questions as to what they feel will be the impact on the team and process and how can we do it better.

  6. Vivian Chang

    If the situation of silo-ed participants continued, I would advance the first team reflection time and ask the team “What have we done well?” & “What enhancement do we need to do”. If the participants were not aware of the silo-ed questions, I would ask the team “What is the quality of our team questions?” & “What would be the impact if the situation continued?” & “How can we do differently?”

  7. Jeraldine Choo

    I would ask “On a scale of 1 to 10, how are we doing in terms of listening? 1 being poor and 10 being excellent.” Then I would ask each team member “Why did you give that rating?” If they gave themselves poor ratings, and could identify that poor listening is evident due to team members asking their own line of questions and repeated questions, then I would ask “what could we have done better?”. If the team is not aware of the situation, I would ask “Could anyone give an example of how the team demonstrates active listening?” Hopefully, they are able to highlight that asking good questions or building on others questions as examples. Although the team may appear silo, I would focus on the positive demonstrations by the team by asking “Are there any good questions asked?” “how does asking these questions help the problem presenter and the team?” This may result in reinforcement of positive behaviours. “What could we do better to improve on active listening and teamwork?”

  8. Philip Hsi

    There are two possible reasons of this phenomenon, one is poor listening, another is participants tends to use own logic line to form questions. I would intervene on these two possible reasons by the following QAs:
    Q1: I noticed that some questions have been asked and answered several times. Do you notice that?
    Q2: How about our performance in terms of listening to others?
    Q3: What does listening to do with asking insightful questions?
    By Q3, I expect the team to reflect and be aware of the importance of listening and the fact that people can identify opportunities of insightful questions by careful listening.

  9. DrBea Post author

    WOW – Phenomenal responses.

    I would start with the 3 standard questions – How are we doing on a scale of 1 – 10? What are we doing well? and what can we do better?

    Assuming it’s not identified – I would start with the How are we doing building on each other’s questions?

    If the behavior continued I would go the “I observed” route as Cleo described.

    Happy Coaching

  10. William Chew

    In my my first solo session as an AL coach, I noticed that some of the participants were more focused on their own thoughts and line of question instead of building on each other’s questions. I jumped at the opportunity to ask, “Team, how are we doing on building on each other’s question?” I realized that my intervention was not working when the participants kept on asking the same questions again and again.

    On hind sight, I could have better addressed the learning opportunity by perhaps asking, “Has anyone noticed that some questions have been asked repeatedly by different members of the team?” “How does this impact the problem presenter and on the quality of his or her actions?” “What can we do better as a team?”

    I loved Olusade’s suggestion of asking, “How are we doing with listening to each other?” “How can we do better to develop our listening skills?” This would allow the team to explore developing listening skills.

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