Clowning Around

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

One team member begins to make fun of one point the group is discussing. Initially, this is creative and brings happiness to the group.

– Then this joking is repeated sequentially among team members … a competition emerges to come up with the most creative joke

– The group looses concentration and focus on the problem they are suppose to be working on …. They are primarily focused on clowning with each other!

11 thoughts on “Clowning Around

  1. jeffo

    1. I will as the team if anyone has noticed what is happening in the group?
    2. I will also ask the problem presenter if the set discussion in the last few minutes have been helpful to solving his / her problem? What has been helpful or not helpful?
    3. Ask what the group feels.
    4. What does the team want to do?
    5. If the answer from the team was that they feel it is not helpful, then, what do they think happened that none of them called it out?
    6. What do they want to do?

    Reply
  2. William Teo

    As AL Coach, I noticed that:

    – The group looses concentration and focus on the problem they are suppose to be working on …. They are primarily focused on clowning with each other!

    My response as the to the situation would be:

    1. Team, I noticed that everyone is having lots of fun.
    2. I enjoyed this energy flow too.
    3. Let me also remind you again on the SIX components of Action Learning Programme and
    the TWO ground rules that we have earlier committed to.
    4. Moving on, what can we do better as a team?
    5. Wait for team members to respond to question.
    6. What can we all learn from the situation (losing focus and clowning with each other) just
    now?
    7. Who has the next question?

    Reply
  3. Arun Batish

    I will ask below question :

    1. I will ask question from the group for clarification instead of making accusations or directly
    provoking a disagreement with the one who started the initial joking ? and then the rest of
    the group ? This will allow me as a coach to steer a conversation without making the initial
    group member who started joking feel awkward or possibly arousing offense. And this will
    bring back the group on original discussion.

    Reply
  4. dgodfrey

    I would ask the group: How we are progressing in developing actions? What impact the current discussions has on the progress? How we can ensures there is a steady progress in developing actions? Does the group require more clarification on the problem?

    Reply
  5. May Han

    I would assume the team’s commitment is low and it might be out of little mutual trust, feeling not safe to speak out or unwilling to (or dare not) face the real problem among them. Or they simply lose focus due to TM competition.

    – As ALC, I would ask: “Since the meeting has being doing over 20 minutes, as a team, How effective is our team performance scoring from 1-10?” “What has done well and what can be done better?”
    – “ I see there is a creative joke clowning around our discussion, do you notice that too?” “ And, I am curious why is the joke causing our so much interest?”
    “What does this jokes creating impact on our team performance?”
    or “What is current situation?” Which issue are we really dealing with?”
    “How are these jokes contributive to identifying the real problem now?”
    “How strong is our team mutual trust demonstrating till now, scoring from 1-10?” “What are our real concerns to move forward?”
    And wait for 30 seconds, I would ask, “Who has next question?”

    Reply
  6. Ratchada

    I’ll remind team about session objectives and the agreement on AL process. Then ask that guy whether he are representing his selected leadership competency or not.

    Reply
  7. Mark Relova

    As a coach, I will ask “Team, what do you notice about the quality of our discussion? What do you notice about our behavior? On a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rate the effectiveness of our comments in terms of finding out the solution to the problem? What is the impact if we continue with this behavior? What can we do differently to do better in the next part of our discussion? How can we maximize the remaining time available to us?”

    Reply
  8. Jbethke

    I wouldn’t jump in too quickly on this one first of all. If it got to a point i knew was interfering with the learning, i might simply ask “What is the question on the table?” I like to keep it as simple as possible, but i would also consider asking “What stage of problem solving are we currently in?”

    Reply
  9. George

    1. I would ask the team: “Team, how are we going as a group?”
    2. If I get a response that is something like: “We seem to be losing focus and joking around too much, and need to get back to the problem” then I will ask: “How do you propose getting back on task with the problem?”
    3. If the above works with getting the team back on track (i.e. the competitive joking stops) then all is well with the group for the time being.
    4. If from my initial question (at point 1) I get an non-commital response such as “I think we are going pretty well, having some fun…” then I will ask: “How does it serve the team towards working on the problem, by competing with each other in joking about?”
    5. Then, whatever the response is, I would ask: “Who has the next question?”1. I would ask the team: “Team, how are we going as a group?”
    2. If I get a response that is something like: “We seem to be losing focus and joking around too much, and need to get back to the problem” then I will ask: “How do you propose getting back on task with the problem?”
    3. If the above works with getting the team back on track (i.e. the competitive joking stops) then all is well with the group for the time being.
    4. If from my initial question (at point 1) I get an non-commital response such as “I think we are going pretty well, having some fun…” then I will ask: “How does it serve the team towards working on the problem, by competing with each other in joking about?”
    5. Then, whatever the response is, I would ask: “Who has the next question?”
    6. If the competitive joking starts up again later, I would at that point make the following observation: “Team, I am consistently noticing a pattern of behaviour of trying to out-compete each other with your jokes, and it appears to be diverting you away from your task. I remind you that in X minutes I am going to ask the problem presenter what actions he has from this session. Now, who has the next question?”

    Reply
  10. Tammy Liu

    I will tell the team that I notice they are enjoying joking with each other and ask “What effect will this have on the process? “How do you feel about it ?”

    Then I will ask performance check questions “ How do you feel we are doing as a group so far ? on a scale 1-10? What are we doing well? What could we do better?
    I will ask PP whether the session so far is helpful or not helpful to him ? and how the team can do to help him better for the next xx minutes ?

    Then I will ask the team ‘What is PP’s problem we are working on ?
    If team remember PP’s problem, I will then ask “Who has the next question ?”
    If not, I will ask PP to state his problem again and then move on.

    Reply
  11. DrBea Post author

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

    If no one brought up the clowning around, I would follow with –
    How focused are we on achieving our goal for today?
    Why is it important that we stay focused on our goal?
    What would help us stay focused on achieving our goal?

    Happy Coaching
    Bea

    Reply

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