The GROW model
The GROW model is a simple sequential coaching model that allows executives to simplify the complex realities to reach the right conclusion on directions to take and decision to make. It is used by executive coaches all over the world as a framework to use with their work.
As a manager, you are wise to learn how to use it in your 1-on-1s for mentoring and coaching your team members.
GROW is an acronym that stands for:
- Goal (establish objectives for the session)
- Reality (how things are going right now)
- Options (possibilities to consider)
- Way forward (agreement and commitment going forward)
Needless to say, an open and fluent coaching session doesn’t necessarily follow a clean 4 step sequence, but it is a great tool for us as new managers to use as guidance for our conversations.
As you gain experience and confidence with the model, it becomes a natural flow for your 1-on-1s as you allow the conversation to move a bit back and forth throughout the structure.
Similar to many sales techniques, such as SPIN and solution selling, the key to using the GROW model and to coaching in general lies in asking the right question. This is central, because here we are not telling people what to do. Good coaching is about helping them find their own answers by asking the right question at the right time.
Below you find the GROW framework, and some questions that can serve as inspiration for each step in the process.
Coaching starts with establishing a goal. This enables us to focus on one specific thing to try to solve in the session. It’s helpful to consider what goals can actually be:
- Result or achievement goals
- Activity or performance goals
- Learning and development goals
- Process, problem solving, decisions to make
Formulating objectives is not easy either. To get more productive sessions (and for many other discussions as well), you may want to train and practice target setting with the SMART model.
All well-formulated objectives are:
- Specific (concrete that you understand)
- Measurable (can be determined if we achieve or not)
- Attainable (within our realistic reach)
- Relevant (matters – of real importance for us)
- Timebound (agree by when it should happen)
To set the goals/objectives for the session, you may want to ask:
- What do you want to achieve from this coaching session?
- What goal/objectives do you want/try to achieve?
- What would the benefits be if you achieved this goal?
- What would you like that [someone/thing] did?
- What outcome/result would be ideal?
- What do you want to change?
Here we are trying to gain awareness of the reality. What is the real current situation? How far off are we from the ideal? What is going on, and how good/bad is it?
Use your soft skills and go easy with your questions. Plan the question and let the person reflect on the answer. Listen, and avoid jumping to suggestions or sharing your own opinions and experiences in this stage. Here we are defining the context and reality, not finding the answers and solution.
Here are some questions you may find inspiration in:
- What’s the status now (who, when, and how often)? Where are you now in relation to your goal?
- Have you already taken steps towards your goal? (What have you already tried?)
- How would you describe what you did? What was the effect so far?
- On a scale of one to 10, what progress did you make?
- What things worked out the best?
- What could you do better this time?
- What is working well right now?
- Why haven’t you reached that goal already? What do you think is stopping you?
- On a scale of one to 10, how bad/urgent is the situation?
Obstacles and Options
When you have agreed and established the current situation, you can move on to the solution. Start by evaluating obstacles to success, and then the available options. Let the employee lead, guided by your questions.
Here are a few samples you may find helpful:
- What is the hardest/most challenging part of that for you?
- What do you think would happen if someone else did/said that?
- What is the best case? What could make that happen? What would be the worst case? What should you avoid for that not to happen?
- What do you think you need to do next? Which option do you have?
- What do you think you need to do to get to your goal?
- Could you find help in anyone, anywhere?
- What has worked for you already? How could you do more of that?
- What would happen if you did that?
- What options do you feel are the lowest hanging fruit?
- How have you tackled the same situation before?
- If there were no limitations at all, what would be the best way forward?
Similar to the accept phases in sales techniques, we probe for acceptance and commitment to the actions. When accepted, we establish a clear path to the end.
Finally, again, here you have a list of questions that will help you guide your coachee to commit to the right actions to achieve the goal.
- What should you do to start? What do you need to do right now?
- Tell me how you’re going to do that.
- How will you know when you have done it?
- Doing that, what is the likelihood of your plan succeeding? (Use a “on a scale 1 to 10” if you like.) Subsequently, what would it take to make it a 10?
- What hinders do you expect, roadblocks that require planning?
- What else do you need? Is there anything missing? What support do you need to get that done?
- When will you start? Tell me at least two things you can get started with and done already this week.
- How motivated do you feel to get this done now?
- What would happen if you don’t get this done? What would the consequences be?
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