Putting the GROW Model into Action (#donttelljustcoach)

another growIn last week’s post, I described the importance of your skills as a manager in having the right conversations with your staff; the dialog, the 2-way conversations in which you avoid the temptation to tell them what to do.

This week, I’ll say more about the GROW model and the basic steps, which are;

  • Goal: Defines exactly WHAT is to be achieved, perhaps a project deliverable.
  • Reality: Describes the current situation, gaps to success, environment etc?
  • Options: Creates ideas of what could be done to bring the goal into fruition.
  • Way forward: Defines the commitment to action and the accountability.

GROW is a structure for a coaching conversation, but it is not intended to be completely rigid in terms of its sequence, and the need to complete any step before moving on to the next one. In fact what often happens is that the conversation moves back and forth between steps. For example an exploration of the Reality or Options steps leads to new awareness and insights, from which it is easy to see that the Goal needs to be re-defined. Perhaps the Goal was not specific enough, perhaps it was not challenging enough.

The most important aspect of the model is that it begins with getting clear about objectives, and ends with getting clear about the commitment to specific action and follow up.

Here are some further tips on using the model, along with some typical questions that will help you to keep the conversation moving.

GOAL is defined once it’s clear that it’s positive, 100% wanted and 100% owned by the guy in your team who has this aligned with his/her objectives. You could use SMART criteria to help with this (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound).   Here are some questions.

  • How much do you want this? (specific, not a comparison)
  • How else could you embellish this? Give me more detail.
  • How soon?
  • What will it do for you, for the team?
  • If you knew for certain that you would not fail, what would you aim for?
  • Can you take complete control and ownership?
  • How will you know when you have achieved it?

REALITY discussion generates awareness of the current status, along with the gap between the current state and the future state. This is likely to include details of skill and resource levels, budgets, the physical environment, relationships in the workplace, what’s been tried before and didn’t work out etc. Questions could include;

  • What are your values and how are they not being met right now?
  • What do you believe about yourself?
  • Whenever you do X, what happens next?
  • What have you tried, where did you get to?
  • What do you think I can do for you?
  • What would create certainty of achieving your goal?
  • How important is this to you, on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • How could you break the goal down into smaller ones?

OPTIONS generates awareness of possibilities through ideas about what could be done. It’s an opportunity to dream a little, to brain storm without imposing any constraints. (We too often tend to focus our minds on what appears practical at any one time, and of course this inhibits thinking and creativity, causing us to “set the bar” on the low side.) But in the Options stage, the constraints are removed. Here are some questions.

  • What could you do, if you knew you wouldn’t fail?
  • What could you do today, this week, this month?
  • Can you give me 3 more ideas on what to do?
  • What is the most counter-intuitive thing that you could do?
  • How can you best use all the resources at your disposal (time, money, tools etc?)
  • What else could you do with my support or my boss’s support?
  • Who else could support you, and with what?
  • Who will give you the encouragement you need?


WAY FORWARD achieves the clarity you both need on the specific actions agreed, together with the commitment, ownership, responsibility and follow up/review.   While Options describes what could be done, Way Forward defines what will be done. The aim is to close the conversation with clarity on what will be done, and these questions should help.

  • What can you commit to doing, today, next week etc?
  • How would that look, in the form of a plan?
  • Who will you ask for help, and what do you need from them?
  • How will you record your commitment? Write it down?
  • Who will you tell? How will you report your progress?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you? (need 8+)
  • When shall we have our next meeting?

So there’s the GROW model in more detail, and in my next workshop, Coaching Others to Be Their Best, you will get the opportunity to practice it.

You’ll work with a role play partner and an observer, both of whom will provide you with a constructive feedback on your skill level. You will meet other like-minded professionals, share experience, and learn from each other in a safe and fun environment.

Please join me at The Watershed in Bristol on 24th March, 9am to 1pm.

Check out the hash tag #donttelljustcoach for short tips on Twitter, and then book here or directly from my website events page. http://bit.ly/1OwHgPn