This article provides a practical explanation of the GROW model, also referred to as GROW Coaching Model. After reading, you’ll understand the basis of the method for setting goals and solving problems. This article also contains a downloadable and editable GROW Coaching Model template.
What is the GROW Coaching Model?
The GROW Model helps one start coaching and mentoring in a structured and efficient way to improve performance. Based on a four-step plan, a coaching conversation can be conducted with another person.
The model mainly shows which questions can be asked and how the conversation should be concretely completed, such that it yields clear results. The conversation partner actively clarifies the problem and suggests solutions. Consequently, the result will more easily lead to improvement and intrinsic motivation will be nurtured.
The GROW Model was originally developed in the 1980s by coaching pioneers Sir John Whitmore, Graham Alexander and Alan Fine.
How to use the GROW Coaching Model?
The GROW Coaching Model assumes that the life coach isn’t an expert in his client’s situation. The coach is considered to be an objective facilitator, who helps the client to select the best options, without offering advice or direction.
If the GROW Model is used within teams, other dynamics are at play: As a leader, you probably have some expertise and knowledge. It’s your job to guide your organisation through the options and to prevent harmful ones.
Different Steps in the GROW Coaching Model
The GROW Coaching Model is a four-step plan. GROW is an acronym for Goal, Reality, Options, Obstacles and Will/ Way Forward.
1. Where are you going? (Goal / Objective)
The goal must be set first, both for the longer term (the theme or themes the coachee inputs for the coaching process) and for the meeting itself (what should the coaching session yield concretely?). It’s important that the goal meets the SMART requirements: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Example questions to discover the objective:
- What do you wish to achieve (final goal and objective)?
- When do you want to achieve it?
- How do you know when you’ve reached your goal?
- What situation would be satisfactory?
- Is it measurable?
2. Where are you now? (Reality/ Current situation)
After the goal has been determined, step two explores the current situation. In this stage, it’s important to comprehend and refine the conversation theme. Here, the coach’s role is to encourage the coachee to engage in self-evaluation and analyse concrete examples. It’s important to hold onto the central theme and timely close irrelevant segues. By means of specific feedback, the coach is able to contribute to clarifying the core problem.
Example questions to explore the situation:
- What is happening now?
- Who are involved?
- What have you achieved so far?
- Which results has this yielded?
- What are the most important obstacles for you?
3. Exploring options
The goal of step three is to create ideas that can contribute to solving the problem. Free brainstorming is an important component in this step. The coach encourages the creative thought process in the coachee, categorises the output (for instance by writing things down) and suggests ideas if necessary.
Example questions for coming up with options:
- What options do you have?
- What would a list of your possible actions look like?
- What else could you do?
- What are the pros and cons of the various options?
- How easy or difficult are these options for you?
- Do the various options have any undesired side effects?
4. Choosing from options + motivation + prepared (Will)
The fourth and final step is arriving at a completing conclusion. What option will the coachee choose that he/ she will take every effort for? This step is concluded with a clear action plan about who will do what within what time period.
Example questions for creating an action plan:
- What will you do in concrete terms?
- When will you do this?
- Does this meet your goal?
- What obstacles do you think you will encounter?
- How will you overcome these?
- Who should know?
- Do you need help?
- How will you get it?
Applicability of the GROW Model
You can already start working with the GROW model based on the information above. Important points are: ask yourself the questions, explore the reality and your options, draw up an action plan and follow up on yourself. The coach often uses coaching skills such as active listening, creating report and the balance with leadership and providing feedback.
As a result, the GROW method is truly effective when it’s used by a professional coach. He will also choose the applicable method per client depending on the individual and the coaching and mentoring question.
GROW Coaching Model template
Use this GROW Coaching Model template to use during a coaching session or its preparation. Available as an editable template.
Now it’s your turn
What do you think? Are you familiar with the explanation of the GROW model or do you have anything to add? When do you think the coaching model is effective? What do you believe are success factors that contribute to the practical application of this coaching and mentoring theory?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Whitmore, J. (2010, 2002). Coaching for performance: Growing human potential and purpose-the principles and practice of coaching and leadership. Nicholas Brealey.
- Whitmore, J., & Einzig, H. (2006). Transpersonal coaching. J. Passmore Excellence in coaching: The industry guide. London; Kogan Page. pp 119-133.
- Zeus, P., & Skiffington, S. (2002). The coaching at work toolkit. A Complete Guide to Techniques and Practices. McGraw-Hill Companies.
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