The G.R.O.W. Coaching Model

In one of my prior roles as an Instructional Designer it was required that my manager and I have a 30 minute "one on one" session scheduled. In many cases I would show up at my Manager's desk prepared to discuss my professional development, or hear some feedback, or discuss my current challenges. In most cases my Manager would ask if everything was okay. I would reply "Yup" and then I was invited to come by their desk next time when their might be something else we could discuss.

When there was something to discuss it usually went something like the coaching session you see in the following video:

You can see here the manager is making many of the common communication errors.  She's inattentive, focusing on her own work or issues, She is interrupting, and ansticipating what is going to be said next.  In general she is not providing any value to the situation.

I remember coaching sessions with other Managers that went extremely well. I never understood what process I was being guided through until I took a recent course on coaching.  This course got me thinking about some coaches that I have known.  I thought of those collegues from my past who were more guides than anything else.  They got me thinking about what I already knew in relation to the challenges I was facing.  By asking some key questions they unlocked the asnwers that were already within me.  Obviously I perceived them to be relatively passive in the coaching role but the results were far from that.

The coaching model we learned in class was the G.R.O.W. coaching model. This was a simple to learn four step method that would allow you as to really get at the potential of the person you were coaching.

The G in G.R.O.W. stands for goal. With every coaching session you need to identify what the person being coached wants to accomplish. Goals should always be specific, measurable, have a deadline. You can do this by simply asking questions like:
  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Where would you like to improve?
  • What are you trying to do?
  • What is your goal?

It doesn't need to be complicated but you may need to help the person being coached to ensure their goals are as focused as they can be. Having the goal to lose weight someday isn't specific enough and certainly does not have a deadline. Goals like this often are never achieved for those very reasons.

The R in G.R.O.W. stands for reality. Having a goal is a great first step, however you need to establish your baseline. I can give you directions to drive to California, however if I don't know where you are starting from, those directions may be meaningless to you. You could end up driving in the completely wrong direction. Ask the person being coached questions like the following:
  • How are things going today?
  • Where do you find yourself at this time?
  • How far have you gotten?
  • What's the current situation?

The O in G.R.O.W. stands for options. The next step with the person being coached is to have them consider what their options are. If the person being coached is struggling with this you can simply present the options, allowing the person to make a choice on their own, or you can ask them more questions allowing them to unlock the possible choices on their own. Ask the person being coached questions like the following:
  • What do you think might be some options?
  • What choices do you think you have?

The W in G.R.O.W. stands for Willingness or what is the person being coached willing to do. Because this is their goal and not yours, it's important that this be calculated on their own. You can facilitate this by asking questions such as:
  • What is the best option for you?
  • What can you do now?
  • What will it take for you to achieve this goal?
I remember being taken through this process feeling frustrated at first when I was thinking:

"I wish they would just tell me the answer!"

Turns out that once a goal was realized I was quite pleased with myself that I was able to set a goal on my own, making the possibility of me achieving this goal so much greater. Coaching of course isn't teaching or training, however coaching works hand in hand with training. At some point your learners may come to you looking for answers you know they already have inside of them. You could just provide the answer, but think of the benefit of guiding someone through a little self discover using the G.R.O.W. model. Your learner is far more likely to take their personal goals more seriously if it comes from within.