What is the GROW Model for Coaching?

Professional coaching offers many excellent benefits to clients whether working on personal, career, performance, wellness or relationship issues. All professionally trained coaches have various processes or coaching structures to work from.   Without a solid structure, coaching becomes haphazard where the coach ends up guessing or just using their gut on how to work with a client.   Generally these non trained coaches will struggle to build both consistency in results and confidence.

There are dozens of highly respected coaching models including the GROW Model which this article will focus on.  Within the structure it is important to remember that life coaching is a collaborative process between the coach and the coachee.

Trained coaches will know the right questions to ask,  encourage clients by helping them to understand themselves, and provide proper personal insight for growth. With the right framework, this becomes easier to accomplish. Without it coaching becomes a guessing game.   

The GROW Model for coaching offers one of the most commonly used frameworks for coaches. It can be applied to many different coaching modalities or used independently.

Let's look at what the Grow Model for coaching is, and how it works.

Defining the GROW Model for Coaching

GROW is an acronym that helps to define the overall concept “grow” for coaching. It stands for:

  • Goal (Aspirations)
  • Reality (Current situations and challenges)
  • Options (Resources and strengths)
  • Will Do (Personal actions and accountability including what, by whom, when, and the necessary will to follow through)

This model for coaching was developed by Sir John Whitmore and some of his colleagues in the 1980s. The GROW model for coaching was created specifically to help make leaders stronger. It takes goal setting to a very high level and pushes for well-set goals to challenge the coachee.

The GROW model for coaching is commonly used by organizations. It can be used to allow employees to start to understand the success process. Just about everything in life is attainable with the right process.  If we consider the metaphor of “baking a cake”.   To be successful in baking a cake requires several steps;  Decision on type, find recipe, find ingredients, time, etc….   If one has the right plan they will be successful if not it will be a struggle or they will not achieve success.

 This model will provide the necessary elements for an effective coaching session. It's a powerful structure for coaching and at is core, simple to implement however with training and experience can be used in complicated issues.

Expanding the GROW Model for Coaching to T-GROW

Most coaches will expand the GROW model for coaching into the T-GROW model. This adds the T, which is Topic, to the beginning of the model. With this addition, every coaching session starts with a topic or a theme for the session.

If we consider most coach training schools, it is actually the “T” that is often the missing piece of the grow model.  Without a well thought out topic or focus coaching sessions will generally meander all over.    Professional coaches will not proceed with a session until a clear goal is clarified at the start.

Think of the difference between staff meetings with no set agenda and ones were you have an agenda.  Most of the time sessions with agenda are much more productive and useful.

When Should GROW Coaching be Used?

There are many times when the GROW Model for coaching makes a lot of sense.  Because of its simplicity it can be used by even untrained coaches for basic sessions. Often it is excellent for busy managers implementing a quick internal coaching session.

Teams can use the GROW model for coaching when they need help clarifying goals. Employing the right teamwork strategies through this coaching method can help the team reach the set goals. The GROW Coaching Model can also help a team clarify roles and streamline the process to achieve the goals.

Managers often use the GROW Model for coaching to help create growth within the organization. This coaching method can be used when working with employees one-on-one. Managers can help employees set the proper goals and work towards those goals, while also creating a better relationship.

Even outside of an organization, the GROW model for coaching can be used by parents and individuals supporting anyone needing help to set better goals and understanding how to reach those goals.

Common Questions Coaches Ask Throughout the T-GROW Coaching Model

T-Topic

  • Introduction – Rapport Question: How have you been? - A common opening question to understand the current emotional state of the client.
  • What can we work on today that will help you the most in the near future?
  • List Element
  • How do you think I will be able to best help you with this coaching session?
  • Which areas of your life do you think is most in need of work?

G-Grow

  • What are you hoping to change by setting this goal?
  • What would you like to accomplish in your life?
  • What's most important to you, currently?
  • What is your reason for wanting to achieve this goal?
  • How would things change if you reached that goal?
  • How would things change if you do not reach that goal?
  • How can you speak about your new goal in a positive way?
  • What would disappoint you if you won’t work on it in this session?

R-Reality

  • What does a day in your life look like in relation to this goal or issue?
  • Is this the right time for you to take on this goal?
  • Are you ready to make a decision to follow the process?
  • How do you feel about your current situation and yourself right now?
  • What is your intuition or gut telling you right now?
  • What have been the challenges getting in the way of achieving your goal?
  • What would happen with your situation if you didn't do anything at all?

O-Options

  • How have you tackled this in the past?
  • How could you adjust things to make your goal more attainable?
  • What outside resource or resources do you need to attain this goal?
  • Do you need more training, expertise or consulting to reach this goal?
  • If you could stop doing something or do less of something, what would it be?
  • If you could do more of something or continue doing something, what would it be?
  • What if money wasn't an issue?
  • If you have full confidence in your abilities, what can you do now?

W-Will Do

  • What is necessary to get you closer to becoming the person you want to be?
  • How committed are you to achieving the goal you set?
  • When will you start taking action?
  • How will you know you are successful?
  • What type of resources can help you achieve your goals?
  • What will you be doing over the next day to work towards your goal?
  • What type of support will you need to achieve your goal?
  • What kind of accountability do you need to be successful?

These questions can help a coach guide the coachee through each session. You will not cover all of these questions in one session and sometimes the questions need to be presented in a different order. Depending on the goal, it may take several sessions to completely use the GROW Model for Coaching.

Is Anything Missing from the GROW Model?

For many, adding the T helps complete the GROW model. This is a very popular model for coaches to use. Some label the W as Way Forward instead of Will Do, but these two labels are pretty similar.

The one thing that might be missing is a follow-up on the actual actions taken by the coachee. Following up can be a very powerful way to keep someone on the right path. If you're coaching with the GROW Model, make sure you add in follow up.

Accountability is also key to goal achievement.  Who is the client accountable to and how do they use that?

The GROW Model for coaching can be a great tool for any coach. Whether you are a manager handling internal coaching or an external coach taking on clients, this might be the right framework for your coaching sessions.

Please understand there are many layers to professional coaching.  The GROW Model is a good place to start but certainly other models can be more helpful in digging into client’s personal values, motivational style and preferred styles.

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