Section 14.1: Coaching Methods & the Grow Model

Navy Gill and Sydney Mayer

The process of coaching is initiated by discussing a defined set of objectives, followed by identifying coaching opportunities, and, finally, developing a measurable long-term plan. This chapter will review some of the relevant tools and theories that can be applied towards coaching for performance. These coaching practices will help employees develop goals, navigate their career path, and move toward a promising future within an organization. Coaching for performance is a way for employers to tie feedback specifically to their employees to help achieve strategic organizational goals. The following methods will be discussed in further detail throughout this chapter:

  • The GROW Model
  • Open-Ended Questions
  • Feed-Forward

In addition, we will discuss the value of coaching as well as using coaching for performance in leadership and how it can positively impact an organization’s ability to achieve its strategic goals. One of the most influential coaching models, referred to as the GROW model, was initially published in 1992 by Sir John Whitmore and continues to be recognized as the most well-established and successful coaching model to date (MindTools, 2021). This simple, yet powerful model “enables the manager to structure a coaching conversation and deliver a meaningful result without telling the employee what to do” (KWELA Handout, 2021). The acronym represents each stage of the model: Goal, Reality, Options, and Will.

Image designed based on the GROW model by Sir John Whitmore at Performance Consultants

GOAL: What Do You Want?

The first stage of the model focuses on the behaviour you want to change or improve upon by using another business acronym referred to as a SMART goal. A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. By following this outline, you can establish what you want to achieve and how you will determine if you are successful (MindTools, 2021). This is the most important step in the process, as it will facilitate the rest of the coaching.

REALITY: Where Are You Now?

The next step in the process is to analyze the current situation and gather information about the environment, which is important to reaching the desired goal efficiently. During this step, it is also important to ensure that the goals set do not conflict with any other goals of the business (MindTools, 2021).

OPTIONS: What Could You Do?

The options stage is where brainstorming takes place to identify all the possible options for reaching the objective (MindTools, 2021). Once options have been determined, the employee must analyze each of the options and make considerations by factoring in all the advantages and disadvantages while using this criterion to make an informed decision.

WILL (or WAY FORWARD): What Will You Do?

In the final step of the GROW model, the employee will need to commit to specific actions to ensure the employee is motivated to achieve the goals (MindTools, 2021). This will encourage the employee to be accountable for their actions, which should also be supported with follow up and review in case any adjustments need to be made to the process.

Over the years, many modifications have been made to change and update the model, with additional components being added such as the GROWS Model or the T-GROW Model.

What do you want to achieve? What is happening now?
What does success look like to you? Why is this happening?
Why is that important to you? How is this impacting you/others?
What other benefits are there? What have you tried so far?
What would make you happy? What is holding you back?
What options can you think of?
What else could you do?
How can you improve on these ideas?
Which ideas have the most potential benefits?
Which ideas will you choose?
What barriers do you foresee in taking these steps?
What will you do to eliminate these barriers?
Who needs to know what your plans are?
What support do you need from others and how will you get it?
How will we know you are succeeding?

Nonetheless, we have attached a short clip of Sir John Whitmore himself, speaking about his original version of the model below.



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People Learning and Development Copyright © by Navy Gill and Sydney Mayer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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