If you are a dedicated leader who wants to help everyone on their team improve, you need to be a mentor that truly listens and understands.
There are numerous ways to coach your team and even great company coaching programs that can improve your leadership skills or the performance and wellbeing of your employees.
However, if you choose to do it yourself, there is no simpler and more straightforward model of coaching than GROW. Here’s what it is and how it works.
What Is GROW?
GROW is a coaching framework that you can apply in any discipline and area of interest. It was introduced by three business coaches in the 1980s — Sir John Whitmore, Graham Alexander, and Alan Fine. In the 1990s, it was further popularized by Sir Whitmore’s book, Coaching for Performance, and it quickly became one of the most popular coaching models in the world.
Whether you want your team to carry out a project successfully, or you want to help your employee reach a new milestone, you can rely on this model.
It is a goal-oriented coaching framework that follows four crucial steps; hence, the acronym. It stands for the following:
- Goal (What do you want to achieve?)
- Reality (Where are you now?)
- Options (What could you do to achieve it?)
- Will (What will you do?)
So the acronym outlines clear steps you can use to help your team or its members achieve what they want. If you use this approach, as a mentor, you can either act as a facilitator or take a more active role.
Here’s how it works.
Goal — Establish What You Want to Achieve
As this model can work for any kind of problem, you can set any goal you like, short-term or long-term. The important thing is that the goal is SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound).
The goal can be as inspiring and challenging as you like, but it needs to be based on reality. For example, your teammate’s objective can’t be to win the presidential election next year if they’re not in the race at all. This is an obvious exaggeration, but you get the picture.
If you want your goal to be attainable, you need to ask yourself how you will know you have reached it. A vague idea of what you want to achieve won’t do.
Reality — Where Are You Standing Now?
As we have seen in the presidential election example, we can’t plan for the future without assessing our current situation or reality, i.e., putting the plan in context.
What is your coachee’s current situation? How far are they from reaching their goal? What are the obstacles? How about their strengths? Have they already begun working on it?
These are only some of the questions you can ask to establish a starting point based on which you will know how to act further.
This stage can also make you reassess the goal and how realistic it is. In fact, each step in this model can end up in a brief revision of the goal and the details around it. For example, if your coachee wants to become a senior manager next year and they’re only in an entry position now, you might want to reassess the timeframe for achieving that.
Options — What Can You Do?
This step is essentially a brainstorming session. Once you and your team members have assessed the current situation and the attainability of their goal, you can start thinking about the possible ways to achieve that.
You should let your coachee come up with most of the ideas while you encourage them with a lot of questions. Urge them to see as many options as possible and to explore the pros and cons of each of them.
This is also the right time to think about potential obstacles and how they change things. What can they do to bypass them?
Will — What Exactly Will You Do?
The final step of the process is settling for specific actions in order to reach the goal. Now that you have brainstormed the options and assessed their advantages and disadvantages, help your team member pick one and stick to it.
It’s vital to set a timeframe as well as at what intervals you will review their progress together. Another important thing to do is to establish what you can do to help them get back on track if need be. Ask them how they can remain motivated and what role you can play in that.