[April 25, 2019] Coaching Using the GROW Model
The GROW model is a tool which can be used in many different coaching scenarios and is an effective technique often employed by both new and experienced career coaches. However, the successful application of the tool depends on several contributory factors, including effective questioning techniques and dynamic, flexible use of its key features. It offers a solid foundation which new coaches can base early sessions upon, but can also be viewed as a framework around which future tools, techniques and approaches can be developed.
How Does the GROW Model Work?
The GROW model was popularised by John Whitmore in his 1992 book Coaching for Performance and is still widely used today. GROW is an acronym based on the following key coaching phases of the technique:
- Goals – Establishing the client’s ultimate “goals” and aims.
- Reality – Taking time to really explore the client’s current “reality” or situation before discussing or taking any pro-active steps.
- Options – What are the “options” or courses of action available to the client.
- Will – What agreed action “will” be taken by the client to move towards the stated goal.
Coaching Tips for the GROW Model
It is very important however to note that the GROW model does not exist in a vacuum and must be conducted using the correct questioning techniques to encourage a deeper awareness and ownership of issues. Goals and current realities must be fully explored. As Whitmore puts it:
Whitmore provides a list of questions in his book which can be employed throughout coaching sessions, however, it is essential that these are used as a guide and drawn upon at the appropriate time otherwise the sessions could become formulaic and stilted. The Mentoring for Change website cited in the sources section below makes reference to coaching questioning techniques together with a host of other coaching resources.
Coaching With GROW
The Mentoring for Change website describes the GROW model as an effective means for the coach to find his/her way when “lost” in a coaching session – here GROW is seen as a framework to be pulled out of the coaching toolbox when things need to be re-oriented. In Teach Yourself Coaching (2005), Vickers and Bavister point out that the model offers a “good starting point….but when followed slavishly may become a strait-jacket” limiting a coach’s versatility and flexibility.
Thus, it is advisable for coaches to employ the tool as is appropriate to the session; for instance, many clients approach their initial coaching sessions without any clear goals in mind and so some exploration of the current situation is often required before arriving at any stated aims to work towards. Here the first two principles of the GROW model become reversed.
On balance it would appear that GROW is indeed a useful coaching tool but that it should be used as a starting point and not a coaching panacea. The model provides a valuable and clear pathway which can help both coach and client to locate their position within the coaching process but this must be navigated using the right techniques, allowing the coach to illuminate and animate the process as appropriate to each individual client.