Change Management

The GROW Model

Over recent weeks we have been discussing Coaching and Mentoring skills which enable the development of people, Communication skills which help us to effectively connect with people and in this week’s blog I want to discuss GROW, a model of Coaching and Mentoring whereby you can also use your effective communication skills.

As a leader, one of your most important roles is to coach your people to do their best. By doing this, you’ll help them make better decisions, solve problems that are holding them back, learn new skills, and otherwise progress their careers and to improve performance within your team.

Some people are fortunate enough to get formal training in coaching. However, many people have to develop this important skill themselves. This may sound daunting but, if you arm yourself with some proven techniques, practice, and trust your instincts, you can become a great coach.

The GROW Model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring your coaching or mentoring sessions.

GROW stands for:

Goals and Aspirations

Current Reality or situation – including internal and external obstacles

Options – possibilities, strengths and resources

Way forward – or Will with actions and accountability

The model was originally developed in the 1980s by business coaches Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and Sir John Whitmore.

A good way of thinking about the GROW Model is to think about how you’d plan a journey. First, you decide where you are going (the goal), and establish where you currently are (your current reality). You then explore various routes (the options) to your destination. In the final step, establishing the will, you ensure that you’re committed to making the journey, and are prepared for the obstacles that you could meet on the way.

To structure a coaching or mentoring session using the GROW Model, take the following steps:

Establish the Goal

First, you and your team member need to look at the behaviour that you want to change, and then structure the change to meet the desired outcome.

Make sure that this is a SMART goal: one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

When doing this, it’s useful to ask questions like:

  • How will you know that your team member has achieved their goal? How will you know that the problem or issue is solved?
  • Does this goal fit with their overall career objectives? And does it fit with the team’s objectives?

Examine the Current Reality

Next, ask your team member to describe their current reality.

This is an important step. Too often, people try to solve a problem or reach a goal without fully considering their starting point, and often they’re missing some information that they need in order to reach their goal effectively.

As your team member tells you about their current reality, the solution may start to emerge.

Useful coaching questions in this step include the following:

  • What is happening now (what, who, when, and how often)? What is the effect or result of this?
  • Have you already taken any steps towards your goal?
  • Does this goal conflict with any other goals or objectives?

Explore the Options

Once you and your team member have explored the current reality, it’s time to determine what is possible – meaning all of the possible options for reaching their objective.

Help your team member brainstorm as many good options as possible. Then, discuss these and help them to decide on the best ones.

By all means, offer your own suggestions in this step. But let your team member offer suggestions first, and let them do most of the talking. It’s important to guide them in the right direction, without actually making decisions for them.

Typical questions that you can use to explore options are as follows:

  • What else could you do?
  • What if this or that constraint were removed? Would that change things?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • What factors or considerations will you use to weigh the options?
  • What do you need to stop doing in order to achieve this goal?
  • What obstacles stand in your way?

Establish the Will

By examining the current reality and exploring the options, your team member will now have a good idea of how they can achieve their goals.

That’s great – but in itself, this may not be enough. The final step is to get your team member to commit to specific actions in order to move forward towards their goal. In doing this, you will help them establish their will and boost their motivation.

Useful questions to ask here include:

  • So, what will you do now, and when? What else will you do?
  • What could stop you moving forward? How will you overcome this?
  • How can you keep yourself motivated?
  • When do you need to review progress? Daily, weekly, monthly?
  • Finally, decide on a date when you’ll both review progress. This will provide some accountability, and allow them to change their approach if the original plan isn’t working and some adjustments need to be made.

Helpful Tips

A great way to practise using the model is to address your own challenges and issues. By practising on your own and getting yourself “unstuck,” you’ll learn how to ask the most helpful questions. Then, write down some stock questions as prompts for future coaching sessions.

The two most important skills for a coach are the ability to ask good questions and the ability to listen effectively.

Don’t ask closed questions that call for a yes or no answer (such as “Did that cause a problem?”). Instead, ask open ones, like “What effect did that have?” Be prepared with a list of questions for each stage of the GROW process.

Use active listening skills and let your “client” do most of the talking. Remember that silence provides valuable thinking time: you don’t always have to fill silence with the next question.


The GROW Model is a simple four-step process that helps you structure coaching and mentoring sessions with team members.  It takes you through a journey of change of personal development.

If you are a coach or a mentor, it is a tool that will guide you to help others achieve their goals and encourage better performance.  It will also improve your skills and your performance.

We have a portfolio of courses on change and training management all focusing on the development of people and which include coaching and mentoring models. If you want to know more, why not contact us.


30 March 2020


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