The GROW Model is one of the most widely used methods for performance coaching, leadership development and goal setting in the world today. First developed in the United Kingdom in the 1980s by John Whitmore with the contribution of his fellow coaches Graham Alexander and Alan Fine, the model was inspired by Timothy Galleway’s The Inner Games method which was applied in sports. Through a process of four steps (Goal, Reality, Options, and Will) the GROW model helps people not only find solutions to their problems, but also understand their situations and explore their options, at the same time boost their confidence and self motivation.
In 1979, John Whitmore and Graham Alexander introduced The Inner Games to Europe. They soon realized the success of this coaching method in the tennis courts and its potential for application in organization and business settings. Throughout the 1980s, the team started analyzing tennis coaching sessions and developing a structured methodology along with a set of techniques suitable for corporate coaching. Based on the four stages of the model (Goal, Reality, Options, and Will), Graham came up with the acronym GROW. In 1992, the model was first documented and published in Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore. This book quickly made the best selling list and the GROW Model has continued to prove its significant effectiveness in improving productivity, motivating team members and unlocking personal potential. Nowadays, it is utilized by many leaders, managers, coaches in various industries around the world.
The GROW model consists of four stages: Goal – Reality – Options – Will
|1. Goal||In this stage, you first of all need to decide and define our goals. The purpose is to understand your aspirations, what you want, where you want to go.||– What do you want to achieve?|
|2. Reality||Here you need to look at your present, examine your current situations in order to understand your reality and how far you have till you reach your desired goals|| – Describe your reality?- Where are you now?
– What obstacles stand in your way to achieving you goal?
|3. Options||This step helps you explore potential routes to reach your goals with the aim to understand the possibilities and the pros and cons of each one.||– What are your possible options?- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?|
|4. Will||In this final stage, you need to decide on what you will do and create an action plan. You need to break down the path you have chosen into small steps and put it into a timeline.||– What will you do?- When will you do it?|
In real coaching sessions, John Whitmore himself emphasized on the importance of AWARENESS and RESPONSIBILITIES of both the mentor and the mentees in order to maximize the effectiveness of GROW model and ensure the desired outcomes from the sessions. It is crucial that you follow a set of structured and selective questions to raise awareness and accountability as well as to boost self confidence and motivation.
You should take into considerations and identify different type of goals such as goals for the session, overall goals, performance goals or progress goals and understand the long-term visions for those goals. Goals should be clearly defined and SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bounded) but at the same time exciting and challenging.
Some questions you can use in this step are:
- What is the purpose of this session?
- What do you want to achieve? By when?
- What is the big picture? Do these goals fit the long term vision?
- What will change or improve if you have achieved these goals?
- What will the customers or teammates say?
When scrutinizing your reality, you need to also look into what you have attempted to reach your goals, why your efforts have failed or what impacts they have had. You need to carefully analyze your reality to identify the strength and weaknesses along with the obstacles you are currently facing. This is a chance to assess yourself and your current situation. In this step, it is advisable that you avoid making assumptions. You can use specific examples to demonstrate your views.
Here are some questions you can use are
- What is currently happening?
- Why do you want to change it? What is not going as you want?
- How do you feel about it?
- What have you done about it?
- Why didn’t it work? What impact did it have?
- What is stopping you from achieving your goals?
In the third stage, you will explore different solutions and alternatives that can help you get to where you want. It is good to look into the resources available to you and analyze the pros and cons of each solution.
Some suggested questions are:
- What can you do? What else?
- What has worked in the past?
- How could you do that? What will you need to do that?
- What is good or bad about it?
- What are the steps to take?
- How you will choose the solution?
In the last step of the GROW model, it is time to take actions. You need to create an action plan with a timeline and the steps broken down. It is also important to think about the possible obstacles that you might face and how you will deal with them. At this stage, you or your team members need to show commitment to the chosen solution and the plan. Each and every teammate should be on the same page, understand the steps and hold accountability of the goals.
Some questions you can use such as:
- What will you do?
- How will you do it? What are the steps?
- When will it need to be done?
- If this happens, what will you do?
- How determined are you to making this work?
- How will you motivate yourself and your team?
- When will you review your plan?
Here is an example of GROW Model in performance coaching: You own a tourism company and you want to increase the yearly revenue by 50% by the end of 2016. You will sit down with your team and use the GROW Model.
Step 1: You will set the goal: Increase revenue by 50% by December 31, 2016.
Step 2: You will analyze your reality.
- Your current yearly revenue is $50,000 and you want to reach $75,000 by the end of this year.
- You currently have 30 ready-made domestic tours and 10 international tours.
- Your team has 20 full-time employees and 20 contracted tour guides
- You’re currently marketing through social media, in-flight magazines, brochures at partner hotels
Step 3: You will explore the options.
In order to achieve the set target you and your team think of the following options:
- Increase the number of tours and diversify the options such as adding cuisine tours, culture tours, etc.
- Improve your marketing strategy and implement email marketing campaigns, attend networking events, tourism fairs, etc.
- Expand the network of partner hotels and restaurants; offer them a commission if they refer customers to your service.
You will then analyze the pros and cons of each solution and you and your team decide to combine option 1 and 2; you will create more unique and specialized tours in order to attract a new customer segment and invest more into your marketing channels.
Step 4: You will establish the action plan.
Based on the decision, you all come up with an action plan with detailed timelines and milestones for your company. Steps are broken down into tasks and assigned to relevant teams. You also agree on review the progress every month as your revenue will need to have a monthly increase by $2,000.
To make full use of the GROW Model, you need to practice active listening and try to let the mentees lead the way and answer the questions, you are simply the facilitator. It is also suggested to be flexible and go back to the steps as needed and make sure everyone is engaged and participatory. Also, always keep in mind if you are going in the right direction that is in alignment with the set goals or the vision. As emphasized above the importance of asking the right questions, you should ask questions without leading and try to get feedback from others while creating a sense of awareness and responsibility.
Coach for Performance by Sir John Whitmore, 1992