Understanding The GROW Model of Coaching and Mentoring
Are you a leader or an expert in any field?
Do you desire to mentor others to become like you or even better?
In recent times, there has been a lot of talk about leadership and leadership models. There are different types of leaders and even different leadership styles.
But there’s one common thing among leaders: they inspire and mentor others.
However, mentorship and coaching is not exclusive to people with the title “Leader.”
Think of the coach of an individual athlete. Rarely will he be referred to as a leader even though he mentors the athlete to make him better.
You may be one of these. Or probably you just have a passion for success and love seeing people achieve their goals. Whichever way, success comes only by following a process.
Those who look for shortcuts often get frustrated and disappointed when they can’t sustain the success.
If you seek to help people overcome obstacles and achieve their goals, then this article is for you.
But this is not just for coaches and mentors. If you want to grow out of the failure cycles holding you back, you’ll also benefit from the insight shared in this article.
What we’re talking about here is for both mentors and mentees. So buckle up and read on. At the end of the article, we have a video showing the GROW model of coaching in action.
The need for coaching can easily be seen in the sports world. Yet even in business, coaching is always happening. However, these are not the only situation which need coaching.
Everyone in life will benefit from coaching in one way or another. As much as we can make changes in our lives, often times we need someone to walk with us. Someone to help us clear our minds of the distractions and focus on the goal to be achieved.
There is always the potential to go past challenges and experience victory but in many cases, these challenges appear too big to be conquered. When someone feels like they’re in such a situation, then coaching is a good option to consider.
So, can you coach them?
Are you a coach?
As with anything else, not everyone can be a coach. It’s like being a teacher or a psychotherapist. Though rewarding in many ways, it’s not for everyone.
You need to have compassion, patience, good communication skills, focus and many other skills. But probably more than all the skills which can be listed, you need to be able to draw potential out of people.
Coaching is really about helping people. And the best part is that you don’t really have to be an expert to help them. As long as you have the desire to help, can listen and guide someone, then you’re good.
This is why there are many people called or calling themselves life coaches.
They help people get through challenges and celebrate their victories with them. In fact, the victory of their coachees translates to their own victories.
Central to all coaching activities is the coaching model you use.
There are many coaching models in use today and different coaches prefer different models. But among them is one which is arguably the most common.
This is the GROW coaching model.
THE GROW MODEL OF COACHING AND MENTORING
Like everything else in the world, there are likes and dislikes for the GROW model of coaching and mentoring.
Those liking it hail it mainly for its simplicity and structure. Those against it say that its simplicity is its main undoing. They say that because of its simplicity, it’s unusable for personal training which is more complex.
Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion and after reading through this article, you’ll form your own. And since we said that you can use this model for personal coaching, you’ll see whether you really can.
All in all, the popularity of this model is mainly due to the philosophy which guides it.
Here’s a brief history of the model to show you the underlying thinking.
The history of the GROW model
This model was first publicized by Sir. John Whitmore in his book Coaching For Performance. This was after learning The Inner Game from Tim Gallwey.
The Inner Game is all about conquering the opponent in your mind so as to be focused on the opponent outside. The game was developed by Tim Gallwey who was a tennis coach.
He soon realized that the conventional coaching methods had serious limitations and couldn’t help the players perform to their full potential.
A typical situation was when he needed to shout to the player, “Keep your eyes on the ball.” This is common during both training and actual playing. But despite the constant instructions shouted at the players, performance wasn’t improving as Gallwey knew it could.
So one day, instead of shouting instructions, Gallwey asked, “Can you say “bounce” out loud when the ball bounces and “hit” out loud when you hit the ball?”
This was quite easy to do. But there was something else that would happen.
To say “bounce” and “hit” at the correct time, the players had to keep their eyes on the ball though there was no-one to tell them to do it.
This was a Eureka moment for him. He realized that in order to help the player change, he just needed to ask questions. The answers given would help the players discover what worked and what didn’t.
“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure.”
UNDERSTANDING THE GROW MODEL OF COACHING
You can see the genius in the model. So factual are the circumstances which brought about the idea of the Inner Game and so real were the results.
Given the outstanding results of adopting The Inner Game into the world of business management, the GROW model of coaching was formed. The intention was simple: train managers and business leaders in general so they could achieve better business results.
This model is widely used in training members of teams carrying out a project and even all employees in an organization.
It’s also often used to train the top management who feel like they can achieve more than they’re currently achieving.
So how does the model work?
First of all, the word grow is an acronym for Goals, Reality, Options and Will.
Here’s a break down of that:
G – Goals
The four letters forming the acronym grow stand for the four stages in the coaching process and the first stage is the goal-setting stage.
One thing you must remember at all times is that in a coaching relationship, it’s always about the client. Whether you call him your mentee, coachee, pupil or whatever else, it’s all about helping him.
Therefore, the goals set must be his goals. The coaching client is the one to set the goal of the whole coaching relationship or of each coaching session.
Your responsibility is to urge and guide him to set the right kind of goals.
As easy as setting goals might sound, it’s often a challenge for many. This is often because the goals set are either not measurable or time-bound. Other characteristics of good goals are that they should be specific, achievable and relevant.
In other words, these should be SMART goals.
However, there is more to goals other than just being SMART. They should also be CLEAR and PURE.
Here is what these mean.
- C – Challenging
- L – Legal
- E – Environmentally sound
- A – Appropriate
- R – Recorded
The goals set by your mentee or coachee should also be PURE.
- P – Positively stated
- U – Understood
- R – Relevant
- E – Ethical
Since as a coach you’re helping your client to set the right goal, you’ll have to use some questions. These will help him dig around his mind to find out what exactly he wants to achieve.
Here are some example questions you could use. You can tweak them according to the situation at hand.
- What do you want to achieve from this coaching session / program?
- What specific results would you like to achieve?
- By when do you want to achieve this?
- How will you know that you have achieved what you want?
- What are the benefits of achieving this goal?
- In which area of your life do you want this change?
Once the goal has been set, you move to the next stage—the reality stage.
R – Reality
This stage is also called the Current Reality stage. This is because at this stage, you’re seeking to understand the current state of affairs. Once this is established, then it becomes clear what exactly needs to be dealt with.
Remember that the client is at the center of the conversation. You are just asking him questions and allowing him to answer them.
In the reality stage, you’ll be subtly urging the client to self-evaluate and reflect on the situation he is in. This will help him identify the issues at hand. These are the challenges and obstacles which are preventing him from achieving the goal he stated he wants to achieve.
It’s a good idea to note the things he describes so that you stay focused and help him stay focused too. To ensure you understood what he said, read out what you’ve written and ask him to confirm if it’s correct.
As with the goal-setting stage, you’ll have to use questions to help the client see the individual obstacles standing in his way.
Here are some suggestions.
- What is your current situation?
- Have you tried changing that situation before? What did you do? What were the results?
- Why do you think you have not achieved this goal by now? What do you think is really holding you back?
- On a scale of 1 – 10, where do you think you are regarding achieving your goal?
- Are you confident in your ability to make this change? Why?
- How urgent is your need for this change? What is it that is at stake?
Depending on the complexity of the situation, this stage can take some time. Since the end result is the most important thing in the coaching process, do not rush through the stages.
In some cases, the client may not describe the situation very clearly due to the pressure he may be having. An example situation is when the client is stressed due to some reason. Although you may expect a logically-flowing conversation, that may not happen.
In fact, it’s possible to have a client come in on the first day and despite having explained the first stage, they may jump to the second one.
This is where patience and compassion will have to come in. You have to first listen to the client talk about the issues affecting him. It is only after the emotional burden has eased that they will be able to follow your directions.
You’ll realize that in such a situation, you may not be able to follow the stages in their exact order.
Does that mean that you’ll have an ineffective coaching relationship?
As long as you are actively listening and noting the things said, either mentally or by writing, you’ll be able to guide him towards goal setting even without mentioning the stage.
In any case, the GROW model isn’t really the main thing here. Getting to the solution and working towards it is. The model is just a tool to guide the coachee on his way there.
O – Options
The third stage is an interesting one. This is where as a coach, you can see how the inner game is playing out in your client’s mind.
In this stage, the client is to come up with suggestions on how he thinks he could deal with the situation. This situation is the current reality preventing him form reaching his goal.
At this point, encourage the coachee to come up with all the possible options he can think of. No option should be considered wrong or impossible. Even if he says it then adds that he doesn’t think it can work, just note it down.
This is a brainstorming session and every idea is valid.
Writing these on a notebook is helpful because you two will go through the options to see which one is the best. The best option is the one to be embraced as the solution.
In this stage, you can offer suggestions for a solution but that should come when the client seems to have said all he had in mind. If you make suggestions at the beginning, you could limit his thinking.
Also, the suggestion you make could come at the point of evaluating the options he made. Evaluating the options is the second part of the stage.
Ask him what makes an option viable and what could make it not work. After this discussion, if you think there’s something he missed, suggest it using a question.
For example, your client could have a goal of going to the gym every evening on weekdays. The current reality could be that he leaves work too late thus can’t manage to do this.
If one of the possible solutions (options) is to ask a colleague to help out with evening work, here are two questions you could use to make a suggestion:
- What time do you report to work in the morning?
- Do you think you could report earlier and finish your work earlier?
Depending on what answers he gives, further discussions can take place.
To facilitate this stage of coaching, here are questions you could use.
- What do you think can be done about the situation?
- If you had the power to change one thing, what would that be?
- What options do you have?
- Why do you think that option can work?
- Considering the previous attempts (if any), what would you do differently?
- Do you know anyone who has tackled a similar situation? If so, what did he do? What similarities / differences were there between your situations?
- How do you think you can tackle those specific differences?
W – Will
This is the last stage of the coaching model. Do you see how simple and easy it is?
Yet when you consider the questions which help your client get to his goal, you’ll realize that this model is pretty powerful.
And whereas the first three stages are all important, the last one is probably the most important. This is because it deals with making a decision and acting accordingly.
In most cases where goal setting or even cultivating discipline is concerned, taking action is the biggest challenge.
In fact, walking through the stages of the GROW model with a client, you’ll see that the clients usually know what to do.
The solution is usually somewhere in their minds. It’s just that there were some things clouding their vision. When they find someone to talk with and guide them, they finally see the solution and come up with ways of dealing with whatever is standing in their way.
But now the last bit is the tricky one. Two things must happen here. A decision must be made and action must be taken.
It’s important to let the client known that the only thing that can hold him back is his determination to succeed. This is where the will power comes in.
He has to exercise his will in order to achieve the goal he set.
With the goal set and the best path to follow identified, now the issue of timelines comes in. It’s not enough to say that he will do it. An important question is by when will he do it?
Along these lines of decisions and action, there is also need to break down the action points.
To increase the chance of success, deadlines should be set and even reminders used to keep the client on track.
Here are some questions you can use to guide the client towards the right decision and action.
- If you were to choose one option, which one would it be? Why?
- Do you need anyone’s help to act on this option? What will you do if that person does not help you?
- When can you start doing this?
- If you were to break this down, what would the smaller tasks be?
- Which small task / step can you take now? By when can you finish it?
- What challenges could you face along the way? How would you tackle them?
- What are the dangers / risks of not achieving your goal?
The GROW model of coaching and mentoring is pretty simple yet powerful. And to properly see it at work, here is a video we reserved for the end of this article. It shows a great example situation and how the GROW model is used to help the client achieve her goal.
Coaching is first of all vision-oriented. It knows the goal then seeks to achieve it. When walking with someone down the coaching path, you need to be patient and remember that it’s all about him achieving his goal.
The GROW model of coaching and mentoring is very applicable at a personal level. You just need to ask yourself the questions and come up with answers.
That’s it. And you coach yourself to success.
If you do this, you’ll automatically be able to coach others too.
And as we mentioned about opinions, there are still varied thoughts on the usability of this model at a personal level.
What do you think about this model? Can you use it on yourself?
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