The GROW Model is deservedly one of the most established and successful coaching models.
Created by Alexander Graham, Sir John Whitmore and colleagues in the 1980s, the GROW Model is globally renowned for its success structuring coaching and mentoring conversations.
The GROW Model utilizes a deceptively simple framework for structuring a conversation through a series of questions that accelerates goal setting, problem solving, creative brainstorming and action planning. The GROW framework is typically used for personal coaching, but it can be also effectively applied to facilitate group meetings for process and performance improvements.
Let’s review the GROW four-step process. GROW is an acronym standing for Goal – Reality – Options – Way Forward.
Start by agreeing on the Goal. This can be a specific topic or objective for the discussion, or a performance objective. Make sure it is SMART.
Then, get grounded on the current reality—what is happening now. Invite an objective assessment of the situation without dwelling on the past. Keep it brief!
The third step is to jointly explore options. Ask questions that help the other person realize their options. Allow them to choose the option they like most.
Finally, discuss specific actions going forward. Anticipate possible challenges and discuss ways to overcome them. Check for their commitment to their action plan.
To use the GROW Model to structure a performance improvement meeting you can apply the steps as follows.
- Goal: Establish a Shared Vision:
Share your vision for the organization. Involve others in describing the desired results that the organization wants to achieve, identifying the value to the organization and to customers. Engage in envisioning the end state as if it has already happened. Groups can present short statements describing the envisioned state that creates a shared story of success. Condense the narrative into a concise and vivid description of what you want to accomplish.
To facilitate this section you can ask the following questions:
- What is the desired result?
- What do we want to see happen?
- What does the envisioned state look like?
- What is the value of doing this?
- What is the shared story of success?
As a facilitator, you may want to encourage everyone to participate. Make the process inclusive and engaging. It is important that everyone feels a part of the vision for the organization.
- Reality: Current Performance
While the goal section was creative and forward thinking, the current reality section is pragmatic and present oriented. Be ready to switch mental gears. This is time to be realistic about the current performance. State what is happening now.
Describe the current challenges. Invite others to contribute evidence and data that validates the current performance gaps.
To facilitate this section you can ask the following questions:
- What is happening now?
- What are some of the problems we regularly experience?
- What challenges do we anticipate in the future?
- What improvements are most critically needed?
- What are the changes we need to make?
As a facilitator, you want to help the group face the brutal facts. As the group starts describing their concerns with the Current Reality, the solution may start to emerge. Don’t rush to solving the problem. Make sure to capture all of the main issues while in reality mode.
Limit the amount of time spent on this section. It is important that we understand reality, but don’t dwell in the current reality.
- Options: Explore All Possible Solutions
The Options section engages the group in creative brainstorming. Be willing to explore many possible options, including new and innovative solutions that have not been considered before. List all the many possible options suggested for solving the current problems. Help team members generate as many options as possible without passing judgment on them yet.
By all means, offer your own suggestions as well. But let your team members offer theirs first, and let them do most of the talking.
Typical questions used to generate many creative options are:
- Imagine you can change anything you want, what would you do?
- If you were king for a day, what would you do differently?
- Consider the best-in-class at this, what do they do?
- If you could wave a magic wand to make things happen, what will happen?
- If you had a genie in a bottle, what would be your one wish?
- After you have thought of everything, what else you could do?
- What else could you do, beyond that?
- What if all constraints were removed?
As you reach a point of satisfaction with the list of options, it is time to reflect on the many options listed and identify the most promising ones.
Define the criteria for selecting the most valuable options. For example, you may want to focus on the options that have the greatest impact, or deliver the greatest bang for the buck, or give the fastest gains, or have the most lasting value. Then, have the team members vote on the top five options based on a well-defined criteria.
Tally the results and verify that you have the right set of sound and viable options. You may want to explore briefly the benefits and downsides of the main options.
- Define the Way Forward:
This is the action planning section. Take a few minutes to review the Goal, examine the Current Reality, and state the main Options to ensure that you have identified viable solutions to the original goal. Facilitate an action planning process that defines who will do what and by when. Allow team members to voluntarily commit to specific actions. Otherwise, make assignments.
Useful questions for defining the Way Forward are:
- What actions do we need to take?
- Who is the best person for this task?
- What challenges do you anticipate?
- What could stop you from moving forward?”
- What will you do to overcome the expected obstacles?”
- What will help you stay on track with this task?
Complete the process by reviewing the action plan, making sure everyone knows their assignment and due date. Establish a process for tracking progress regularly. Assess the level of members’ motivation and capacity to deliver on their commitments. Set a date to reconvene to report on progress.
By using carefully structured questions, the GROW Model provides a tool to facilitate group meetings that promote shared vision, deeper awareness, creative problem solving and proactive responsibility.