Coaching using GROW - focusing on the R

The GROW model is a framework developed by the late Sir John Whitmore who said that the purpose of a coaching relationship was to unlock the potential of the coachee to maximise their performance.

GROW is an acronym for: GOALS, REALITY, OPTIONS, WILL.  A coach works through each of these stages, not necessarily purely, making sure that the decisions and responsibility rest with the coachee for what is said and decided at each stage.  The basis of this framework is the questions the coach asks.  Using GROW is a way of completing the coaching process.

In my professional experience I use a wide range of tools, frameworks, models and techniques, but find one of the common threads, at some point early on in the coaching relationship, is the need to help the coachee articulate where they are now, in other words, what is happening now, what is the current reality in relation to the goal.  Spending time on "G" is really important before moving to "R".  

R must follow G

As Whitmore himself says, "a purpose is essential to give value and direction to any discussion.... when reality is clear, the goal can be brought into sharper focus or even altered...."

No just the surface stuff

As soon as the coach moves to "R" it is likely that, assuming trust and rapport are in place, the coachee will share information, tell their story.  This is the "reality check".  The need to understand beliefs and values and what's important in this stage is where the coach must aim for and not just transactional information.  Here's my checklist for managing R, followed by some of the successful questions I use:

  • ask for more detail - tell me about that in more detail/what specifically is it....
  • encourage descriptive language
  • consider if the goal needs to be refined or amended
  • encourage honesty
  • use feedback
  • use paraphrasing and summarising to chunk the conversation
  • use re-framing e.g. when something is expressed negatively
  • keep the goal in mind

Sample questions

  • where are you now with this goal?
  • have you any concerns about this goal?
  • what have you tried so far?
  • are there any obstacles in the way? what's stopping you?
  • is anyone else is involved? who else? what do they know?
  • is this giving you energy/draining you?
  • have you been here before?  what happened that time?
  • what's working for you now?
  • where? when? how much? how often? Beware using why (confrontational)
  • tell me some more about that
  • is the goal still realistic?

What the coach aims to achieve with "R"

These are my five outcomes I recommend for R: 

  1. Make sure the coachee's understanding and awareness is raised so that they can work out options and solutions when you move to "O".
  2. Ask, don't tell. No advice.
  3. Promote self assessment.
  4. Identify values, limiting beliefs, personal resistance.
  5. Raise awareness and greater insight (coachee's) of what is happening now.

Above all, the coach must be objective at this stage of the process.  Objectivity is subject to distortions, judgments, opinions, prejudices, suppositions, hopes and fears.  Total objectivity is very hard!  My advice is that the coach needs to aim to remain detached and take great care with how questions are worded.  

See more about my coaching practice and the benefits elsewhere on my website. 

Get in touch if you'd like to discuss coaching further.