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Better Coaching Using the GROW Model

~ By Duncan Haughey

Coaching word cloud

In my article, Why Project Managers Should Coach - I outline the benefits of coaching your project team to produce better results. In this article, I look at a coaching technique that will help you become a better coach. First, let's understand why you should coach.

Why Coach

Coaching helps people develop and become better at what they do. The coach and coachee should look at what needs to change to help the coachee improve their performance. Do this by examining the current reality and understanding the starting point. Are they missing anything? What will they benefit from in terms of skills and training?

There are many definitions of coaching, one I particularly like comes from Eric Parslow who describes coaching as, a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. To be successful, a coach requires a knowledge and understanding of process as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which coaching takes place. [1]

Coaching is not just for poor performance, it can be used to help project team members develop and achieve their goals, while producing better results on your projects.

The GROW Model

In the 1980s, Sir John Whitmore and his team of Performance Consultants developed the GROW model; now firmly embedded in the world of business coaching. GROW stands for:

  • Goal
  • Reality
  • Options
  • Way Forward

The model is designed to help the coachee think things through for themselves and drive towards improved performance. Let's take each area in turn and explore how we use it during a coaching conversation:

Goal: what is the objective or desired outcome? It must be specific and measurable, think SMART. Ask the coachee, "How will you know when you have achieved that goal?"

Reality: what is the current situation? What is stopping the goal from being reached? Check any assumptions with the coachee, "Why do you think that might happen?"

Options: what choices do they have? What different journeys can they choose to reach the goal? This is also known as 'Obstacles Exploration.' Avoid making suggestions on the coachee's behalf.

Way Forward: what will they do next? This is also known as 'Will' or 'Wrap-Up.' Gain commitment to an action and a follow-up if required.

The Coaching Conversation

Once you are ready to start coaching your team member, hold a coaching conversation to explore the options available; asking what is possible? This may take the form of a brainstorming session following the GROW model, taking each area in turn. During the conversation, ask the coachee to commit to specific actions to achieve their goals. If possible, try to find actions that boost motivation. As coach, identify any risks or barriers and remove them.

Good GROW Questions

Here are some questions to get you started, adapted from Sir John Whitmore's book, Coaching for Performance: [2]

Goal (for both the session and the person's short and long-term goals)

  1. What do you want to achieve?
  2. What is your ultimate, long-term goal?
  3. What is important to you now?
  4. What would you like to get out of the next 60 minutes?
  5. On what areas or issue do you want to work?
  6. Describe your perfect world.
  7. What would you like to have as a result of this coaching session?
  8. What steps can you identify that will be essential to achieving your long-term goal?
  9. What will make you feel this time has been well spent?
  10. How will you know when you have achieved your goal?


  1. Where are you now with your goal?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10 where are you?
  3. What has contributed to your success so far?
  4. What skills, knowledge and attributes do you have?
  5. What progress have you made so far?
  6. Does this goal conflict with anything else you are doing?
  7. What is working well?
  8. What is required of you?
  9. What can you control?
  10. What deadlines do you have?


  1. What are your options?
  2. How have you tackled this or a similar situation in the past?
  3. What could you do differently?
  4. Who else has encountered a similar situation?
  5. Which option feels right to you?
  6. If anything was possible what would you do?
  7. What could you do if you had more time, money, freedom?
  8. If this constraint was removed, would it change things?
  9. What do you need to stop doing to achieve this goal?
  10. What obstacles stand in your way?

Way Forward

  1. Which option works best for you?
  2. What is your next step? Write it down.
  3. What actions will you take?
  4. When are you going to start?
  5. How will you make sure that you do it?
  6. Who will help and support you? When?
  7. How will you know you have been successful?
  8. On a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you to taking the agreed actions?
  9. What will you do to get this closer to a 10?
  10. When shall we meet again to check progress?

Practice and Learn

Consider opportunities for frequent and regular coaching conversations with your project team members. The best way to become good at something is to practice. The same applies to the GROW model and coaching in general. The more you practice, the better you will become.


[1] The Manager as Coach and Mentor, page 8, Parsloe, Eric, 1999.

[2] Coaching for Performance, pages 174-176, Whitmore, Sir John, 2002.

Comments (28)

Topic: Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
5/5 (24)
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24th October 2019 4:50pm
Jacob Gubler (Riverton) says...
This is a perfect guideline to follow if you want to be able to effectively give feedback, express expectations to correct, and get confidence in your team being able to work effectively without needing to micromanage.
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18th October 2019 5:25am
malyn manceras (cebu) says...
I believe that coaching is one of the important role as leader because its help your employees to be successful. Using this grow model its helps you to understand the situation and given a change to employees to explain of their own perpectives
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17th October 2019 6:50pm
Martha Hayes (Elmwood Park) says...
I believe in empowering my Team Members and I do this through regular coaching sessions. We discuss day to day work and projects, we analyze what went well and what didn't go so well and we take that as an opportunity to make improvements. We meet weekly and I give my Team Members the opportunity to bring up items that interest them.
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28th September 2019 6:41pm
Shawn Robert Vance (San Antonio) says...
I have a one-on-one scheduled for Monday with a team member. Now I know how to address their advancement goals. Good stuff.
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9th May 2019 7:32pm
Scott (Lebanon) says...
The more that you seek the buy-in of your subordinates, the better your results will be.
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12th October 2018 10:33pm
Janice Paris says...
The GROW model is different way of coaching and seems a good one, as the ideas would come from the coachee.
11th October 2018 5:44am
Julius (CEBU) says...
This is nicely done and straightforward, totally makes sense. Looking forward to applying the model.
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5th October 2018 10:04am
Arianne Jane (manila) says...
GROW is an excellent tool in coaching because it's all about the coachee. On the coach's part, he/she must ask great questions.
26th August 2018 12:28pm
Daneshia Hudson (Lexington) says...
I believe coaching is important to relationships and personal improvements. This article has been very helpful. I will make sure I add this to my coaching experience.
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15th October 2017 5:35pm
Shertina Jones (Charlotte) says...
I like the format and how the questions you can ask are laid out. The will be helpful in my upcoming coaching sessions.
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19th September 2017 12:33am
lashelle richardson (charlotteNC) says...
I really like the way the GROW coaching model is explained and the follow-up questions help.
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18th August 2017 11:33pm
Stephanie (New Castle) says...
I like the details and guidance. I always find examples are very helpful and can't wait to use them.
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15th June 2017 10:37pm
Tammy Marin (Guatemala) says...
Excellent way to see the Grow Questions it gives you a lot of perspectives to plan and see productivity from a person.
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13th June 2017 5:05pm
Karen (Bakersfield) says...
I like that the GROW model is being offered by my company as an effective way to monitor the progress of my employees and myself. Looking forward to the results when I put this into practice.
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6th May 2017 3:13am
Sergio (Guatemala) says...
This method is good because it helps to self discover root causes, behaviors and makes employees conscious about areas of opportunity.
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15th April 2017 6:58pm
Frank Northern (Raleigh NC) says...
The GROW method is a great way to approach performance enhancement and change any behavior.
28th March 2017 12:01am
Robbie Rowland (Cary) says...
I find that coachng one on one while applying hands on can be both rewarding to the person beign coached and the coach themselves. The tools provided and shared above are some great key factors that I will continue to implement.
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25th March 2017 7:23pm
Velma Tailly (RALEIGH) says...
I look forward to implementing this concept. I have team members that are always asking how they can move to the next level. This gives a clear path to helping them to achieve their goals.
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2nd February 2017 3:21pm
Daniela (Argentina) says...
I think the GROW model is a good tool for team development. Thanks for the examples of questions.
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25th January 2017 6:35pm
Sib (Toledo) says...
This is a great way to keep the coachee engaged through the process. And shows that the results are driven by their efforts. Great process.
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25th January 2017 1:39pm
Mohamed Junedulla (Bangalore) says...
I have personally never heard of this model, as this is the first time I got to know. By going through the material and the steps outlined, it is obvious that we tend to relate the way we coach our team members. Yes, we do follow, but not as systematically as it is said. It is effective for both individual and organization.
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24th January 2017 5:32pm
Nicole Greenfield (Montego Bay) says...
This is an excellent way to coach. I'll personally use it going forward.
24th January 2017 3:59pm
Darlene Wade (Lexington) says...
We use the GROW model for coaching at our site, and it really does work. The agents have more input and seem to like it more than the old way where we tell them what they need to do.
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23rd January 2017 7:16pm
Joe Davis (Plano) says...
I think the GROW model is an effective way to monitor the progress of my employees and myself.
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19th January 2017 3:43pm
Sean H (Lexington) says...
I use the GROW coaching in place of almost all corrective action and it gets better results and lowers attrition.
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21st July 2014 3:15pm
Kit.W says...
I have personally never heard of this model, but I like its effectiveness and simplicity in driving productivity for both the individual and organisation, it's a win-win situation.
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11th June 2014 2:31am
Nathalie (Montreal) says...

I like the way you laid out the GROW questions. The way I like to see it is a mini-project. What is the target? What's in the way? How do we get there? Let's get it done. Project Management in 60 minutes.

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