The GROW Model

Here we a look at how a widely used coaching framework, GROW, can be useful for mentoring conversations and helping people to achieve their goal(s). This model can be followed in linear fashion during a mentoring conversation, it can serve as an overarching framework for the 6 or so sessions that you have during the course of the year, or elements of it can be dipped into as and when a mentor feels it might be useful. So, what is this model and how do you use it? What sorts of questions might be useful in ensuring that your mentee gains clarity?

Each component of GROW creates a focus that helps people move towards establishing the following:

1) Goal(s) - a clear understanding of what the real issue(s) of their situation is, what they would like to achieve or change and how realistic this is.     

2) Reality - what the key facts of the current situation are that should be taken into account.      

3) Options - what their options are and what the costs, benefits, upsides, downsides and risks of each of these options are.  
4) Will - and finally what they will do and what their motivation around this is - the way forward.

Below we will look at both the 'G' and the 'R', before examining the 'O' and the 'W' in our next newsletter.


A goal is the end point, or where your mentee wants to be. The process of setting goals is most effective when each goal is articulated as a positive expression of what they will do. It also needs to be clear to the mentee when a goal has been achieved. The more specific a goal is when it is set, the more likely it is to lead to higher performance, increased learning or change.

In some situations our goal(s) can seem very clear to us. However, this is not always the case and working with a mentor can sharpen our thinking and focus. Some useful questions to help a mentee include:

i)    What is the issue?

ii)    What makes this an issue now?

iii)   What is important to you?

iv)   What do you want to achieve?

v)    How does that contribute to your overall work objective(s) and current challenges?

Although participants may well be into their second or third sessions by now, it is just as important to check in on these through the course of the mentoring relationship as it is at the beginning. As time goes by goals can obviously change, and new ones can emerge.

Evidence suggests that by visualising what success will look like, we are more likely to achieve our goals. Encourage your mentee to ask themselves what success will look like to them. How will they know they have arrived? What will they feel/see? What might others be saying about them at this point?

As for making the most of conversations with your mentor, try establishing one or two overarching goals that are most important to you. Consider why they are important to you and be honest with yourself.

Moving onto the 'R' of the GROW model, this highlights the current reality of where the mentee is now and what the key facts of the current situation are. These need to be acknowledged to help ensure that the goals focused upon are the right goals, and that they are realistic. Some useful questions to ask are:

 i)   What are the key facts that we need to be aware of here? 

ii)    What is the background and current context of this goal?

iii)   What else is relevant?

iv)   Who else is involved?

v)    'Where? When? How?' questions, rather than 'why'.

It is not always easy to slow down and take stock of where we are, or indeed where we are heading. Reflecting on this and thinking through where we would like to be is a hugely valuable exercise. A mentor can help their mentee to establish greater clarity around all of the key facts of a given situation, as well as help make sure that that their thinking is not stuck.

The beauty of GROW lies in its seeming simplicity. In reality it can be more complex, but there is immense potential to help mentees to focus their intentions, efforts and actions with this approach. To explore how in more detail,  Book here for our seminar on Good Career Development Conversations on 20 November. And look out for our next newsletter in December, where we will look at how to help someone to thoroughly examine their options, weigh up the pros and cons of each and devise a SMART action plan for achieving their aims. 


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