The GROW Model: Part 2

In the first Cityparents Mentoring Programme Newsletter we explained how the first two elements of a widely used coaching model, GROW, might be used in a mentoring partnership.  It highlighted how useful it can be for mentees to step out of their everyday, slow down and take time to work out what it really is that they would like to focus on and what their goals for mentoring are. In this article, we re-visit the framework for further inspiration and guidance. Below is a reminder summary of how GROW can be used.

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 and what they would therefore like to achieve or change.     

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

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.

Turning to the 'O' and the 'W'.

As with the ‘G’ and ‘R’ of the model, it is not always necessary to use this at the start of the partnership, but can be incredibly useful to draw upon at any point during the mentoring programme, particularly if you sense that your mentee is becoming stuck. There is immense value in taking a fluid approach to your mentoring relationship, being guided by your intuition and simply checking in with your mentee and asking them what approach works best for them. Awareness is more important than rigidly following a model. However, using techniques and tools can also reap rewards by supporting and encouraging your mentee to distil and work towards what matters most to them.

Exploring ‘Options’

Put simply, this involves identifying the possibilities and alternatives, as well as outlining and questioning a variety of strategies for progression. The value lies in making this as creative a process as possible, rather than a purely rational one. This can be achieved by getting someone to think as fully as possible about all of their choices and by challenging them to overcome any negatively expressed, or underlying, assumptions. Some useful questions to ask include:

i) What could you do?

ii) What alternatives do you have?

iii) Is there anything else?

iv) If there were anything else, what would it be?

v) What would you do if you had more time/control/money?

vi) Which options would give you the best results?

Mind mapping is an effective, creative means of helping people to become unstuck from their familiar perspective or way of thinking. This can have a lasting impact on the way in which future challenges are viewed, as the technique can be applied to all sorts of situations when we need to make sure we are examining sufficiently varied options before deciding on the best way forward. 

Moving on to ‘Will’

Here we focus on helping someone to sort through their options, weighing up the benefits and costs of each, before then committing to specific action that is measurable, achievable, realistic and with a timeframe. Some useful questions to ask include:

i) What will you do?

ii) How will you do it?

iii) When will you do it?

iv) How committed are you to taking that action?

v) To what extent will this meet the goal you have?

What is the first step?  

Once you feel that clarity has been gained it is useful to encourage your mentee to prioritise their options, and to also establish a form of accountability that will work for them. How will they know they have been successful? Who else can help them to maintain momentum along the way?

As we explained in our last newsletter, the beauty of GROW lies in its seeming simplicity. It can be more complex in practice, and it is not coaching in itself. But there is immense potential to help mentees to focus their intentions, efforts and actions with elements of this approach. The power of mentoring partly lies in being in the moment, noticing what is not being said, as well as what is, and generally being aware of what you are learning about them, and yourself, through the journey together. Tools such as GROW can help us at certain points along the way.


About Sarah Tennant, Accredited Executive Coach, Facilitator and Cityparents Mentoring Programme Adviser:

Sarah established SLT Executive Coaching in 2017 and works across industries with individuals and teams. She specialises in coaching people through career transition points such as parental leave, returning following a career break, outplacement and career change. She thrives on helping people and organisations manage change and build resilience, and is a strong advocate for working cultures that support people to develop their careers at all stages of their lives.


Reference: Whitmore, John. Coaching for Performance. 5th ed. Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2017.


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