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ATD Blog

Follow the GROW Model in Times of Turbulence


Thu Jul 20 2017

Follow the GROW Model in Times of Turbulence-d285ab32080493b37405a77a5179542fc98572058edbb79212f5a82f17755390

A manager’s actions can affect overall communication, improve business interpersonal relationships, and influence the future. What’s more, they have multiple opportunities to drive organizational productivity and enhance the quality of the work environment. The key is to drive employee aspirations into action—so they can achieve personal as well as professional goals.

In times of turbulence, using a model can provide the structure to deepen work experiences and build more desired behaviors. Enter the four-stage GROW model, developed by Graham Alexander, Sir John Whitmore, and colleagues in the United Kingdom during the 1980s. First published in Whitmore’s book, Coaching for Performance, the GROW model is a flexible approach you can use to enhance decision-making skills, goal setting, and problem-solving activities.


Let’s take a closer look at the four stages: 

G – Goal  

It is critical that managers establish at the outset of a conversational engagement with the employee what he or she must achieve. This builds purpose into the relationship and insights into the potential big picture regarding the business and optional actions. Defining achievements need to be specific and clear. Personal improvements along with influencing of others can also happen. 

R – Reality 

The key at this stage is for the manager and employee to understand where employees currently are and any progress toward established goals. Are employees clear on their current abilities and do they have the knowledge they need to meet goals. A manager can help the employee better understand their own attributes and strengths, and build awareness about opportunities for personal growth and development. 

O – Options  

This is when a manager helps employees explore options and for learning new ideas and strategies. Managers can help identify obstacles and discuss various ways to deal with challenges. To succeed at this stage, it is important to get a handle on time constraints, cost impacts, and risks associated with choices. 

W – Will / Wrap-Up 

This stage provides a clear opportunity to look back at any of the other stages to examine the process, the relationship, and progress toward specific goals. This stage should be driven by the employee, but the manager helps pinpoint specific action steps that will help move the employee meet goals. Keep in mind that the employee must fully commit to steps going forward. 


Moving Forward 

Leadership conversations can transform individuals—building their personal awareness and unlocking their confidence and motivations. Conversations are powerful ways to change behaviors and enhance the abilities of individuals to impact business as well as personal outcomes. Following the GROW model is a good way to address the needs of employees throughout the conversation.

Bottom line: Managers must lead in an increasingly technical business world, and we need to drive speed and efficiency. Yet we must also learn to navigate during times of uncertainty and transition by communicating openly, building relationships with feelings, and influencing the future.

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