Reduce your stress and empower your team
If you have ever felt overwhelmed in one on one meetings if you ever find yourself directing and telling more than listening, if you ever have received feedback from team members that you are overpowering or if you are looking for a template for brainstorms, GROW is for you.
Before I learned to use GROW I used to dread one on ones, a used to tell people what to do more than I would listen, and I always received feedback that I dominated discussions. This is not the kind of person I want to be, GROW helped me change.
Learning to use the GROW framework will help you truly listen to your team members and colleagues, it will help you get far more out of a one on one or brainstorm and ultimately lead to happier, more empowered teams building better products.
I learned to use the model from one of the experts whilst being trained as a performance coach. Since then I have used it almost every single day as a coaching tool, a goal-setting tool, a conflict resolution tool, and as a brainstorming tool.
How it works
GROW stands for:
- Goal: the goal of the team member or the team; where you want things to be in the future
- Reality: the present situation today
- Options: the options the team member/coachee or team can put on the table
- Will: the will of the team member/coachee / team to achieve the goal
Example: Coaching one on one
Say a team member comes to you with a problem: do we implement feature a or feature b? What is your instinct as a leader? Using GROW you can empower your team to take responsibility and ownership. You do this by asking a few questions:
The intention of the goals section is to generate positive feelings about the goal. This occurs when the team member or coachee takes ownership and suggests goals.
- We have X minutes to talk, what would you like to walk away with?
- What is your dream goal relating to this issue?
- If you could wave a magic wand, what outcome would you like?
- When we solve this goal, what will it let us do that we cannot do today?
- What’s it going to feel like when we have solved this?
The intention of the reality section is to zoom into today and get to the details of the matter. As the coach/manager/leader, you are not trying to understand the situation, you are trying to prompt the coachee/team member to understand it for themselves. You also have the chance to empathize with their situation.
- What is the situation today?
- How important is this issue to you/us on a scale of 1-10?
- What impact is this having on you, personally?
- How is this making you feel?
- What is the best possible outcome?
- What is the worst possible outcome?
- How do you assess the risk?
The intention of the options section is to prompt the coachee/team member to think of all of the possible options they could choose. We are trying to develop self-awareness and empowerment in team members, so we want to help them come up with as many ideas as possible.
- What options do you have?
- If you have faced a situation like this before, what did you do that worked that time?
- What experiences have you had in the past that may help now?
- Is there anyone else you can ask for help?
- What other ideas do you have?
- If there was going to be a solution that you have not thought of, what would it be?
The intention of the will section is to let the coachee/team member take responsibility for their actions.
- Which of the options will you choose?
- How will you do that?
- Is anything standing in your way?
- Do you need any permission to act?
- On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to acting?
- How can I help you keep yourself accountable?
- When should we check-in next?
Example: Group brainstorm
Say you are brainstorming a new product release, you could use the GROW model as follows:
- We have 12 weeks until launch, what would we like to achieve?
- What is the dream goal?
- How do we want to feel, as a team?
- How do we want our customers to feel?
- If we could wave a magic wand, what would we want?
- How will we measure success?
- What feedback is the product currently getting?
- What issues did we identify in the last retro?
- What are our customers asking for?
- What are the major risks?
- Which other stakeholders are involved?
- What could we build?
- What else could we do?
- What other ideas does each of us have?
- If we had to choose something different, what would it be?
- How could we get the stakeholders what they want and do what we want?
- What would it look like if we delivered features only for one user segment?
- Which options do we choose?
- When will we have it done by?
- How will we know if we are on track?
- How will we know that we’re building the right things?
- How committed are we to making this happen?
- How will we keep ourselves accountable?
As you can see, in both examples the leader (you) listened more than they talked, they encouraged input from their teams, they asked their teams to commit rather than forcing schedules and requirements onto them.
Over to you - give it a go and let me know how you get on.
Full Set of GROW Questions
GOAL The Goal for the conversation/brainstorm
- What would you like to achieve in this conversation?
- What is the aim for this conversation?
- It sounds like you have two goals.
- Which would you like to focus on first?
- What would make this time well spent for you?
- What would be the most helpful thing for you to take away at the end of our conversation? We have half an hour for this, where would you like to have got to by then?
- If you had a magic wand, where would you like to be at the end of this?
- What’s the dream?
- How would you like it to be?
- What does that look like?
- What will you be saying to yourself?
- What will that enable you to do?
- What will other people be saying to you?
- What will you have that you don’t have now?
- Imagine three months from now, all obstacles are removed, and you have achieved your goal:–What do you see/ hear/ feel?–What does it look like?–What are people saying to you?–How does it feel?–What new elements are in place?–What is different?
- What would be an inspirational goal for you?
- What outcome are you looking for?
- What will it bring you personally?
- What stretch will you need to achieve this goal?
- What is the timeframe?
- What milestones can you identify?
- What are their timeframes?
- How would you break this goal down into smaller pieces?
- What would it mean to you to achieve this?
- What is important to you about this process?
- What more do you want?
- What would a great outcome be for you from this?
- What would a successful outcome look like?
- \What would a successful task completion look like?
- What are you working toward here?
- When do you need to have achieved this outcome?
- What is happening at the moment?
- How important is this to you?
- On a scale of 1–10, if an ideal situation is 10, what number are you at now?
- What number would you like to be at?
- How do you feel about this?
- What impact is this having on you?
- What is on your shoulders?
- How does this affect other areas of your life?
- What are you doing that takes you toward your goal?
- What are you doing that is getting in the way of your goal?
- How much …? How many …?
- Who else does it affect?
- What is the present situation?
- Exactly what is happening now?
- What is your main concern here?
- Who else is involved/ affected?
- How much control do you have personally over the outcome?
- What action( s) have you taken so far?
- What has stopped you from doing more?
- What internal resistance do you have to taking action?
- What resources do you already have (skill, time, enthusiasm, support, money, etc.)? What other resources are needed?
- What is the real issue here?
- What are the main risks here?
- What resources do you already have?
- What is your plan so far?
- What can you count on yourself for here?
- What are you most/ least confident about?
- What could you do?
- What ideas do you have?
- What alternatives do you have?
- Is there anything else? If there were anything else, what would it be?
- What has worked in the past?
- What steps could you take?
- Who could help you with this?
- Where could you find out the information?
- How could you do that?
- What are the different ways in which you could approach this issue?
- What else could you do?
- What would you do if you had more time/ control/ money?
- What would you do if you could start again, with a clean sheet?
- Who do you know who would be good at this?
- What would they do?
- Which options would give the best results?
- Which solution appeals to you most?
- What could you do to avoid/ reduce this risk?
- How could you improve that situation?
- So now, how do you want to do that?
- What do you think?
- What else could work here?
- What ideas do you have that might work here?
- What would help you to remember?
- What would a permanent solution look like?
- What could you do to avoid this happening again?
- What choices do you have?
- I have some experience in this area, would it help if I made a suggestion?
Stage 1: Accountability Set-up–define actions, timeframe, and measures of accomplishment
- What will you do?
- How will you do that?
- When will you do it?
- Who will you talk to?
- Where will you go?
- Is there anything you need to put in place before that?
- How committed are you to taking that action?
- What will it take for you to commit to that?
- Which option( s) do you choose?
- To what extent will this meet the goal you have?
- How will you measure success?
- What is the first step?
- When precisely are you going to start?
- What stops you starting earlier?
- What could happen to hinder you taking this action?
- What personal resistance do you have, if any, to taking this action?
- What will you do to minimize these factors?
- Who else needs to know what your plans are?
- What support do you need?
- What will you do to get that support?
- What could I do to support you?
- What can you do to support yourself?
- What is your commitment to taking this action (e.g., on a scale of 1–10)?
- Who will take that action?
- What’s the next step for you?
- When will you take that first step?
- What time will that be finished by?
- What is your commitment to this action?
- What might happen to prevent you from taking this action?
- Who else can you call on to help you?
- What else do you need?
- What specific actions will you take?
- How will you know it has worked?
- How will I know (accountability)?
- What is/ are the best option( s)?
- What changes will you make?
- What will you do to make sure that happens
- The questions above came from Coaching for Performance.
- Check out this video overview.
- I was trained by Performance Consultants who focus on performance coaching.
- Wikipedia’s GROW article is helpful and accurate.
- Here’s a more business focussed overview.
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