GROW framework

Don’t chase the bone!

What do you say when a person gets into the habit of coming directly to you with a problem asking, “What do you think I should do?”

Your subconscious urge will be to provide your recommendation, or even make the decision for them. Your ego gets stroked because you get to play “the expert”. It feels good.

I call it “chasing the bone”. Someone throws you the bone, and you go galloping off to fetch it like a good dog. You bring it back with your tail wagging. You get to feel like a hero. Mission accomplished.

Don’t chase the bone!

If you are the manager or team leader, you are making a big mistake without realizing it. You unwittingly make the person dependent on you for problem-solving and decision-making.

Rather than being an effective delegator, you have become the victim of “reverse delegation”. Your people don’t learn how to think through the issues and don’t make decisions because it’s easier to come to you.

When people become dependent on you for decision-making, this makes you a bottleneck to company velocity and growth.

Stop playing the hero, and start coaching and developing a team of people who can think for themselves and make well-reasoned decisions (or recommendations).

One of my favorite decision-making models is the GROW framework. I use GROW when coaching clients to make decisions. I use GROW when working through my own decisions.

Ask a selection of these questions in the order prescribed G-R-O-W:

G = Goal. 

What is the goal? What is the desired outcome? What problem are we trying to solve?

R = Reality. 

What is happening? What are the facts? What does the data say? Why is that happening? (tip: ask this last question 5 times to identify the root cause) 

O = Options.  

What options do we have? What are the short-term and long-term consequences of each option? What are the trade-offs?

W = Way Forward. 

What option would you choose? What is the next step? How will you measure success?

Don’t chase the bone! Take control of the bone, by throwing it back to them to fetch.

The goal is to coach your team members to use critical thinking to solve problems and make well-reasoned decisions without you needing to be there all the time. 

I also encourage people to present their problems to me in writing on 1 page using the GROW framework, so I can discuss their thought process with them and understand how they arrived at their recommendation. Then all I have to do is look at their 1-pager and say, “Thank you for showing me your logic. Yes, I agree with your recommendation. Go for it”. Or alternatively, “Thank you for showing me your logic. Here’s another option for you to consider”, and work together with the person to debate the options to arrive at a robust decision.

Note: If the person’s recommendation is different from what I would do but still viable, I recommend going with their recommendation to demonstrate that you trust their judgment and are willing to back their decisions even if you have stylistic differences.

You must be disciplined to stop getting sucked into “reverse delegation”. Instead of giving an answer, bite your tongue, ask the GROW questions, and turn each problem into a coaching opportunity.

Yes, things take longer to resolve in the short term, but in the long term, you build the decision-making muscles of your people.  

So, whenever someone comes to you asking, “What should I do?”, throw the bone back to them, and take them through the GROW framework until it becomes their new default behavior.

Alternatively, for decisions requiring your input or sign-off, ask the person to present the issue using the GROW framework, with a range of options (at least two), followed by their recommendation as to which option they would choose.

Using GROW makes your job easier. You become a leader who is growing a team of leaders.

Who can you use the GROW framework with this week?


Until next time…