The GROW Method For Coaching People

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 their manager or team leader, you make 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 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 frameworks is the GROW decision-making model. I use GROW when coaching clients to make decisions. I use GROW when working through my own decisions.

The GROW Coaching Framework.

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?

W = Way Forward. 

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

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 using the GROW framework, so I can discuss their thought process with them and understand how they arrived at their recommendation.

You must be disciplined to stop getting sucked into “reverse delegation”.You GROW your people by turning each problem they have into a valuable coaching opportunity. Yes, things take longer to resolve in the short term, but in the long term, you build the capability of your people.

So, whenever someone comes to you asking, “What should I do?”, push back, and coach the person to present the issue to you using 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 range of options they considered (at least two), followed by their recommendation as to which option they would choose.

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

Who can you use the GROW method with this week?


Until next time…