GROW Coaching Model Pros and Cons

As a leader, one of your most important roles is to coach your people to do their best. By doing this, you’ll help them make better decisions, solve problems that are holding them back, learn new skills, and otherwise progress their careers.

Some people are fortunate enough to get formal training in coaching skills. However, many people have to develop this important skill themselves. This may sound daunting but, if you arm yourself with some proven techniques, practice, and trust your instincts, you can become a great GROW model coach.

In this blog, we will explore the following topics to analyse some of the pros and cons of the GROW coaching model:

The impact of the GROW Coaching Model

GROW coaching skills unlock potential and increase performance by increasing self-confidence and motivation. Asking effective questions in a carefully structured way promotes deeper awareness and greater responsibility which leads to practical steps to accomplish goals and overcome obstacles.

The GROW Model has been seen to yield higher productivity, improved communication, better interpersonal relationships and a better-quality working environment.

The GROW Model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring your coaching  or mentoring  conversations.

The GROW model can be effective regardless of your leadership style. It provides a realistic and straightforward way of getting things done. 

Why is GROW so effective?

Taking a coach approach to managing people is more than just spending time talking one-to-one. There are a number of reasons that the GROW model is increasingly popular:

1. It allows the coachee to take responsibility (while being supported)

As a coach, you help others to discover for themselves what is working and what needs to change, prompting deeper awareness and responsibility. Fundamentally, this process makes others responsible for taking the actions they have identified for themselves. This is proven to be way more effective than merely trying (and ultimately forgetting) what they have been told to do by you or somebody else. A skilled coach will empower individuals to build confidence and capability in solving their own problems.

2. It promotes engagement across teams and organisations

Coaching can have a transformative effect on whole organisations. By facilitating teams to put in place their own solutions, people are more engaged and likely to stay on – because they have had a hand in the decisions that affect them. In turn, by adopting a culture of coaching, you are then free to step back and focus on more strategic activities. Ultimately, everyone achieves more through self-directed learning and self-discovery which in turn unlocks abilities and potential.

3. It can be used in a wide range of situations

The GROW framework can be used in conversations, video calls, meetings and everyday leadership and life – it’s not necessarily something you need to set aside a specific time, session, or location for.

Limitations of the GROW Coaching Model

A criticism of the GROW model is that approaches like GROW do not account for philosophical aspects. This means that while GROW might be suitable for goal-oriented fields such as business or sports, it is not suitable for life-coaching conversations. However, a counter-argument for this has been that GROW has, over the years evolved to include trans-personal goals. 

The GROW model, like any other model of its kind, isn’t free of limitations. Below are some of the limitations of the GROW model.

1. Goals need to be realistic: the coachee can end up having exaggerated goals that they might think are achievable, despite not being realistic. The limitation of the GROW model in terms of goal setting is that both the coach and coachee need to have realistic goals.

2. The coach might not be aware of ground realities: many organisations hire coaches for training sessions. If the coach is not aware of the ground realities, the GROW model might not be effective since the information received by them can be misleading.

3. Uninterested coachee: unless the coachee is motivated enough to participate during the coaching session, GROW will not be effective as a framework. Many employees who attend training and brainstorming sessions can lack attention, motivation and interest in what they are being taught. Hence, making the entire exercise useless.

4. Lack of will: as the final part of the GROW model is to establish the will to get things done, this can be a part which might be skipped by the coachee. This might particularly be on people who are uninterested and lack the will to act. Some might even do so in an organisation to maintain the status quo to keep a hold on organisational affairs by promoting inefficiency.

Final Words

Sir John Whitmore stated that ‘any dictator can use the GROW model’ because GROW by itself is not coaching. It is necessary to also develop a coaching mindset and authentic coaching behaviours in order to discover how powerful GROW can be. The most important of these is taking a ‘collaborative’ approach rather than a ‘command and control’ approach.

The GROW model is like a vehicle. It is the driver who needs to ensure that they can use it to its full potential to yield desired results. For GROW to be effective, both the coach and coachee need to show interest and resolve to find the best way forward to set goals, remove obstacles, address ground realities and find actionable solutions to achieve desired goals.

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