Growing your own solutions

This week, I was invited to take a group of senior managers through a one hour ‘introduction to coaching’ session. An hour flies by and as every hour these managers are away from their desk is an hour they are not generating revenue, I wanted this hour to be valuable to them.

As I rooted through my mental toolkit of coaching tools to find something simple to explain yet useful, I kept coming back to GROW. It’s a straightforward model but offers a powerful structure for a coaching conversation. The name is an acronym standing for





Many people liken GROW to a map. Your team member knows where he wants to go: that’s his Goal. He knows where he is now – his Reality. There are alternative routes to the destination: those are his Options. He needs to narrow those down, consider the implications, make a decision and commit: this is the stage at which he establishes the Will to pursue his chosen route.

Using GROW in a client session

Mark’s goal was to have defined times outside normal office hours during which he was available for his direct reports based in other time zones. I asked him what the impact would be of achieving the goal. He answered that he would able to support his team without feeling like that support encroached on his life with his young family.

He described his reality to me. He was coming in to work early to speak to one group of people, working through lunch to speak to another who were just coming in to the office around that time and then taking calls and emails at home up until 10pm for a third group. Again, I asked him what the impact of this current reality was. He was feeling frustrated, tired, pulled in too many directions and ineffective.

Then we moved on to his options: several were on the table – here are just a few:

  1. Switch off the Blackberry outside office hours and only interact with his overseas colleagues via email during office hours
  2. Email his overseas colleagues to bring the issue to their attention and ask them to suggest mutually convenient times to speak
  3. Choose times to suit him and impose them on his colleagues

With each of the suggestions, we talked about the advantages or disadvantages of each option; what else Mark could do and what the possible impact might be.

Finally, we established his will to proceed. Mark decided to proceed with option 2 so we moved on to break it down into several steps; work out what might prevent his progress and how he’d overcome any obstacle and how this would achieve his goal. We agreed to monitor the situation over the following couple of sessions to check how it was working and whether anything needed tweaking.

Eighteen months later, Mark has stuck to his plan and reports that it’s working well for him. Handily for me, Mark was in my training session this week and was happy for us to work through his example as a demonstration of GROW.

Today’s pebble for your consideration: How will you apply GROW to an issue currently occupying your thoughts?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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