Help Your Team GROW With This Framework For Conversations

By People Leaders | People Leaders Podcast

The Grow Model People Leaders

As a manager or people leader, you have several conversations with team members each day. These will often have a coaching or advisory element to them. Some may even be about performance management. And some conversations may in the form of emails or written memos.

In any of these cases, using a model or framework for the conversation will help you cover all the bases and influence the outcome. Our favourite model for this is one that we learned almost 20 years ago when we trained for our coaching accreditation (yes, we got accredited when we were 8 years old :-).

The model in question is the GROW Model. The origin of the GROW Model is uncertain but we're grateful to whoever put it together. Not only is it simple but it's easy to make it a habit. We discussed it in this week's podcast and cover it in more detail below.

When should you use the GROW Model? Any time you engage in a conversation, spoken or written, that you want to be solution focused. Let's do this...

Listen to the podcast here or continue reading below. 

G = Goal

Start with the end in mind by asking yourself:

  • What's the purpose or goal of this conversation?
  • What do I want to get out of this conversation?
  • What would be the most valuable subject to focus on?
  • What would need to happen for me to walk away feeling that this time was well spent?

While it may seem simplistic, that's what makes it valuable. You may be doing this unconsciously (or consciously) already. The twist with the GROW Model though is that it's important to share the purpose of the conversation with the other party.

Among other things, this prevents the other party from being going into a defensive mode. Think how you would respond to - "I want to talk to you about X" - vs - "I want to discuss X so that we can find a long-term solution and avoid it coming up in the future."

The second statement is solution focused and takes the mystery out of the discussion. Both parties can engage on equal terms. and the conversation is off to a great start.

R = Reality

This is where the bulk of time is spent in the GROW Model.

What are the facts of the situation? Often we cloud conversations with emotive arguments, assumptions or historical factors that don't contribute to the solution.

The trouble with these is that they can lead to disagreement. While there's nothing wrong with disagreement as such, solutions are easier to find if disagreement isn't part of the equation.

To put it simply, facts keep the conversation clean.

So what do we mean by facts? "What has happened or is happening right here right now?" "What does the data show?" "What can you contribute to the discussion that couldn't be contested?"

  • What has been done so far?
  • What progress have you made to date?
  • What is working well right now?
  • What control do you have?
  • What effect does it have on your goals?
  • What has stopped you from doing anything more?
  • What other resources will you need?

These questions may or may not draw a conclusive answer. Where an answer is inconclusive, you could ask the other party to evaluate their response - "On a scale of 1 to 10, what do you think?" This gives you a qualitative basis to move on to the next step. Which is...


At this point you know the goal of the conversation and you've established the reality of the situation. So now it's time to explore the options to move forward (it's rare that that there will only be one option hence the use of the plural).

Questions to ask at this point:

  • What are your options?
  • What could you do right now?
  • What could you do differently?
  • What action can you take to move on this goal in the next 24 hours?
  • What are the pros and what are the cons?
  • What are the barriers?
  • What else and what next?
  • What has worked in the past?
  • What would XXX do?

Don't be afraid to think outside the box at this point. Put all options on the table before you go through the process of filtering any out.

NB - some versions of the GROW Model also include 'obstacles' along with options. As options exclude obstacles by definition, we prefer to stick with options.


As you'd expect, the wrap up includes settling on one of the options covered in the previous step. But there's more to it than that.

Deciding the option is one thing but, without commitment and action, the conversation goes to waste. The simple questions here are:

  • What next?
  • Who is doing what and by when?

As the manager, we encourage you to have your team members write the commitments down and share them with you. Experience tells us that this is much more effective than if you write down their commitments and share them. The act of documenting something makes it much more concrete than the act of reading something.

Have the other party send you their summary of the conversation as soon as possible after it is complete.


Don't let the simplicity of this framework fool you and don't underestimate its value. Put it into action and you'll see a big reduction in frustration and misunderstandings between you and your team.

To help you master the process we've created a one page GROW Model Cheat Sheet that you can download here. If you print the cheat sheet out, keep it on your desk for a month and refer to it each day you'll master the process in no time.

And of course, if you’d like to deepen your understanding of the GROW Model, remember to listen to the podcast episode above.

Let us know how you find the GROW Model in the comments below.

Help Your Team GROW With This Framework For Conversations. #workplacecommunication #communication #communicationproblems

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