Growing Your Team

“Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance.” (John Whitmore Coaching for Performance.)


Before heading off for the Christmas break, most of us would have gone through the end of year appraisal process.  How did it go? If your team member was surprised by your feedback, then you can take that as a sign that you have not been giving sufficient ongoing feedback and coaching throughout the year. In their highly acclaimed First Break all the rules , Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman are clear that great managers do not wait to the end of year appraisal to give performance feedback and coaching – they do it regularly throughout the year; and yet, research announced just two weeks ago by Silkroad indicates that 45% of managers lack basic coaching and developing skills.

If you fall within this statistic, you need to urgently do something about it because there are three seismic shifts taking place right now that are going to require managers to do more ongoing coaching in the future:

1. There is a new generation gaining influence in the workplace; by 2020, over half of the workforce will be made up of millennials, a generation that demands ongoing training, development and coaching and will leave the organisation if they don´t get it (background)

2. There is momentum building to ditch the end of year appraisal in favour of ongoing coaching and development (background). 38% of all companies have already shelved end of year reviews (background)

3. There is a shift toward an ever engaging/holocratic workplace where hierarchal status and power is being challenged and redefined (background)

Of course, there are managers who simply lack the momentum/will to coach. Often these mangers (who complain they don´t have time to coach) give coaching and development a low priority in their to-do lists; it’s a pity because as this HBR article hints, they are missing out on a great opportunity. Others who have the will may lack basic skills in coaching and developing, often focusing on task list and process rather than one-to-one behavioural coaching. With this in mind, here is my seasonal gift to you… a simple yet effective behavioural coaching model that has been an established tool for over thirty years despite jumping in and out of fashion and favour.

The GROW Model…
Attributed to several sources including the former racing driver Sir John Whitmore, Graham Alexander and Alan Fine, the GROW coaching model is an acronym for four stages that any good coaching conversation should have:


Let´s briefly examine each stage (the entire process should take no more than an hour).

G is for Goal (“What do you want?”)
(5 mins)
In any coaching conversation, it is important for the coachee to have a desired outcome. The coach can help the coachee prioritise the goal by asking clarificatory questions, but the goal must come and be owned by the coachee. Some coachees are very clear about a desired outcome, others will need prompting.

R is for Reality (“Where are you now?”)
(10 mins)
Having established the goal (or desired state), it is important for the coachee to reflect on their current reality – why is this goal important to them, how much work have they already done on this goal, how much still needs to be done (identifying the gap). This is a good opportunity for the coach to discover more context surrounding the goal and to establish with the coachee how stretching the goal is.

O is for Options (“What could you do?”)
(40 mins)
The bulk of the discussion should be spent in this ideation stage. The role of the coach here is to inquire through open questions the different approaches that can be taken by the coachee to advance toward goal. The ideas and options should originate from the coachee. The role of the coach here is not to “fix the problem”, it is to help the coachee to come up with their own set of solutions. As David B. Peterson and Mary Dee Hicks remark in one of the most compact books on coaching, Leader as Coach: Strategies for Coaching and Developing Others,“Coaches don’t develop people – they equip people to develop themselves.”

W is for Way Forward (“What will you do?”)
(5 mins)
Some models refer to this as will or wrap up, essentially this stage is about the coachee compiling a clear set of priorities and actions that have emerged in the optioning phase. The coach’s role here is to ensure the way forward will deliver the goal and to press for SMART (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-based) actions. Enablers and blockers to achieving the goal should be identified and a clear plan formulated. The coach should not have any actions – remember the coach is not a fixer.

Click here for a great short video of the GROW model in action.

The performance of your team reflects on you as the line-manager. Don’t wait until the one-off end of year appraisal to develop them. Investing some structured ongoing coaching time in 2016 to professionally develop your team members should be an essential part of your overall performance management strategy and will help you better understand, appreciate, motivate and GROW your team.

by Ric Kelly PhD