New Manager Training: Using the GROW Model for Employee Coaching

Oct 6, 2021

Being a manager is much more complicated than tasking team members with projects and conducting performance reviews. In order to create space in which employees can develop their current skills and learn new ones, managers need to be coaches, mentors, and cheerleaders. Hand holding, however, only creates teams that lack independence. Managers should instead help their teams achieve self-sufficiency. Through personal development coaching, managers can help today’s workforce grow into tomorrow’s leaders.

One of a manager’s most important responsibilities is to coach employees to be their best. The GROW model, which is based on the premise that the manager is a facilitator but not an expert, is one of the most effective tools for achieving this goal. When used in employee coaching, this model can help employees make better decisions, learn new skills, solve problems, and advance their careers.

The GROW model has four main stages:

Goals (What do you want?)

Managers need to understand their employees and what they want so that the employees leave the coaching sessions with clear deliverables. Using the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-limited) rubric can help a manager determine an employee’s goals, along with asking questions such as “Where do you see yourself in the next three to five years?” and “What are your personal and professional goals?”

Reality (What’s happening?)

It’s important for a manager to coach employees in the present: identified problems should be addressed immediately, while they’re happening — not during the next performance review. Frequent coaching meetings make it easier to spot and deal with problems as soon as they arise. During these meeting, managers should ask their employees questions such as “Why do you think you have not yet achieved your goals?” and “What steps have you taken so far toward achieving your goals?”

Options (What might you do?)

During this brainstorming stage, a manager should work with employees to generate some ideas for the employees’ development, along with ideas for how the manager can support that development. Important questions to ask here are “What are your options for achieving your goal?” and “What might be the best first step toward achieving your goal?”

What’s next (What will you do?)

It’s crucial that team members define actionable items for each phase of their development. The manager’s job is to allow them to set reachable goals, to understand what might be hindering them, and (when reasonable) to remove obstacles in their way. Questions to consider at this stage include “How will you keep yourself motivated to achieve your goal?” and “What two or action actions can you take in the next week/month/quarter toward achieving your goal?

The GROW model gives managers and employees a useful tool for increasing employee productivity, innovation, engagement, and job satisfaction. Through good coaching, a manager can help employees define and achieve their goals and contribute even more to the organization’s success.

Written by: Jessica Miller-Merrell

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