GROW Model Questions: 60 Questions To Enable Employee Growth

coach running through GROW model questions

At its core, coaching is a conversation between manager and employee. Sometimes, though, managers need a hand navigating the conversation and producing fruitful results. Luckily, the GROW model was created to be that guide. 

Here’s what you need to know about the GROW model, and 60 GROW model question examples you can use in your next coaching session.

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Coaching Helps Employees GROW

Coaching is one of the most effective learning and development tools a company can use to bolster its performance and employee satisfaction. 

Over 70% of employees who’ve received coaching came out of their experience with improved work performance, better communication skills, improved relationships, and increased self-esteem.

Let’s not forget about the impressive ROI for companies, too — the median return on coaching is 700%, which means a company can expect a return of seven times their coaching investment.

What Is The GROW Model?

The GROW model was created in the 1980s by business coach Sir John Whitmore, along with Graham Alexander and Alan Fine. Today, it’s the most common coaching method used by managers, executives, and industry leaders, including Google

What Does GROW Stand For?

GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Will. Each of these words represents a step in the coaching process. Managers typically use the GROW framework to help employees improve their work performance, solve a problem, identify and learn a new skill, or help them set and achieve a goal. 

What Are The Benefits Of The GROW Model?

While the framework is highly beneficial to employees, it’s also a great leadership tool. It helps managers and leaders improve their coaching abilities and develop better coaching mindsets and behaviors by following a well-defined process.

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The Four Steps To GROW

The GROW model includes four steps that the coach/manager leading the session should follow:

GROWDefined
GoalIdentify the employee’s goal.
RealityEstablishing present conditions.
OptionsDetermining what can be done.
WillHow an employee can move forward.

Let’s take a closer look at each step:

Step 1: Goal

The objective for step one is to determine the employee’s short and long-term goals.

First, you need to establish rapport with the employee. Get to know them and ease into the discussion slowly, only diving into goal-setting once they’re comfortable.

You’ll want to establish two goals: One goal for the session (What is the purpose of this session?) and one for the long-term (What’s the larger goal/obstacle they want to address?).

Without a session goal, your conversation can get off track, go over time, or not lead to a clear action plan. The long-term goal you set with the employee could be related to their performance, skills, decision-making capabilities, or an obstacle they want to overcome.

Use the SMART system to help the employee set their goal: It should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Step 2: Reality

The objective for step two is to evaluate and confirm their current situation.

This step of the process is a fact-finding mission focused on evaluating the employee’s current situation and the severity of the problems they’re facing. It also helps provide context to the situation and can bring to light any issues that the employee or coach wasn’t aware of previously.

Sometimes feelings and personal biases can obstruct the reality of a situation, clouding the employee’s judgment or rendering them unable to see a way out. This step is crucial to clearing the fog and grounding the employee in reality, increasing their motivation, and ensuring peace of mind that they have the support they need to reach their set goal.

Use the four W’s to establish reality: What is the goal/problem? Where is it occurring? When is it happening? Who is involved?

Don’t include “Why” questions because that can encourage opinions rather than factual information.

Step 3: Options

The objective for step three is to identify different options the employee has to reach their goal and select the route with the highest potential for success.

At this point, the process turns into a more collaborative experience, where the coach and employee brainstorm different options for the employee together.

To encourage discussion, the coach should use open-ended questions, discuss the pros and cons of each option, and allow for ideas to flow freely. Once a comprehensive list has been established, the coach and employee should work together to narrow in on the final choice.

The chosen option should be the one that’s most effective and realistic and the one the employee is most likely to complete.

Step 4: Will

The objective for step four is to identify the specific actions the employee will take to achieve their goal. This step is also referred to as Wrap Up or Way Forward.

Now that the coach and the employee have successfully defined the goal and the route to achieving it, it’s time to get practical. Identify and discuss the exact steps they need to take, who needs to be involved, how their success will be measured, and what support or resources they’ll need along the way.

Remember: When an employee has a clear and actionable plan set out for them, it increases their buy-in and commitment.

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60 Examples Of GROW Model Questions

At each step of the process — Goal, Reality, Options, Will — the coach will ask the employee a set of related GROW model questions. These questions help them gather the insights they need from the employee and develop an action plan to achieve their goal or overcome an obstacle.

Here are some examples of helpful GROW model questions to use in your next session:

Goal Questions

  • How have you been?
  • What has improved or worsened since your last coaching session?
  • What would you like to discuss?
  • What is your number one goal for this session?
  • Why do you want to achieve it?
  • What are the benefits of achieving it?
  • How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal?
  • Is the goal realistic?
  • Do you have enough time and resources to achieve your goal?
  • What do you want to change the most?
  • What’s your ideal outcome for this situation?
  • What will happen if you don’t achieve your goal?
  • What’s the most helpful takeaway you could gain from this session?
  • How do you think I can help?

Reality Questions

  • What is your current situation (AKA what brought you here)?
  • Can you provide examples?
  • Who is involved?
  • How does this impact you and your work?
  • How important is it to you?
  • How urgent is the situation on a scale of one to ten?
  • What obstacles are stopping you?
  • How often do you face your obstacles?
  • What have you tried to do to fix it?
  • What is the perception of other people involved?
  • How are you currently being supported in your role?
  • What behaviors, attitudes, or skills can you improve to help your situation?
  • Describe your typical day in relation to your goal/obstacle.
  • How close or far are you from achieving your goal/overcoming your obstacle?
  • What is your intuition telling you?
  • What would happen if you didn’t meet your goal or overcome your obstacle?

Options Questions

  • What can you do to solve it?
  • What has worked in the past?
  • What hasn’t worked in the past?
  • What are some alternatives?
  • Would you like a suggestion?
  • What are the pros and cons of each option?
  • Who can help you in that scenario?
  • Do you have sufficient time and resources to achieve your goal?
  • If time or resources were no issue, how would you achieve your goal?
  • What obstacles might you face if you chose that option?
  • What resources do you need to achieve your goal?
  • Who do you need support from to achieve your goal?
  • What might get you off-track, and how will you correct yourself?

Will Questions

  • On a scale of one to ten, how motivated are you to achieve your goal?
  • How can you increase your motivation level?
  • What can I or leadership do to help you achieve your goal?
  • Explain the next steps to me.
  • What actions do you need to take?
  • What actions do you want to take the most?
  • What actions are you least excited to take?
  • How will we measure success?
  • What will happen once you achieve your goal?
  • What will your first step be?
  • How long will it take to achieve your goal?
  • How will you stay committed?
  • Who will hold you accountable?
  • How will you log or report your progress, and to whom?
  • What would make the experience more enjoyable for you?
  • How do you feel about your goal/obstacle now?
  • When should we touch base again?

HR Best Practice: Coaching With The GROW Model

One of the most important things to remember when applying the GROW model is that it must be a collaborative experience. Whether you’re coaching employees one-on-one or in a group setting, there needs to be a sense of partnership between the coach/manager and the employee(s).

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Put The GROW Model Into Practice

Save the GROW model questions outlined above, customize them to your company’s needs. Following that, share the documentation with the managers and coaches on your team.

Then, with the right application and support, watch as this framework improves leadership’s coaching abilities, boosts employee performance, and gets your team on track to achieving their goals.

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