I love helping the students and managers I coach discover their own brilliance. Sometimes we are passionate about improving, but lacking the plan to make it happen. When we are excited about the way forward, something inside us compels us to execute. However, if we do not fully embrace the plan, or if the idea for improvement comes from someone else, we often lose enthusiasm before we reaching peak performance.
The most effective tool I have found to help people get from where they are to where they want to be is what author and executive coach Alan Fine calls the GROW coaching technique. It is an inside-out approach to creating a plan of action by pulling the ideas from within the mind of the mentee. Within each of us there is a hidden genius that will allow us to accomplish just about anything. In less than 20 minutes, I’ve helped countless people create and unreservedly execute a plan that was simple, effective, and, perhaps most importantly, their own. Here’s how GROW works.
The G stands for Goal. Simply define the focus, topic of discussion, or area of improvement. You’ll want to make sure their goal is S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Based). For example, a goal of gaining 30 lbs of muscle in a month is not very realistic, at least not without some really fantastic drugs. Even though it meets the other criteria it falls short of being S.M.A.R.T. You don’t want to set S.M.A.T goals. On the other hand, a goal to gain 10 lbs. of muscle one year from today is realistic. It’s S.M.A.R.T.
Another example might be to improve in one area of your business (i.e. efficiency, productivity, etc). Make sure it’s S.M.A.R.T. and not just S.M.A.R. I see a lot of people forget to include the time frame (when they want to accomplish their objective). No body likes a S.M.A.R aleck.
A great follow up question, once you have the Goal in mind is what does it mean to not accomplish it? Sometimes, the consequences of missing the mark can be a great motivator.
Next we move on to Reality. You’ll want to assess the reality of where they are. This is simple and will save you a lot of time. What have you tried so far?
There is nothing that drives me crazier then when I offer up the perfect solution and the person replies with, “Yeah, I already tried that”. Uh…yeah…ok.
You’ll have a chance to impress them with your brilliant idea soon, but remember this is about helping them discover their genius, not yours. First we have to pull out everything they have already tried so we don’t waste time rehashing things they don’t believe will work anyway. Find out what they have done to make improvements and what happened as a result.
What are the Options? This is the fun part. You want them to describe to you any and all options to achieve their goal. You’ll want to write down every idea they come up with. Your mission as the listener is to make a list of 6-10 viable options. Ask, ‘If you could do anything, what would you do? What would _________ (someone they respect) recommend? What would you recommend if someone else asked for your advice? What else could you try?
If you have a great idea to suggest, first ask permission to suggest it. ‘Would you like me to make a suggestion?’
Once you have a list of options read them out loud and ask, ‘which two or three of these options would you be most excited to try? How would you go about it?’
Finally, the Way Forward. This is where you read back the two or three options they choose to explore further and figure out when they will execute. Have them put it in their calendar. Also, ask what might hold them back or prevent their idea from being accomplished. Find out how they will overcome setbacks. I always ask if they’d like me to hold them accountable, and if so, how. They usually say yes and I have found a follow up call in one week to see how they are progressing to be effective. Sometimes however, emails or texts are preferred.
While the entire conversation can be accomplished in less than 20 minutes over coffee or on a phone call, the follow up is the key to success. If they know there is another phone call coming to measure progress, they are more likely to stick with their plan. And that’s the real beauty of GROW coaching. It is after all, their plan.
by John Wasserman
Proceeds benefit Children's Dyslexia Centers