How to Have Effective Performance Conversations with Your Team Using the GROW Model

Maxine Attong
June 5, 2024

The GROW Model

Leaders are charged with a myriad of responsibilities, the most challenging of which is managing team members’ performance.

Other than performance, the leader’s remit includes helping team members to make better decisions, to solve problems that are holding them back, to learn new skills, and to progress their careers.

Leaders are tasked with having performance conversations with team members throughout the year. Some dread the conversation, others find it tedious and some excel at it.

I have coached hundreds of professionals from the energy sector and in the World Food Program(WFP) to use the GROW model to have the performance conversation with ease.

This model is often described as a tool for Coaching and Mentoring.

My reframe is that the GROW model positions the leader to act as Coach and Mentor. From this frame the leader can use the tool in a myriad of ways - performance management, having difficult conversations and planning of work.

As a coach, the leader is asked to include the team member in making and committing to decisions around performance and most important in forging a way ahead.

The acronym GROW stand for

  • Goal
    • Decide where you are going.
    • Establish a SMART Goal
  • Reality (Current)
    • Examine the Current Reality
    • Raise awareness of where you are now
    • Ensure all parties agree on the Reality
  • Options or Obstacles
    • Explore the options to move forward
    • Examine the obstacles or drawback of each option
  • Will or Way Forward
    • Commit to actions that will assist in goal achievement

The leader is in an active listening role and for each step the leader poses open ended questions for the team member.

1. Goals

Start with the end in mind. At the end of the conversation, what do you want?

Steps to do this

  • Identify the behaviour that you want to change. The manager can lead the conversation or ask the team member, “What needs to change?”
  • Develop a SMART goal for the change. The goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. When doing this, it's useful to ask questions like:
    • a) How will team member know that the goal is achieved?
    • b) How will you know that the problem or issue is solved?
    • c) How does this goal fit with the overall career objectives?
    • d) How does it fit with the team's objectives?

For example: A team member may have poor timekeeping.

Goal: To get to work on time daily

2. Examine the Current Reality

This is an important data gathering step that ensures that both leader and team member are aware of the current reality. The leader gets an insight into the team member’s perspective and very often leaders realise that their observations may be a symptom of another issue.

Without understanding the current reality the wrong decision may be made. The leader is asked to be curious and interested, to be quiet and to actively listen. This may be the longest and most important part of the conversations.

As team members speak about their current reality, the solution may start to emerge. Useful questions in this step include the following:

  • What is happening now (what, who, when, and how often)?
  • What is the effect or result of this?
  • What is the effect on yourself / your team?
  • What steps have you already taken towards your goal?
  • What is keeping you back from getting to your goal?
  • Does this goal conflict with any other goals or objectives?

The leader can paraphrase what has been said and ask other What and How questions to gain more information.

Example: After the discussion the leader understands that the team member’s current reality is that he transports children to different schools which is a time constraint.

3. Explore the Options

After exploring the current reality, it's time to determine all of the possible options for reaching the stated goal. This isa step that is often overlooked and rushed through, when in reality it does not take long to be done.

This is a brainstorming step which will dissuade leaders of the tendency to tell the team member what to do. I recommend that the team member puts forward suggestions first then the leader can join in. This is a good time for leaders to practice patience

Team members are equipped to choose the best option through the exploration of the possible options and the challenges for each. The leader can guide by stating the disadvantages of the various options.  The steps are

  1. the team member to brainstorm all possible options to meet the goals
  2. suggestions after the team member has offered some,
  3. each option examines the challenges with implementing
  4. team member to choose the best option

Typical questions that you can use to explore options:

  • What can you do to achieve the goal?
  • What else could you do?
  • What if this or that constraint was removed? Would that change things?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • What factors or considerations will you use to weigh the options?
  • What do you need to stop doing in order to achieve this goal?
  • What obstacles stand in your way?

Example: the options may be hire a driver or leave home earlier. The pros and cons of each are worked out. The team member decides to hire a driver.

4. Establish the Will

During this step the team member will commit to taking action. Again, leaders need to exercise restraint and not give the answer. When team members determine the action, this leads to buy-in and commitment. This will help establish will and boost motivation.

Useful questions to ask here include:

  • What will you do now, and when? What else will you do?
  • What could stop you moving forward? How will you overcome this?
  • How can you keep yourself motivated?
  • What help do you need to move forward?
  • What can I say to you when you are stuck?
  • When do you need to review progress? Daily, weekly, monthly?

Deciding on a date to review progress promotes accountability. The check in point also allows the team member to fail fast and change the approach if the original plan isn't working.

Example: Team member decides to hire the driver at month end. Leader and team member agree to meet in 2 months’ time to review progress or to make any tweaks to the plan.

Experiment with the GROW model with your team members.

Let me know what you have used the model for and how you have applied it.  Share your success stories or your questions.

Share this post
Maxine Attong
Maxine Attong

Become a sponsor

Fill out this form to receive full details of our packages

SUCCESS! You're registered.
We look forward to connecting with you.
Event details will be sent to the email address you provided.

Live. Learn. Love
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

The Gestalt Leadership Community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.