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The GROW model


Disciplines > Human Resources > Performance Management > The GROW model

Goal | Reality | Options | Will | See also


The GROW model is useful in performance management and coaching to help a person clarify what they want to achieve and how they will achieve it.


The first step is to establish and agree the goal. This answers the question 'What do I want to achieve?'

Goals, as described here, are also known as objectives, key results, targets, performance outcomes, and a host of other euphemisms. The bottom line can be define in defining success as the 'delivery of value to someone'. Value happens when that someone makes use of what you deliver to them.

In establishing goals, ensure they are SMART. Ask questions such as:

  • Who is it for? Who are your end customers?
  • What do they really want? What is the benefit for them? What would make them happy?
  • What do you need to deliver so they get what they want?

Also include considerations of time, cost and quality as appropriate.

  • When do they want it? How long might it take to deliver? Is this feasible?
  • How much would they be prepared to pay? What would be competitive pricing? Is this feasible?
  • What will look for when you deliver it? What would make them unhappy? What would delight them?

Goals are not always about delivering things to other people. For example you could be your own customer in delivering some personal improvement. Goals can also be about getting other people to do something. Whatever it is, develop a goal description by which you can clearly tell when the goal has been achieved.


The next stage is to examine the current reality. If the goal statement tells where you want to go, then the reality check describes the starting position. The gap between these two then constitutes the work that is to be done.

It is a trap to think that the work is relatively easy, and that you are closer to the goal than you think. It is also trap to think that it is too far away and out of sight.

Get a clear description of the current reality, including as appropriate relationships, attitudes, skills, processes, available tools and so on. In understanding reality you may also find resources and tools that you had not thought of as being potentially helpful.

Questions to ask include:

  • How busy are you?
  • What is the current situation like?
  • Who is involved? What are they like?
  • What's working and not working?
  • What keeps you awake at night?
  • How easy is it to get things done?


When you know where you want to go (goals) and where you are (reality), then the third stage is to consider possibilities about ways of getting from one to the other.

A common approach is to look for the 'one right way'. In reality, there are often many different ways to get to where you want to go, and a creative 'options' approach can come up with some very useful ideas.

Options start with strategic big-picture overall approaches and then descend into the tactical and operational detail. Comparing options should start at the high level in order to save time. The final few options may be considered in greater detail.

The time, cost and risks of each option may be compared when choosing the main option to follow. Other options may still be kept in the back pocket in case the main option becomes troublesome.

Some of the questions you can ask include:

  • How could you go about doing this?
  • How else could you go about doing it?
  • What could go wrong with that approach?
  • How long would it take?
  • What resource and expenditure would be needed?
  • What are the risks in each option?
  • What criteria will you use to select the main option?

The output of this stage is a plan, or at least the bones of one that will be developed later.


Finally, now that you have a plan of how to get from reality to goals, the big question if everyone involved has the energy and motivation for the journey.

Questions that can help include:

  • Are you ready for this? Does it light your fire?
  • Is there anything stopping you from committing whole-heartedly to this?
  • Who else needs to buy in to it?
  • What needs to happen to enthuse people?
  • What rewards for completion would help?

See also

Setting goals, SMART Objectives, Questioning techniques

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