The GROW method of coaching or how to achieve your goals in 4 steps

23/02/2024 | Santander Universidades

Are you the type who, for one reason or another, tends to throw in the towel halfway through the fight? If so, now is the time to harness the GROW method of coaching in your life. This simple and effective tool will help you to achieve your aims, whatever they may be. 

It boils down to this: uncertainty about what you really seek to achieve, unsuitable planning of the steps to follow, and losing focus on the final reward all make it more difficult to fulfil expectations. In fact, according to research by the University of Pennsylvania Scranton, only 8% of people achieve their set goals, while the remaining 92% fail. 

Consider, however, the importance of this skill, not only in terms of continuous improvement, but of basic performance too. A person with no idea how to achieve goals can't effectively address their responsibilities. Never mind getting ahead in their chosen career. To avoid getting stuck in a rut, find out how to apply the GROW methodology.

What is GROW methodology?

GROW methodology was devised in the 1980s by John Whitmore, a renowned author in the field of coaching. In fact, it was first mentioned back in 1988, in his book Coaching for Performance. His goal was to identify an effective framework for the development of individual and organisational coaching processes. The result of his work was this structured approach, with the acronym standing for:

  • Goal

  • Reality

  • Options

  • Will

However, the GROW method of coaching offers a systematic approach to problem solving and the achievement of goals. As such, its use has expanded into a variety of contexts, thanks to its simplicity and effectiveness. Nowadays, it is just as likely to be applied to areas of our personal lives as to business management. 

GROW method of coaching

When to use the GROW method of coaching 

Envisage a professional seeking to improve their leadership skills. They can use GROW methodology to set specific objectives and outline an action plan to become a better leader. Or consider a sales manager who needs to set annual objectives for their department and explore the strategic options that their team will carry out to achieve the forecast results. Human Resources, Marketing, Logistics... Any field can benefit from using this methodology.  

And what about the applications of GROW methodology in the personal sphere? It comes in very handy to achieve whatever goals you might set for yourself. Want to lose weight or stop smoking? Maybe you'd like to improve your sports performance? What about boosting your employability? Do you think there are certain social skills you could improve? No matter what goal you set yourself, the possibilities are endless.

GROW method of coaching

What is GROW methodology for?

In fact, the GROW method of coaching owes its popularity to the numerous advantages it offers those who incorporate it into their professional life. So what are the benefits? 

  • Clear objectives. It allows you to define goals in a precise and personalised way.

  • Understanding reality. Using this tool, you can evaluate your present situation to make more informed decisions.

  • Wide range of options. Proper development will give you different creative solutions to achieve the set goals.

  • Commitment and willingness. This is a great system for maintaining motivation and a sense of responsibility throughout the whole process of achieving goals.

  • Improved communications. Another advantage of the GROW method is that it facilitates interactions within both personal and professional spheres.

  • Optimisation of time. Likewise, the GROW method of coaching makes an efficient approach to problem solving.

  • Comprehensive development. This methodology isn't limited to a specific field; on the contrary, it can be applied to personal and professional growth.

How many stages are there in the GROW model?

To access these benefits, the methodology is simple. Just follow the four stages outlined in the acronym itself. But what does each stage consist of? 

  • Goal: the first step is to establish the goal, in other words, clearly define what you want to achieve. At this point, you will find it useful to use the SMART model for support. 

  • Reality: once you know where you want to go, it's time to objectively analyse what your starting point is. You might want to conduct a SWOT analysis to assess your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Options: the third stage consists of outlining the road between the two first points. It's all about identifying any potential solutions to achieve the goals using creative, convergent thinking. 

  • Will: lastly, pick the most suitable ones from the various options you identify, and forge an action plan. It's important to also follow up on this using agile methodologies.  

How to apply the GROW method of coaching (example)

When implementing GROW methodology, a set of questions can be used as a way to approach each of the phases. For example, if you’re aiming to get promoted, which questions do you need to address at each stage? 

  • Objectives

    • What specific objectives would you like to achieve?

    • What is the ultimate goal you are looking to achieve?

    • How do you define success in relation to this goal?

Example: You've just been hired by a company as a salesperson, but you would like to take on greater responsibility within the team, and aim in the long term to manage the entire Sales Department, integrating technology and Artificial Intelligence as part of the strategy. 

  • Reality

    • Where do you stand currently in relation to your goal?

    • What are your strengths and areas for improvement?

    • What obstacles or challenges are you facing?

Example: You have an entry-level job in the department and to reach your final goal, there are five levels of hierarchy. However, you are highly ambitious and have a long career ahead of you, which also gives you some time to specialise in AI applied to sales. Of course, you'll need to come up with the financial resources and time to access specific training. 

  • Options:

    • What alternatives or approaches might you consider?

    • What are the possible solutions?

    • What resources or support can you use?

Example: One option is to simply devote yourself to doing your job well and achieving the approval of your superiors, in the hope of being promoted based on these merits. Another is to resign from your job to continue to specialise, before returning to the company in a position related to technological development in Sales. You might also consider signing up for a training programme for working professionals and completing this on your weekends. 

  • Will:

    • What is your specific action plan?

    • When and how will you implement your decisions?

    • How can you stay focused and engaged?

Example: Finally, you decide to combine studies and work. However, you decide to wait for a year, to acquire more experience and knowledge in the workplace. Moreover, this will allow you to save, compare study options and check what grants and funding are available. Following this time, you will sign up for the training course and approach your bosses about your interest in securing a position in line with your specialism. 


As you can see, the GROW method of coaching offers greater clarity of your objectives, allowing you to better understand the skills and resources available, explore various strategies and take concrete measures to achieve whatever goals you've set for yourself. In short, this is a key tool for personal and professional growth.

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