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October 10, 2018

The GROW Model

Every year, I set a theme. I choose one word to keep top of mind as I navigate decisions and relationships.

In 2016, my theme was Change.

In 2017, it was Home.

And for 2018, it has been Growth.

Picking a theme is like shopping for a car

Once you decide which one you want, you see it everywhere. As soon as I started thinking about growth, I began to hear how often and how widely the word is used. So I decided to define a couple of subcategories to help clarify what it meant to me.

I knew I wanted to work on my physical health, increase my savings, learn more about the inner-workings of the education sector, and deepen my understanding of how I’m wired. In other words, growth for me meant: physical, financial, intellectual, and emotional growth.

With those things in mind, I’ve made 1,000 tiny decisions that might impact those areas, from instilling simple workout regimens, to reading dozens of books, to regular meetings with a coach/counselor.

Helping others grow

Over the summer, my little theme expanded to include how to help others grow. One of my colleagues and advisors, Melissa Quinn, is also a partner in a learning and development company based in Toronto. Their organization, Performance Coaching, helps Olympic athletes perform at their best, but they also lead trainings for executives and teams. We’ve been collaborating with PCI over the past year on a number of new initiatives.

In the Spring, Melissa offered to coach me through part of this year. I quickly agreed and we got to work. A portion of our time together included me going to one of PCI’s trainings. So I hopped on a flight to Toronto and tagged along with a generous company who had hired PCI and offered to let me sit in the back and learn.

The entire two days were focused on how to have a “developmental bias” with the people we work with – shifting from managing teams of individual workers to coaching teams of amazing players. They used a series frameworks throughout the two days, but a few things stuck out. One was a simple way to think about what leads to performance:

  1. Clarity: Helping people grow requires hyper clear goals with specific timelines.
  2. Competency: Helping people grow requires making sure your team has the resources, tools, and know-how to actually grow.
  3. Recognition: As people reach their goals, celebrating the progress affirms their growth and inspires ongoing action.

That simple starting point became the base for the entire time together.

But how do you help your team set and stick to specific goals?

In the 80’s and 90’s a model emerged for corporate coaching called the GROW model. Created by Sir John Whitmore, a prominent thinker in leadership development and organizational change, it's one of the most established and successful coaching models to date. I hadn’t heard of it, but it’s a simple, helpful process for thinking through growth on a personal or professional level. Here’s how it works.

  • Goal: Where do you hope to be in 4-6 weeks? Not only what project/tasks do you want to complete, but how do you hope to be more developed as a person?
  • Reality: What is happening now? How far are you from your goal?
  • Obstacles & Options: What are the challenges that have kept you from achieving the goal? What new ones might emerge? And what are possible ways through those obstacles?
  • Will: Once the options for moving forward are on the table, what specific steps will you take next? What can begin to happen this week? Next week? etc.

As with any framework, GROW is only as helpful as the energy you put into working with it. So once I learned it, I turned these questions into a new way of managing the Ei team.

Pausing a busy team

Starting at the beginning of June, I sat down with each person on Ei’s team for 30 minutes to walk through these questions. Because we have Leap Kit at the core of our work, the process felt familiar. But it also felt new enough to refresh our perspective on our own growth and development. Within six weeks of that first meeting, we’d each hit our goal and celebrated each person’s growth.

So, later in July, we did the entire process again. And by early September, everyone had reached their goals yet again. Now, it’s becoming part of our calendar to set new goals, create checkpoints, and celebrate at the end of each cycle.

How about you?

What do you do to help yourself and/or your team grow? When’s the last time you sat with a teammate to discuss not only the projects you hope to complete, but the skills and mindsets you hope to develop?

If it’s been a while, don’t let too much more time pass. Even if your theme for this year isn’t growth, it’s a great way to think about the final months of 2018.

Try answering the questions for yourself and let me know how it goes!

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