Giving feedback with GROW

Giving feedback is not as easy, as it seems. For anyone who work with a group of people ability of giving feedback, which will yield an expected result rather than be taken as an offence, may be crucial.

Recently I came across an inspiring article about using GROW model as a way of giving feedback. Personally I value and believe in open and constant feedback loop as a tool for self development, so possibility of using GROW model in a feedback session sounds particularly appealing to me.

GROW model may be used in coaching to help someone to figure out how to achieve an important goal, in a way, that suits most of their believes and values.

GROW is an acronym formed from:

  • Goal -> What do you want
  • Reality -> What is happening right now
  • Options -> What could you do
  • Will -> What will you do

We can use this model during the coaching session built around the four parts mentioned above. Your task, as a facilitator of this talk, would be to ask questions and actively listen to your interlocutor, and help them to achieve their goals.


The Goal part of the session serves two purpose. The first one is to clarify what your interlocutor would like to achieve during the session, and the second one, to create a frame for the whole talk and questions, which you need to ask. To set up the scene an experienced coach would start with Goal focused questions like:

  • What would you like to achieve thanks to our talk?
  • What are your expectations?
  • What should you gain during this talk to call it useful?
  • Are there any questions that need to be answered?

The Goal section of GROW should be addressed at the beginning of each session, and referred to again occasionally to keep the focus moving forward.


Reality part of the session is about an exploration of your coachee world at the moment. Asking questions should help with clarifying their insight on the actual situation. It provides an opportunity for viewing issues from different perspectives.
During this part of the session you may ask questions like:

  • How does the situation look like from your perspective?
  • How would you see a conflict if you were on the other side of it?
  • How important is this to you?
  • What have you noticed about your behaviour?
  • What do you think about what you’ve just done?
  • If you were on the other side of a conflict what would you think about your own actions?

Reality questions help with gaining some new perspectives and clarifying insight on the situation. They could also calm the emotions and shift the focus on what have really happened.


During this part of the session you may start to ask feedback focused questions like:

  • What do you know now, that you did not know before?
  • What have you noticed about your behaviour?
  • How do you feel with what you’ve done ?
  • What have you learned about yourself from that?
  • If similar situation happened, how would you want to react?

In this part you may refer to he Goal part of the session to make sure that the goal is achieved.

  • Do you remember the goal that you’ve set up and the questions which needed to be answered?
  • Have you found your answers already?
  • What would they be?
  • What questions have we left without the an answer?
  • What steps could you take to find the answers or achieve your goal?
  • Who can help you with this?
  • Where could you find out the information?


The next part is very important, as it helps the individual to came up with the decisions about the future, which may help them to achieve a success next time. In that part Your interlocutor commits on what they have an influence to do over and what they can really change.

Some of Will questions might be:

  • What will you do to achieve your goal?
  • How will you do that?
  • What will you do to not lose your motivation?
  • What could you do to become more committed?
  • When will you do it?
  • Do you have any acceptance criteria? How will you identify that you have reached your goal?

The most natural path of the conversation would be to start with the questionWhat has happened?” .This would help your interlocutor to clear their emotions first. After this part both of you and the other party would gain the an insight on the situation from their point of view and on their emotions. When the latter are calmed to sufficient levels it is easier for the coached person to concentrate on the session and on setting up a Goal, or considering the insight of the other side of the conflict. The Reality and Options parts of the session may be used in different order or merged together, as it is easier to consider one aspect of the conflict at a time after another as a whole, than to listing everything at first and then analyse it. More natural would be to ask Reality and Options questions together; “What is the situation? How would you like it to be?”. In this part you achieve your goal ,which is to make your interlocutor to come up with the feedback you have intended to give them. However, you shouldn’t stop with this. You also need to do the Will part of the model, which would help most people to commit on what they would do, in order to succeed in the future.


More about GROW model and ways of giving feedback