Conversation Models for Coaches
In a coaching relationship it is generally the coachees job to decide on the agenda for a coaching interaction. The coach’s role is to take that agenda and manage the conversation so the client arrives (at some point) at their desired destination. The coach asks questions that help the client go deeper, think new thoughts and develop solutions, all the while helping steer where the conversation is going, how much time remains and what conversational threads need closure. A key challenge for new coaches is learning to be mindful of these broader issues while still actively listening to the person they are coaching. For new coaches just starting out this can be quite a challenge, because most of us our solution oriented.
Conversational models can help. These predefined structures for a coaching conversation take you step-by-step from an agenda toward solutions and actions, while hitting all the key steps in between. Mastering one or two of these conversational structures can help you move yourself or your client forward in an effective, intentional way without the distraction of having to figure out your next step on the fly.
The G.R.O.W. Model
Coaches have developed many different models for different situations. One of the best known models is the GROW coaching model, a mnemonic which stands for Goal > Reality Check> Options> Will. In this model, you first set a goal to start the coaching conversation. Then you identify an objective starting point for the change (the “reality check”), and generate a number of potential courses of action (“options”). In the “will” step, you and the coachee (or yourself if you are self-coaching) choose one or more options and convert them to committed actions. GROW works best for practical, performance-oriented issues like increasing job performance, becoming organized, or starting an exercise program.
The Coaching Funnel model is a visual image describing a coaching conversation. In this model, the conversation starts with a focus on refining the parameters of a goal, get tighter as the situation and options for addressing it are explored, and then narrows more to specific steps of action. The Coaching Funnel puts more emphasis on exploration than models like the GROW model, so it works well for self-discovery issues, decision-making or processing what’s going on in one’s life.
Conversational models are also perfect for coaching encounters — which are short, one-time coaching interactions. Because they make conversations more efficient and move intentionally toward action, these models can work well within time constraints. And because conversational models use an easily explained step-by-step process, they are a great way to coaching methodologies to individuals who are unfamiliar with coaching. In this same regard, they are a great place for new coaches to start to ensure they are properly moving the coachees forward.
If you know of any other conversational models to recommend, please include them in the comments below.