Key Frameworks for Coaching Conversations

Recently, I’ve been exploring what holds managers back from use their coaching skills to guide and develop their people. Despite organizations investing a ton of money into coach training, there are many managers out there who just feel uncomfortable with coaching their employees. One of the major reasons for this is that some managers don’t have a clear framework for initiating coaching conversations. Here are two popular and effective coaching conversation models that are easy to follow and remember.

GROW Model

One of the original coaching frameworks is the GROW model, created by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and Sir John Whitmore:

GGoalThe Goal is where the coachee wants to be. It must be clearly defined so the coachee know when they’ve achieved it.
RRealityThe Current Reality is where the coachee is now. What are their issues and challenges? How far away is goal achievement?
OObstaclesWhat Obstacles are stopping the coachee from reaching the Goal?
OptionsOnce Obstacles are identified, the coachee looks for Options to deal with them and make progress.
WWay ForwardThe Options are converted into the Way Forward—action steps that map the way to reach the Goal.


FUEL Coaching Conversations

The GROW model is just one example of how to structure a coaching conversation. In the book, The Extraordinary Coach, Zenger and Stinnett suggest using the FUEL model:

  • F = Frame the Conversation. Set the context by agreeing on the discussion’s purpose, process, and desired outcomes.
  • U = Understand the Current State. Explore the current state from the coachee’s point of view. Expand the coachee’s awareness of the situation to determine the real coaching issue.
  • E = Explore the Desired State. Articulate your vision of success in this scenario. Explore multiple alternative paths before prioritizing methods of achieving this vision.
  • L = Lay Out a Success Plan. Identify the specific, time-bounded action steps to be taken to achieve the desired results. Determine milestones for follow-up and accountability.

If you’ve had training in coaching skills, what framework did you learn? If you had to choose between the GROW model or the FUEL model which would you choose and why? Do you think using one would help you initiate coaching conversations? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.