Giving feedback with GROW

Giving feedback is not as easy as it seems. If you are a leader or if you work within a team it is important for you to give feedback that will yield an expected result rather than would be taken as an offense.
It is good to remember that feedback either positive or negative may be taken us:
• Undeserved
• Of no use to us
• Of great value to us

When feedback would have the greatest power?

Feedback has the greatest value when it’s invited because the recipient is ready and open to receive one. That minimizes the risk, that the feedback would be taken as undeserved and would bring no value.
And the most powerful is the feedback not given by someone else, but the one discovered by the team member themselves.

GROW is a model often used in coaching to help structure coaching sessions. But it can be used as a framework for giving feedback. Or rather coaching other person and creating an opportunity for them to come up themselves with the feedback, that you intended to give. Your role as a feedback coach in this model is not to instruct or share your observations. By asking questions you should help your team member to look at the situation from a different angle and understand the consequences in a broader context, consider other options and find out the solution for whatever their goal is.

GROW is an acronym created from:
• Goal -> What do you want
• Reality -> What is happening right now
• Options -> What could you do
• Will -> What will you do


To create an opportunity for a team member to give themselves feedback first, we should set up the scene for them and asks Goal focused questions like:
• What would you like to achieve or understand 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 the session and referred to again from time to time to keep the focus moving forward.


The reality part of the session is about an exploration of the team member’s reality in the current state. Asked questions should help to clarify their insight on their actual situation. It provides an opportunity for viewing issues from different perspectives.
During this part of the session you may ask questions like:
• Could you describe the situation?
• How does it look like from your perspective?
• How would you see it if you would be on the other side of a conflict?
• How important is this to you?
• How do you feel?
• What did you notice about your behavior?
• What do you think about what you’ve just done?
• If you would be on the other side of a conflict what would you think about what you’ve just done?
Reality questions help to gain some new perspectives and clarify insight on the situation. They help to cool down the emotions and to concentrate on what has really happened.


After an employee reaches a new insight you may ask feedback questions like:
• What do you know now, that you did not know before?
• How do you feel about what you’ve discovered till now?
• What have you learned about yourself?
• If a similar situation would happen to you again how would you like to react?


In this part, you may refer to the 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? Did you find your answerers already?
• What would they be?
• What questions we have left without the 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? 

On a scale of 1–10, how committed are you to taking these agreed actions?

After this part of the session, you should reach the point where you achieved your goal which was to make your team member give themselves feedback. But don’t stop on that part, as the session is not for you. The last part WILL is very important, it helps another person to come up with the decisions about future, which may help them to achieve success next time. In that part a team member commits themselves to what they have influence to do and what can they really change.
Some 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?
• Could you do more?
• What could you do to become more committed?
• When will you do it?
• What must happen for you, to be sure that you’ve reached your goal? Who can help you and how?

Feedback should be given often and in small, easy-to-digest bites. Preferably soon after the situation happened but not right after when you still feel an emotional grip. In the perfect world, the receiver seeks feedback themselves, is ready to receive one, keeps an open mind, and takes your words with grattitude.

Sadly feedback sessions rarely happen this way. Usually, both sides are feeling stressed and the situation that needs to be discussed is still life and impacts the emotions.
The most natural path of the conversation would be to ask first about “what has happened” and allow the other person to clear their emotions first. After this part, you would gain insight into the situation from your team member point of view and on their emotions. When emotions are cooled down a bit, it is easier to concentrate on the session and on setting up a Goal or considering the other side of the conflict. The Reality and Options parts of the session may be used in a different order or mixed up together as it is easier to consider one aspect after another as a whole than to list everything first and then analyze. 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 employee come up with the feedback you intend to give but don’t stop on this. Do also Will part of the model which would help your employee to commits to what they will do to succeed in the future.