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Coaching Methodology: T-GROW for Effective Coaching

Mar 12, 2024 | Becoming a Coach FAQ

This blog is part of our coaching methodologies series, where we discuss different frameworks coaches use to help clients grow. Sometimes, clients or employees might ask about the method or framework you use so it’s important to be clear about your approach so people can trust you to guide them effectively. 

Our goal in this blog is to explain these frameworks in a simple way, making it easier for you to share with your clients.

What is a coaching methodology?

A coaching methodology is a systematic framework used by coaches to provide a structure to guide their clients to evoke awareness, and achieve their ideal goals. 

There are plenty of coaching methodologies out there. Even though they may vary in approach, technique and application, they all share a common goal in helping clients to achieve growth and support to see real impact. 

In our ICF coach certification programme, we teach our students to master a few of the coaching methodologies. One of which is called the T-GROW model  developed in the 1980s by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore. 

How to use the T-GROW model in coaching? 

T-GROW coaching MODEL

If you’re new to coaching, the T-GROW model is a good starting point to stay organised. It provides a structure for the coach, within which you can coach with freedom. This tool covers all the important competencies that coaches need to apply in order to pass their ICF accreditation. 

Our Level 1 (ACC) coach training also emphasises on coaching at the workplace and the T-GROW model is commonly used by managers and leaders who are beginners to coaching and helps them structure their conversations.  

At its core, the T-GROW coaching model is an acronym representing five key stages in the coaching process.

Topic – Stage 1 in coaching 

Coaching isn’t about us finding a solution for our clients. It’s about guiding our clients to find their own solution. But before we can do that, we need to start asking our clients what they want to explore. It’s an opportunity for them to think about where the conversation is heading and an easy way for you to kick off the discussion.

Questions you can ask: What would you like to focus on today? Or what is important to you at the moment? 


Goal-Setting – Stage 2 in coaching 

In coaching, the client is responsible for setting their own goals, whether it’s a short-term or long-term objective. 

It’s crucial to ensure clarity on what they hope to achieve from your coaching conversation. As a coach, understanding your client’s goals is so important and we really emphasis this in our ICF coach certification programme.  Sometimes, clients may come with vague topics, but without a clear goal, the conversation can become unfocused. A good coach takes time with the client to help them become clearer about what would be helpful for them. 

We teach our coaches on our ICF coach training to remain in this stage until they help their clients establish a clear goal.

Questions you can ask: What would you like to achieve from our conversation? What would progress look like for you? 


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Reality – Stage 3 in coaching 

In this stage, the coachee examines their current reality or situation. It involves an honest assessment of where they are in relation to their goal, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, obstacles. 

As coaches, it’s your job to get clients to share their feelings about the situation, what they’ve attempted so far and what’s stopping them. While it may be tempting to swiftly move towards action, it’s often during this reflection on the current reality that solutions emerge. 

Spend a good amount in this stage and allow your coachee to deeply consider their reality!

Questions you can ask: Can you describe what’s working and not? How do you feel about what’s done so far? 

This is also the stage where more advanced coaches can use other coaching methodologies to evoke awareness and dig deeper. We teach more about this in our Level 2 ICF coach certification programme

Options – Stage 4 in coaching 

Once the coachee has a clear understanding of their goal and current reality, the focus shifts to generating potential options or strategies to bridge the gap between the two. It’s also at this stage where you can invite the client to think about obstacles. 

The coach facilitates brainstorming and encourages creative thinking, helping the coachee explore different possibilities and alternatives. By no means should you be the one offering the solution! It’s through your questions that clients find the right solutions. 

Questions you can ask: What else could you do? What do you think you should do first?

Way Forward Stage 5 in coaching 

In the final stage, the coachee commits to a specific action plan or way forward. The coach provides support and accountability, ensuring that the coachee remains focused and motivated to follow through with their plan.

Questions you can ask: What are the first steps you can take? What would you explore in the next 24 hours?

To sum up.. 

The T-GROW model is a powerful framework for coaching that empowers individuals to set meaningful goals, gain clarity on their current reality, explore options and strategies, and commit to actionable steps for growth and development. 

But most importantly, it’s an easy structure that any beginner coaches can use to facilitate transformative conversations that inspire change. If you’re thinking about an ICF accreditation, the T-GROW model is one of the perfect models you can use to pass your accreditation examination for Level (ACC) Pathway. To learn more about how to become an ICF coach, click here

If you’re interested in specialising in any of the above, we train leaders to become great executive coaches and introduce frameworks and models they can use.  Find out more about our Level 1 and Level 2 ICF trainings.

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Jean Balfour ICF Accredited Professional Coach and Managing Director of Bailey Balfour

Jean Balfour

Founder & Programmes Director


About the Author

Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes. Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.

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