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Cultivating Growth: Using the GROW Model for Effective Feedback

Giving feedback can be tricky. You want to deliver your message constructively without demotivating the receiver. That's where the GROW model comes in. This simple yet powerful framework helps guide feedback conversations towards positive change and development. Let's explore how GROW can transform feedback, using the example of an employee who frequently uses technology during meetings.

The GROW Model:

  • G: Goal - Start by understanding the desired outcome. What should the employee strive for regarding their participation in meetings? This could be actively listening, contributing ideas, or demonstrating engagement.

  • R: Reality - Discuss the current reality. How does the employee's tech use impact their meeting presence and contribution? Be specific and objective, avoiding accusatory language.

  • O: Options (or Obstacles) - Brainstorm together. Explore reasons behind the behavior (e.g., multitasking, boredom, feeling unprepared). Discuss alternative ways to manage distractions and engage effectively.

  • W: Will (or Way Forward) - Create a concrete action plan. Agree on specific steps the employee will take to improve their meeting participation. This could involve setting personal reminders, taking notes digitally, or preparing talking points beforehand.

Applying GROW to the Technology User:

Goal: The goal is to have the employee participate actively and meaningfully in meetings, contributing their ideas and perspectives.

Reality: Describe how the employee's tech use is hindering their participation. Mention observed behaviors, their impact on the meeting dynamics, and the employee's perception of their contributions.


  • Explore the "why" behind the tech use: Is it boredom, multitasking, or feeling unprepared? Discuss alternative strategies like note-taking apps or setting personal reminders to stay focused.

  • Suggest alternative ways to engage: Encourage the employee to actively listen, ask questions, and share relevant ideas or experiences.

  • Offer resources: Share tips on effective meeting participation or invite them to shadow a colleague known for their engagement.


  • Agree on specific actions: These could be not using a phone while in meetings, setting phone notifications on silent, shifting to taking paper notes, or making more time before meetings to prepare based on the agenda provided.

  • Set a review date: Schedule a follow-up discussion to assess progress and provide further support if needed.


  • Focus on the future, not the past: Emphasize growth and development, not blame or criticism.

  • Ask open-ended questions: Encourage the employee to reflect and find solutions collaboratively.

  • Celebrate progress: Acknowledge and reinforce even small improvements in their meeting participation.

Using the GROW model, you can transform feedback from a judgmental exercise into a collaborative journey towards positive change. This empowers the employee to take ownership of their development and ultimately contribute more effectively, fostering a growth mindset within your team.

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