Coaching at Work road-tests the GROWCoach app
1) The tool
What is it?
There are a number of coaching apps on the market, including those which take users through the GROW model process, which was popularised by John Whitmore.
One of these is the GROWCoach app, available through the Positivity Institute, an organisation dedicated to the research and practice
of positive human functioning, based in Sydney, Australia.
How does it work?
The GROWCoach app is a tool that supports people using the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward) process during one-to-one coaching sessions, peer coaching, group discussions or team meetings.
For each stage, there is a simple description of the stage, some key objectives for this stage and some related questions that the app user can pose to the other person/people.
With the Goal stage, for example, it’s described as being about “finding out what the client wants to achieve”.
It points out that this can be a confusing stage for some novice coaches, and suggests that ideally the person being coached will have already formulated a SMART goal.
For more information, email:firstname.lastname@example.org
2) The coach/ administrator
I undertook my coach training several years ago and I have coached mainly fellow teachers and school staff, often on an ad-hoc basis.
I was excited at the thought of an app as I do not coach on a regular basis and I like to look back through training manuals and coaching books to re-acquaint myself with the GROW process before undertaking any coaching. I liked the idea of having easy, digital access.
I was not sure at first how a coaching app would work and, after using it in several trial sessions, I still have not fully decided how I would best use this or similar apps. In the coaching session I undertook for this article I decided to be explicit and have an iPad on the table and to use the app as my primary framework for the session.
I familiarised myself with the key objectives outlined in the app for each stage (this was a great help for a ‘part-time’ coach) and then coached – on the whole – by going through the questions in order.
The client, Anne, already had an idea of what she wanted to focus on, and asking her some of the GOAL questions helped to pin this down further. But the session really started to flow when we got to the Option section, which for me was the strongest.
I found the questions particularly helpful, and I ended up asking Anne lots of them. They provoked enthusiasm and some clearly important self-reflection from her.
The session ended well, with some heartfelt commitment on her part.
The app provided good support for me in the session. I certainly have the feeling that with further use I would be able to leverage even more functionality from the app and that it would be become increasingly useful.
I feel sure that I will be glad that it is there on my phone, ready to be used as a reference before future coaching sessions. I would not choose to have the app open during future sessions though, as, for my part, this made some of the interactions a bit wooden.
I feel that the app works well as a support for a trained coach who coaches on an infrequent basis, but it would not be as useful for a non-coach or a very experienced, full-time coach. I hope the developers continue to develop the app with more suggested coaching questions, particularly in the Goals section (which I felt was the weakest).
I would appreciate the ability to add questions of my own to the question banks and to re-arrange and re-word the existing questions. I would also suggest the inclusion of an in-app note-taking option to increase the app’s functionality with time and allowing each user to customise it to their own requirements.
Raymond Freeman is a teacher and trained coach
3) The experience
I wasn’t totally clear what I wanted from our conversation when Ray started coaching me, only that I wanted to develop something I used to do elsewhere into a viable business locally, alongside the teaching I do at a large secondary school.
At first I felt a bit unsure about where we would get to. I wasn’t really sure how to set a clear goal, but it was helpful to think about it through some of the questions. And I still felt somewhat confused in the Reality part, I think because I’ve been feeling stuck for some time as I’m so busy with everything else.
To be honest, I thought it was the lack of time that was the main problem. I already knew there were some things I could do to get things rolling, but I just couldn’t seem to get started. Then at the end we moved to the Options part, and I felt much more motivated. I realised it wasn’t time that was the main problem really. I just needed to break things down into smaller steps.
I liked this stage the best. There were lots of good thought-provoking questions that Ray asked me from the app. And the Way forward stage helped me to really commit to what I was going to do to make things move on.
It felt a bit clunky as Ray was reading the questions out from his iPad, and I wasn’t sure the Goals stage worked brilliantly for me, but in the end it didn’t matter because the Options stage worked so well.
I have had coaching once before and thought it was brilliant. I just wasn’t sure what to expect from this app. However, it was surprisingly effective.
Anne Wright is a teacher
GROWCoach app: pros and cons
The ‘tool’ is highly portable
Because it’s so portable, it’s easy for users to prepare themselves quickly wherever they are
Not everybody understands SMART goals so administrators have to be prepared to explain how to set goals that will be achievable, and so on
The process can be clunky if the administrator/coach is reading the questions straight from the app, which can negatively impact