Goal setting within the workplace

Recently, I was running a 'Coaching and Mentoring in the Workplace' workshop where we explored the good old GROW model. GROW stands for:


This is what the mentee wants to achieve from the relationship. The goals may be organisational, such as being punctual, academic, behavioural or relationships.


The mentor explores where the mentee is at in relation to achieving their goal. They should explore what has happened in the past which could impact on progress.


The mentor identifies and assesses the options needed to achieve the goal.This could involve encouraging solution-focussed thinking and brainstorming.

Way Forward

The mentor pulls the ideas together to help the mentee conclude and develop an action plan to achieve the goal.

This model is a simple method for goal setting and problem solving.

Personally I love this workshop as it is very hands on, where we discuss the theory and then break off into small groups to practice the model.

The focus of this workshop was career goals, but once the group practice had started, I soon realised that I had two very different responses using the GROW model from the groups that had formed.

Three of the groups were clearly defining their career goals and enthusiastically moving between reality and options to create an optimal path to achieving the goal. The principles of the GROW model had really inspired them, which was a great thing to see.

However, the other group really struggled with the goal definition process, let alone the rest of the model. The group knew what mattered to them in terms of what their future roles would be like, but struggled to specify one particular target.

What is more important to you, the journey or the destination?

Trying to get to the bottom of their struggles, I asked them: "what is more important to you, the journey or the destination?" All three responded that it was the journey that mattered.

The GROW model is reliant on a clearly defined goal, however the delegates in this particular group were focused on value driven concepts such as work life balance and living authentically, which challenged the approach in this exercise.

Recently, I was lucky enough to refresh my NLP Master Practitioner with the amazing Robert Dilts, a master of his craft and someone who really helped me to stop and think about my approach to coaching.

Coaching for an intention rather than a specific goal


He introduced the concept of coaching for an intention rather than a specific goal and opening up possibilities in a coaching session without restricting it to a single outcome.

Intention coaching plants a seed and then both coach and coachee stand back to see what might grow.

Dilts argues that coaching to a goal is binary where there is a specifically defined path to success or failure. When we do this we may fail to open up the full range of possibilities for our coaches.

If their minds are full of the answer or the goal, will they miss out on new questions or opportunities?

On the other hand, if we coach them to an intention or desired state then we open up both our conscious and unconscious minds to a whole new range of possibilties.

Career coaching to a goal worked for three of the groups in that room, but for the fourth group, coaching to a desired state was the approach to take and that's what we ended up focusing on.

Knowing what motivates your coachee is vital

As a trainer and a coach, it is important to understand that not every delegate will have the same experience during an exercise or activity.

The key is to explore THEIR experience and what they took from it. As a coach, knowing what motivates your coachee is vital, great questions and active listening will help you both understand THEIR view of the world and set a path or goal from there.

The trainers and coaches I most admire and seek to emulate are always adding new approaches and perspectives to their toolkits. They work with the intention of being the best that they can be so they are able to bring out the best in people that they work with.

Here at Gradvert we call that the Love of Learning, which is a core value for all of us, and we're always looking to adapt how we learn, not only in a professional setting, but also in a personal setting.

Alison Burgess MCIPD, Trainer, Facilitator & Coach, Gradvert

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