Performance managing employees is often introduced in organisations across various industries and sectors. However, within the conveyancing sector, it is very common for managers to introduce performance management as a means to improve an employee’s overall output, and to ensure all staff are working together and achieving optimum results for the business.
But what if there was a solution toimproving the performance of your employees without having to introduce strict, pressurised measures, and instead could improve the experience and process for both the managers and employees?
Introducing the GROW coaching model
The GROW coaching model is a simple, structured coaching method to help your employee identify goals during each coaching session. The sessions last for 30 minutes and occur weekly. They involve the employee identifying obstacles to achieve goals, and brainstorming options to work through each obstacle. Finally, the employee is asked to commit to actions within their control that they will take away and deliver in the next seven days, reporting back to their manager during the next coaching session.
When we introduce the GROW coaching model to our clients, we recommend the following:
Focus on coaching, which is far more encouraging and productive, to avoid having to performance manage employees in order to improve
Managers should schedule 30 minutes per week for every direct report they have
Managers and each of their direct reports should prepare for the coaching meeting (more on the details of the GROW model below and how to prepare for meetings)
Managers should allow the employees to find solutions within their control and make the promise to implement the change in the next seven days, prior to the next meeting
What is the GROW coaching model?
In a nutshell, the GROW coaching model is a simple method for goal setting, problem solving and coaching employees towards self-improvement. The framework itself is simple; it can be used in any coaching setting, but is particularly effective in conveyancing companies. It allows conveyancers to reflect, identify issues, gain insight on how to solve problems, make impactful decisions and pursue consistent goals.
By asking a few simple yet powerful coaching questions, a manager can quickly raise awareness and responsibility in each area during weekly meetings:
GOAL: What do you want? What are your goals and aspirations? What are you looking to achieve?
REALITY: Where are you now? What is your current situation? What are your internal and external obstacles?
OPTION: What could you do? What strengths can you utilise? What skills and capabilities do you need?
WILL: What will you do? What actions will you take? How will you hold yourself accountable? What could you change that is in your control?
Having used the GROW model with a large number of conveyancing clients, we have learned that coaching is an extremely beneficial skill for managers in high-pressure work environments. Not only does it help employees to develop, it can also create long-lasting changes in behaviour, especially when coaching is combined with feedback and reinforcement.
When working with our conveyancing clients, we recommend managers to organise weekly coaching sessions for each of their direct reports, lasting just half an hour each. This gives enough time for a beneficial discussion to be had and goals to be set for the next seven days, without taking up an excessive amount of time for the managers and conveyancers.
How a manager should prepare for a GROW coaching session
In order to prepare for a GROW coaching session, the manager must make note of the following:
Review the employee's coaching worksheet from the previous meeting. Has everything they set out to achieve been completed? If not, why not? How can it be resolved?
Are there any obstacles that you can help them with? Check for challenges in four areas: (1) the person themselves, (2) other people or yourself (3) a lack of skills, knowledge or experience, and (4) the physical environment
Do their goals align with their overall career objectives?
Do their goals fit in with the team’s objectives?
Are their goals SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound?
When leading a coaching session, the manager allows the employee to do most of the talking – allow them to come up with as many ideas, suggestions and plans as they can on their own, whilst prompting them to get there. For example, if they have a particular goal but they’re unsure how to meet it, you can help them brainstorm ideas by asking guidance questions such as:
How often have you tried?
What could you do? Do you have any ideas or suggestions?
What if your obstacles were removed? How would that change things?
What are the pros and cons of each option?
How will you weigh up your options to decide on a solution?
What should you do, or stop doing, to achieve this goal?
If things are not going well with this issue, who else gets drawn in?
If things are not going well, what happens to you?
What about others involved, what happens to them?
What have you done about this so far? With what results?
What is missing in this situation?
What obstacles are currently standing in your way? How can this be changed?
As long as the manager has evidence that the employee is making progress each week and being proactive to overcome obstacles within their control, the GROW coaching sessions are being productive. Similarly, this can be said if the individual being coached feels that they are becoming more in-tune with their own self-improvement. They learn how to remove obstacles in the way of them achieving their goals.
With the number of working weeks averaging around 46 per year per employee, the weekly frequency enables at least 46 employee-driven improvements to occur. Individually each change is small, but when added together, 46 annual changes is a big step change in performance.
Example from our conveyancing GROW sessions
When using the GROW coaching model with our conveyancing clients, we have witnessed some incredibly successful and productive results.
Below is an example completed by a head of the conveyancing department, who is coaching a team manager.
What do you want to achieve?
I want to find 30 minutes per week in my schedule for 1:1 coaching with each of my case managers. With ten direct reports, I need to find five hours for the coaching sessions, along with ten minutes per case manager preparation time. The total time to find is close to 7 hours, i.e. a full working day.
How will you know when it is achieved?
My schedule will show that I have completed coaching sessions for each case manager, every week over a sustained 3-month period. I will provide evidence by way of the GROW model reports.
What’s happening now in terms of the goal?
I do not have time to coach case managers due to my own workload, the ad-hoc interruptions, escalations, technical queries and work approvals.
How far away are you from the goal?
I can probably find 30 minutes per day, but that means I still need to find another 4.5 hours.
What is standing in the way?
There are several obstacles standing in my way, such as:
Time taken to process complaints from clients, introducers and third parties
Communication time with underperforming case managers
Case managers not following one best way of working
Unnecessary system prompts, third party delays and internal communication issues
Staff absences at unexpected levels
Completing case work for case managers with a full caseload
A lack of skills and knowledge for those picking up the absentees’ work
What options do you have to resolve the obstacles?
The manager, through prompts and guidance questions from the head of conveyancing, came up with several resolutions including:
Pulling in resource with the right skill and knowledge to assist with the absentees’ caseloads and tasks
Working with three specific members of staff to improve their skills through retraining and coaching
Escalating time-sensitive tasks to other team managers who were able to support, in terms of time and resource, on an interim basis
Moving customer complaint investigation to the customer complaints team
Moving introducer reporting responsibilities to the MI team
Reducing ad-hoc enquiries from case managers, putting time in my schedule so that case managers attend when I am ready
Requesting support from the training function, to show case managers how to access training videos so they can learn and apply one best way of working
Asking IT to review and remove unnecessary system prompts
Understanding why case manager absences are higher than the expected levels
What option will you commit to in the next seven days?
From the above options, in the next seven days:
I will work with three specific members of staff to improve their skills through retraining and coaching
I will contact the Customer Complaints Manager to investigate complaints
I will move the introducer reporting responsibilities to the MI team
I will set time in my schedule for case managers to contact me when I am ready
I will request support from the training function to show case managers how to access training videos so they can learn and apply one best way of working
I will ask IT to review and remove unnecessary system prompts
Completing these actions in the next seven days will release five hours, so that I can schedule coaching sessions for my team.
The conveyancing example GROW model described above allowed the manager to find time so that she could coach case managers to improve performance. She moved from a high-pressure, autocratic leadership style, to one that enabled case managers to self-improve. Over the following three months, case manager morale and sickness levels improved. Overall, it was a win for the business, managers, customers and most importantly, employees.
Get in touch
If you would like more detail on how GROW coaching sessions work in the conveyancing sector, or further examples of how they have worked for Time Consulting Group’s Legal Services clients, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat with one of our partners.