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5 coaching frameworks to develop your team

June 3, 2022 - 15 min read


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What is a coaching framework?

Key elements of a helpful coaching framework

5 common coaching models

Building a culture of coaching

Whether you’re leading a team or just working on one, helping others grow is part of the job. The team has goals and outcomes it needs to achieve. But so do the team members. 

As a people manager or team leader, you may need to get creative to get the team from point A to point B. Often, that means asking individual team members to work in new ways. You need them performing at their best but also behaving in ways that serve the team’s objectives. Sometimes it’s hard or uncomfortable. 

This type of day-to-day change is supported by coaching and feedback.

That’s often where companies bring in professional coaches, as they’re well-trained in the various methodologies that drive successful behavior change. But these days, the changes and uncertainty never end. 

To be agile and support individuals through constant change, many companies have also recognized the need to develop a culture of coaching across the organization. What does that mean? Managers who can coach others.

Even if you’re not a professional coach, you can make use of coaching strategies to guide your team’s growth. Understanding how coaching frameworks work — and how to match the right framework to the right goals — can help you create an action plan that works for your team.

What is a coaching framework?

Coaching frameworks are also known as coaching models. Many methodologies have devised their own frameworks based on the type of coaching offered and what the person or organization wants to achieve.

Coaching sessions are different than ordinary conversations. They need to be targeted around understanding the current situation and identifying ways to move forward. A coaching framework helps to orient the conversation and keep participants in “problem-solving mode.”

Key elements of a helpful coaching framework

There are several different coaching approaches to choose from. Inherently, none are better than any other. However, most managers aren’t trying to fill the role of a professional coach and will likely have a narrower scope and a specific agenda with their report/coachee. As a manager, you may need to try out different coaching frameworks to see which fits best with you, the individual, and the circumstances.  

Any coaching process has to be evaluated by the following criteria:

1. Relevance

I’m a firm believer that everyone can benefit from coaching. However, the type of coaching offered needs to be tailored to the needs of the client or group. For example, if you’re working with a leadership team, they’ll likely benefit more from executive coaching than sales coaching.

Relevance has to do with more than just the topic of the coaching. The coaching style or framework applied also has a be a good fit. For example, you might take a different approach if you want your team to learn new skills as opposed to increasing sales performance. The goal should inform the strategy you take.

2. Implementation

The second area to consider is whether the implementation of the coaching process will work well with your corporate training strategy. Some coaching programs work better with a group; others are designed for one-on-one facilitation. If your workforce is mostly remote, you’ll need a program that can be effectively delivered asynchronously or virtually.

When you evaluate a program, determine if the logistics of implementing it will work for your intended goals. That includes the cost. Any talent development program is an investment. Think about whether the program you’re considering will provide the kind of ROI that you want to see. 

Coaching tends to be an especially savvy investment, but you need to know what you want to accomplish in order to calculate ROI. BetterUp’s People Analytics Dashboard provides a way to measure growth across several key coaching areas.


3. Time

How much time do you have to implement training? Will your program be ongoing, an intensive six-week course, or happen in just one day? Are you teaching skills that can be quickly mastered, or will they have to be integrated alongside your team member’s day-to-day work?

Ideally, your team will have a culture of growth that allows for multiple personal and professional development opportunities throughout the year. That means you can utilize different coaching models to teach different competencies.

4. Results

One of the differences between coaching and other modalities is the focus on accountability, action, and results. A significant part of a coaching framework is dedicated to goal-setting. In fact, many coaching methods can be judged on how well they help coachees achieve their goals. 

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Without maximizing that potential — whether in mindset or behavior — the coaching framework can’t be considered successful.


5 common coaching models

There are probably as many coaching frameworks as there are coaches. Each coach tends to have their own methods, models, and coaching tools. Many organizations will tend to choose one model to align everybody’s language and common understanding. However, many of these models overlap in significant ways. 

Here are five of the most popular coaching models used today:

The GROW coaching model

Developed by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore, the GROW model became widely known after it was published in Coaching for Performance. Used since the 1980s, the GROW model helps to structure individual coaching conversations. The coach asks questions to help the client clarify their goals and commit to a course of action.

The acronym GROW stands for:

Goal setting: What are the short- and long-term goals? These should be SMART goals.

Reality: What does the current situation look like, and what needs to change?

Options: What options do I have for change, and what are the pros and cons? 

Will: What action will I take, and when will I do it?

The OSKAR coaching model

The OSKAR coaching framework is explained in detail in Mark McKergow’s and Paul Jackson’s The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE. It’s similar to other four-step models, but incorporates a final step for reflection and reassessment. This can be especially useful if the coachee is feeling stuck or discouraged about previous methods that didn’t work.

The acronym OSKAR stands for:

Outcome or objective: What do you want to achieve, either in your current situation or in the coaching conversation?

Scale: On a scale of one to ten, how close are you currently to achieving your goal?

Know-how/Choices: What skills do you need to develop or actions do you need to take to get to 10? What choices do you need to make?

Affirm & Action: What is already working well (affirm)? Which actions do I need to take, and when will I do them?

Review: How successful have we been so far? Do we need to adjust our strategy or tactics moving forward?

The FUEL coaching model

In many ways, the FUEL coaching model is pretty similar to the GROW model. However, it’s well suited to tackle not just concrete goals, but to coach skill development and performance. The framework is outlined in the book The Extraordinary Coach, by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett. Instead of telling the participant what to do, the coach asks open-ended questions to help guide coachees to the best solution.

The acronym FUEL stands for:

Frame the conversation: Set goals and a desired outcome for the coaching conversation.  

Understand the current state: Ask coaching questions to help develop awareness and insight into the current situation.

Explore the desired state: Discuss what success would look like. How many different ways are available to achieve the end result? 

Lay out a plan for success: Create a step-by-step plan to reach the desired result, including deadlines and a system for accountability.


The CLEAR coaching model

Clear coaching was developed by Peter Hawkings in the 80’s. See more here. This framework is simple and you can see traces of it in many of the others listed here. It would be easy to adapt and build off of for your own style. 

The acronym CLEAR stands for:

Contracting: Set an agreement for the intended goals and outcomes of the day’s coaching session.

Listening: Listen to the coachee/participant, only occasionally reminding or nudging them towards the original contracted goal.

Exploring: Explore the situation in more detail, asking questions for clarity and insight.

Action: Choose which new actions the participant will commit to to achieve their goal.

Review: In future sessions, review their progress. Discuss what works well for them in the session as well as completing their goals. 

The 7 steps of effective coaching

Outlined in detail in a book by Fiona Eldridge, Sabine Dembkowski, and Ian Hunter, this coaching framework builds on the GROW model. It adds seven core competencies and a 7 step method for executive and leadership coaching. This model, published in the The 7 Steps of Effective Executive Coaching, is also referred to as the ACHIEVE framework. 

The acronym ACHIEVE stands for:

Assess: Determine which obstacles, deficits, or behaviors are holding the coachee back.

Creative brainstorming: Spur creative thinking by putting out as many ideas as possible in a quick brainstorming session. 

Hone in: Narrow down the area of focus and prioritize the client’s goal list.

Initiate options: Choose which plans, actions, and behaviors are most aligned with the desired outcome.

Evaluate options: After listing all viable options, choose the best course of action to achieve the goal.

Valid action plan: Map out the details of the plan, including deadlines and specific action steps.

Encourage momentum: Provide both accountability and acknowledgement. Keep the participant focused on the larger goal while celebrating the progress made. Determine if you need to re-evaluate any steps along the way.

Building a culture of coaching

Your team leaders and managers don’t have to become professional coaches to bring the benefits of coaching to the team. A manager with coaching skills can help their team members grow — individually and collectively. 

These frameworks can help them help their teams learn new ways of working that fit the changing needs and objectives of a new world of work. It isn’t one-and-done, but a continuous process of adapting and changing to deliver the outcomes that matter most. 

As managers learn to navigate leading remote teams, prioritizing manager development is one of the best investments a company can make. Teaching your leaders how to utilize these coaching frameworks empowers them to, in turn, help their employees grow.

Your leaders are the secret weapon to build a culture of coaching on every team and among every level in the organization. But it takes more than just having the right framework. It requires comfort with feedback (both giving and receiving), trust, and psychological safety. And it’s not easy. It requires courage, too. 

Partnering with BetterUp can help provide support to managers, team members, and organizations. If you need help understanding and implementing coaching frameworks, reach out and schedule a demo with BetterUp today.

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Published June 3, 2022

Allaya Cooks-Campbell

BetterUp Staff Writer

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