Check Top 10 Coaching Frameworks & Choose The Right One

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Article by Nelli Gevorgyan

Content writer

Published 28 Mar 2023
18 min read
Check Top 10 Coaching Frameworks & Choose The Right One

One way of making the whole coaching process more consistent is for the coach to have a plan or a roadmap. You do not want to pause and think what questions you are going to ask next, do you? It would not also be a good option trying to figure out what the key issues are on the spot. 

To avoid such issues and keep coaching conversations structured you will need to use particular coaching frameworks. 

Let’s see how you can facilitate the progress by reviewing some unique coaching approaches & models.

 

A professional coach must be familiar with various coaching models and choose the one that best works for a specific client or group. Why? The reason is it contributes to the better structure of coaching conversations, therefore, sessions. Models also help to maintain the focus of the session, making it more efficient.

 

5 key components of a useful coaching framework

No coaching program or session can be successful if you do not implement into practice the Top 5 key components.

Those components are general components used in every framework/coaching method, so let’s look at them.

Coach-Client Relationship

The client-coach relationship is one of the most significant factors for a coaching program’s success.

It is vital that the client trusts the coach. When the trust factor is established and developed well, the coaching program will help the client to get the desired results faster and more effectively. 

To improve the relationships with the client, you should do the following.

  • Share your experience with the client
  • Show your coachee that you believe in them
  • Acknowledge the progress they have made and encourage them

Identification of various obstacles & correct Goal-setting

The clients come to the coach with a desire to transform certain aspects of life, and any transformation should start inward. Therefore, it is vital to identify both internal and external factors that stand in the way of the client. 

After the dilemmas are identified, there is a need to find out what the client expects from the session. This way you can guide them toward the formulation of goals.

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One of the most popular and effective goal-setting techniques is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific). 

Problem-solving

Another key factor for successful coaching is problem-solving. You need to be able to work with your client and develop their problem-solving abilities closely.

After identifying the obstacles that stand in the client’s way, develop coaching conversations that guide the clients toward finding the solutions. Assist them in the creation of the plan or so-called roadmap.

The process of the shift

Identify specific qualities or aspects your client needs to work on which will contribute to the transformation. As a coach, you should help them fulfill their potential.

Plus, as a third-person, in a sense, you are able to notice the obvious things clients may miss out on, so you have the power to guide them towards the true transformation of themselves and, accordingly, their life.

Measurement of the Outcome & Results

If you want your coaching program to be successful and efficient, then you should be able to measure clients' progress and push them forward.

First of all, try to understand what your client understands under success and what their goals are to be able to measure their progress.

Coaching framework keypoints

10 Most common coaching frameworks

Now, I believe that it is finally time to review all the primary and most popular coaching frameworks. So, let’s start!

The Grow coaching model

The first and most widely used framework is the GROW coaching model. As the name makes it obvious, GROW is about the growth of an individual. The growth starts internally and leads to growth externally.

The model clarifies everything for the coach and the coachee, helping them to develop a successful plan for goal achievement. It is also implementing the concept of “learning through experience” and getting from “aspirations & dreams to action & results.”

GROW stands for - Goal, Reality, Options, and Will.

Goals

So the first step is to get clear on the goals. Through coaching conversations, identify your client’s main goals & desired results. Formulate them by implementing the SMART technique.

Reality

The next step is to understand the client’s current reality and help them understand and accept it. Some questions that may help to identify current reality are:

  • What is going on in our life now? Where are you?
  • What steps have you taken toward your goals?
  • Do you have goals that are in conflict with others?

Maybe the client wants a position requiring a constant presence in the company. Meanwhile, another goal is flexible working hours and mostly working from home. Then there is a need to eliminate the conflict, adjust the goal or learn to prioritize.

Options

With step 3, you need to identify obstacles and options the client currently has or can create. There are specific questions the coach can ask to help the client see all the options & bigger picture.

  • What are your options? What else can you do in X situation, in Y case?
  • What are the pros and cons of each option?
  • What is the most beneficial option for you?
  • What are the quandaries that stand in your way?

Will

The final step if you implement this model is - Will. After clarifying the obstacles and options, the roadmap toward goal achievement becomes much clearer. Now, it is time to find the willingness to go and get it.

As a coach, you must be supportive and understanding and be able to motivate your clients to move forward.

Questioning is the most important skill you must have to implement this model successfully. Generally, asking the right questions is vital for efficient coaching.

Best for 

Due to its flexible components, the GROW model can be applied to different types of coaching. It can be easily adjusted to your situation. This model is especially best for performance, life, and executive coaching.     
 

If you are looking to develop a practical plan for achieving goals, the GROW model is for you.

Grow coaching model steps

The Clear coaching model

Another quite popular coaching framework is called CLEAR. It is widely used by business coaches & executive coaches, and the process is designed for transformation.

The main stages include - Contract, Listen, Explore, Action & Review.

This method is perfect for constructing well-structured coaching sessions.

Contract

The first step is understanding what you and your coachee expect throughout the session. The contract is about identifying aspects you will work on throughout a particular session.

It should be completed within every session.

Listen

Each coaching session’s vital element in any coaching model is the ability to listen to your client. Because only through listening can you see all the details and construct piece by piece the bigger picture so that you will be able to guide clients better.

One Pro tip is to take notes about what the client is saying.

Explore

The exploration stage is as vital as any other part of coaching. You need to explore the client and then help them explore their current reality, options, and obstacles to come up with solutions that will push them forward.

This stage can be successful if the coach knows what questions to ask. So, work on your questioning skills.

Action

At this stage of coaching, you should ask your clients a specific set of questions. However, make sure that these are not questions that push clients to take a direction you think is right. As a coach, you must ensure the clients come to that independently.

You can ask questions that will trigger their thinking processes both on conscious and unconscious levels.

Questions such as:

  • How can you start the process?
  • When are you planning to start?

Review

The last step that this model includes is - Review. During the review, you, as a coach, should reflect on every stage completed, particularly the contract. Basically, reflect whether or not the objectives established within the first stage of the session were met or not.

This coaching framework is truly one of the best models leaders & executives can use. Plus, if a business hires you as a team coach, this is one of the best ways to go.

Best for 

The CLEAR model mostly applies to leadership coaching, executive coaching, career coaching, and business coaching. 

It works best for clients who seek to make significant changes in their personal and professional lives. 

This model emphasizes the importance of building a strong coaching relationship. So, it is beneficial to clients who value a collaborative coaching environment. 

Clear coaching model steps

The Stepppa coaching model

The next coaching model that can be quite useful for you to know is - Steppa. This model’s focus is on emotions and how to make use of those. The model was originally developed by Dr. Angus McLeod.

If your client faces more emotional quandaries, this is one of the best models to use while working with them.

STEPPPA stands for - Subject, Target Identification, Emotion, Perception, Plan, Pace, Action.

Now, let’s take a more detailed look at each.

Subject

At the beginning of the training program, you should identify the aspects that need to be worked on, improved, or completely transformed.

The subject identification may not be very clear at first and can take quite a lot of time, but it is vital to know what each session is going to be about to construct an individual development plan.

Target Identification

After the subject is clear, it is time to identify the target. Basically, get clear on the client’s desired result to be able to get clear on further actions.

Emotion

The next step is identifying, accepting, and transforming emotions, as they are powerful motivators or destructive elements.

As much as emotion can motivate and push one forward the same way, it can keep a person stuck in the same place.

At this stage, you can ask questions to understand whether or not the client has emotional connections to the goal. If not, create ones so that they are motivated to move forward. Examples of questions include:

  • What will you feel when you achieve your goal?
  • How motivated are you?
  • What feelings & emotions will the process bring/awaken in you?

Perception

In order to succeed, both the coach and the coachee should be well aware of everything so that their perception evolves and they are able to see the bigger picture more clearly.

Plan & Pace

Let’s say you are clear on the emotional front, targets, and everything else; now it is time to make a plan on how and at what pace you are going to move forward.

Action

Like all the previous models, this one also involves action because the action is something that will bring the actual results.

Also, at the end of a coaching session, do not forget to review what was learned and how it can be implemented practically from the client’s perspective.

Best for  

The STEPPA coaching framework can be effectively employed by coaches across various fields, including business, sports, teaching, and executive coaching. This approach can work with clients who want to gain awareness of their situation, thought patterns, and emotional responses.

Steppa coaching model steps

The Oscar coaching model

OSCAR coaching model is proven to be efficient and working. It simply stands for - Outcome, Situation, Choices, Actions, and Review.

This model is perfect for structuring coaching conversations. At the very beginning, it is vital to identify the Outcome of the session. Then, move on to the next stages.

Throughout the Situation stage of the conversation, you need to understand what is clients’ current situation and where they want to be. So this basically clears things up in terms of showing the current situation and paralleling the desired outcome so that coachee has a better understanding of the gap and a clearer roadmap.

The Choices stage as options is basically all about considering what options coachees currently have to take action toward their goals.

The Action stage is all about motivation; basically, as a coach, you guide them toward identifying goals, situations, and options; now, it is the time to push them to go and get their desired results.

Finally, the Review stage summarizes the whole session and understands where you went and whether or not it was productive.

OSCAR coaching model steps

The AOR coaching model

Another coaching model that is a must-know for a professional coach is AOR. The AOR method is perfect for sales coaching. It stands for Activities, Objectives, and Results.

It provides an overall understanding of how current activities correlate with objectives and connects to the final outcomes/results.

Let’s take a look at more details look at the stages:

  • Activities - a stage quite vital because those are things that an individual can control & have a clear impact on the results.
  • Objectives - when working with teams, it is vital to ensure that they have common objectives and are united to achieve that because an individual's activities should be built around the achievement of a business objective, e.g., make X amount of sales in Y month.
  • The “Results” stage is basically about outcomes & measurement of those.

Best for 

AOR coaching model is best for encouraging clients to learn from their experiences and take a particular action. If you are working toward developing a particular skill, this framework can be for you. It is especially best for sales coaching, performance coaching, and transformational coaching. 

Coaching features

The FUEL coaching model

The FUEL coaching model is designed to achieve behavioral changes to bring the desired results. It is highly conversational and aims for long-term behavioral patterns changes.

Let’s take a look at the main elements of the FUEL coaching model:

  • Frame the Conversation - the focus should be on creating a safe atmosphere where the client and the coach feel comfortable. Then during this stage, the purpose of the conversation should be clarified. It is, in a sense, establishing an agreement/contract, as in CLEAR coaching.
  • Understand the current Truth - basically understand underlying factors that may not be obvious but the impact and drive certain behavioral patterns. Also, challenge certain statements & beliefs.
  • Explore the Desired State - find out what the coachee wants, what habits they would like to implement, what their desired state is
  • Layout a Successful Plan - after discussing every point, it is vital to develop a plan that will help achieve the desired state.

As in any other coaching model, during FUEL coaching, it is vital to provide thorough feedback on performance & progress and motivate & guide the coachee thoroughly.

Best for

The FUEL approach can be effective in various coaching scenarios. They include business coaching, executive coaching, and success coaching. It can be good for clients who want to explore various strategies for achieving their goals and find possible ways to improve.

FUEL coaching model steps

The WOOP coaching model

The WOOP coaching model is based on powerful motivation techniques implemented on the client to push them forward.

WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan.

Throughout the Wish stage of the conversation, the ultimate wish or wishes, more precisely, goals & objectives, are established. It is vital to guide the clients toward understanding what they truly desire, eliminating the impact that others may have had on the current desires of the client.

Then, when the client is clear on what they want, and they are sure that it will make them happy, it is time to move on to the next stage, the Outcome. This stage will also help to motivate the client moving forward. 

Various visualization techniques may be implemented throughout the Outcome stage so that the client better visualizes the final results. It becomes a powerful motivator when they are vibrating in the state where they have what they want.

The next stage is Obstacle, which is, as the name suggests, about identifying obstacles and challenges that stand in the way. This stage requires lots of effort as some obstacles may not be very easy to identify. They might be subconscious blocks that stand in the coachee’s way.

The final stage is the Plan, meaning that it is time to develop an optimal plan full of short & long-term solutions for achieving the goal.

Best for 

The WOOP coaching model will work best with clients struggling to achieve their goals. They may feel stuck and unsure about moving forward. This model is widely used by intuitive, relationship, career, and life coaches. 

WOOP coaching model steps

Solution-focused coaching model

As the name suggests, the solution-focused coaching model is an extremely result-oriented  coaching process.

Simply put, according to O'Connell and Palmeris is defined as “an outcome-orientated, competence-based approach.”

Its main points are implementing goal-oriented strategies, identifying and finding solutions to obstacles, and activating resources, meaning making full use of resources.

The strategies that are being utilized while using this method of coaching are mostly future-focused. It also encourages small steps as they contribute to the overall bigger picture. It, in a sense, skips the part of endless identification of problems and internal blocks, going to the finding of optimal solutions that can be implemented immediately.

Best for 

Solution-Focused coaching is often used in executive, career, life, communication, and team coaching. It can be applied to a wide range of issues. Such issues include goal-setting, time management, communication skills, relationship-building, and stress management.

Solution-focused coaching model steps

Student-centered coaching model

It is an evidence-based coaching model.

It is one of the sub-categories of Instructor-led coaching. As the name suggests, the main focus group is students, and it aims to increase their efficiency and better performance.

The core practices included throughout are:

  • Utilization of coaching cycles
  • Standard-based goal setting
  • Learning-related goals
  • Planning with the student
  • Co-teaching that should use instructional practices
  • Measurement of the impact on student & progress 

Best for 

The student-centered coaching model is applicable to clients who may be struggling academically or have special learning needs. This model is for coaches who serve as a facilitator or a guide for students rather than an expert.

Student-centered coaching model steps

Instructional coaching model

Instructional coaching is aimed at developing a level of expertise. Firstly as in most coaching frameworks, it is vital to identify the current state & the desired outcome along with the obstacles on the way. The main focus is performance improvement.

Throughout this coaching, rather than asking loads of open-ended questions, the instructor, as an expert, identifies aspects on which the coachee should be working to improve the performance.

Best for 

The instructional coaching framework is best for coaches who work with teachers as clients. This can be used to support the implementation of new curriculum standards, assessment strategies, and classroom management techniques. 

Instructional coaching model steps

How to choose the right model for your coaching program  

It would be helpful to know there is no necessity to choose one model and stick to it till the end. You can start with one of the above-mentioned models and change to another if it doesn’t work well for your situation. As you gain more experience, you adjust any of these models to meet your needs. You may use a combination of two frameworks to address your mutual goals with the client more efficiently. 

Let’s consider four factors based on which choosing a particular coaching model will become easier. 

  • Identify your goals. The choice of a suitable coaching approach mostly depends on your goals and objectives. For example, if you want to focus on the effect of emotions, the STEPPA model may support the goal. 
  • Consider your coaching philosophy. Take into account where your values and beliefs lie and the coaching styles you are comfortable working with. The choice of approach may also depend on whether you are a one-on-one coach or a group coach.    
  • Assess your client's needs. A coaching conversation implies cooperation between the coach and the client toward a mutual goal. This means you should consider not only your but also the coachees’ specific needs. 
  • Test and improve continuously. Analyze the existing coaching models and see whether your objectives align with the outcomes a particular framework offers. Now you are ready to make a choice, which can be altered as necessary.
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TL;DR
  ? Too Long; Didn't Read

A coaching framework is a set of principles and processes designed to guide coaches in their work with clients. Such models are implemented to make conversations efficient and keep the coaching session consistent.


Some of the most popular coaching frameworks include the GROW model, the CLEAR coaching model, and the FUEL model. Besides these, we will also present others, such as the student-centered model, instructional coaching model, solution-focused approach, WOOP, STEPPA, and AOR.


You should first identify your mutual coaching goals and philosophy to be able to choose the right coaching framework. Make sure the approach you choose also aligns with the client’s needs.