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10 Valuable Learned Lessons About Clients Leaving

While some coaching clients continue working with their coaches over the long haul, others will end their engagements for various reasons. Whether a client decides that coaching isn’t for them after all or they just needed a helping hand through a particular phase, every coach needs to be prepared to deal with clients leaving.
10 Valuable Learned Lessons About Clients Leaving

A coach can gain important and useful insights when a client decides it’s time to move on. Below, 10 members of Forbes Coaches Council share the most valuable lessons they have taken away from their experiences dealing with client departures.

1. Clients Are Meant To Leave

Coaching is most effective when directed toward a specific outcome. Coaching is intended to end once the client has reached that desired place. The most valuable lesson I learned is that clients are meant to leave. That means we did our job. They can, and often do, come back, but it’s because they reached that goal the first time, know the actual value of coaching, and use it as an effective relational tool. – Kathi Laughman, The Mackenzie Circle LLC

2. Self-Identity Is A Powerful Force

I learned the power of identities and how these operate differently for every client. For some, coaching can threaten an identity that they are not ready or willing to let go of—even if that identity is damaging and/or holding them back in certain areas. Regardless, that identity still serves a purpose for them and is often an important piece in their overall self-concept they are not open to changing. – Palena Neale, unabridged

3. It’s Not Always Time For Accountability

Not everyone is ready to change right now. Coaching is a time for self-reflection and action. When some people are in the midst of a challenge, they need to be supported by a therapist rather than held accountable by a coach. – Meredith Leigh Moore, Leverette Weekes

4. It Takes Two To Save A Coaching Engagement

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Have the courage to ask clients how they are experiencing the coaching and whether it’s going in the right direction. Too often, coaches try to figure out by themselves what might “rescue” a coaching engagement gone bad: “What can I do differently?” Instead, collaborate. Ask, “What can we do differently?” and bring the client into the conversation. – Nick Bolton, Animas Centre for Coaching

5. You Can’t Awaken Someone Who Isn’t Awake

You cannot wake somebody up who is not awake. Some clients want attention, not a solution. If a specific problem has become part of their identity, they might not be ready to leave it behind—yet. It is easy to take the departure personally; however, we sometimes never find out the real reason. Our responsibility is to do our utmost every single time. – Csaba Toth, ICQ Global

6. It’s About The Client, Not The Tools

It’s all about the client, not about tools and methods. Having a spectrum of professional tools and methods is helpful and necessary. However, they should not be the focus of attention. Important above all are the relationship, resonance, goal, solution and resource orientation, as well as the stimulation of reflection processes. To put it bluntly, it is the attitude that counts. – Cristian Hofmann, Empowering Executives | SUPERGROUP LTD

7. The Door Should Be Left Open For Them

Whatever the reason for the coaching client’s departure, whether it was on a positive or slightly negative note, always leave the door open for them to return. Timing and circumstance play big parts in the journey of a coaching client. They may peak and still need to return to you for additional coaching, or they may lose their way and require you again more than before. That is the beauty of the partnership. – Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory

8. Expectations Must Be Clear On Both Sides

Clearly setting the goals and expectations of both the coach and client in a coaching relationship is critical to having a successful mentorship. Otherwise, you could end up working in different directions and toward different goals, which can lead to frustrating results that do not match expectations. – Luke Feldmeier, Online Leadership Training – Career and Leadership Accelerator for Engineers

9. Client Relationships Have A Life Cycle

Most of our client relationships last about a decade. Usually, once we’ve stopped working with a client, it’s because we did our job—mission accomplished. Typically, our clients are acquired or the founders have had some type of liquidity event. I take great pride in that, even though the business relationship is ending. It’s hard, but it’s right. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

10. Some Clients Need Mentoring Instead

It can be easy for a client to confuse coaching with mentoring; and it can be tempting for a coach to venture into mentoring territory. However, it’s important that these two concepts are clearly separated. Coaching is about helping the client unlock their potential. And sometimes, what the client needs in a certain moment isn’t coaching, actually, but a mentor. – Josephine Kant, Google for Startups

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