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As a coach, you work really hard to impact people’s lives. You want every single one of your coaching clients to succeed. It means a lot to you – you wouldn’t be coaching if that weren’t the case.
The coaching relationship has to end sometime, though. I’m not saying that there won’t be certain coaching relationships that go on for years or even over the span of a lifetime. But those times are few and far between. Typically, the coaching relationship will end.
There are different ways to manage this. You might have an end point in mind when you first get started with the coaching. Maybe you’re running a one-month program or something like that. Or, maybe it’s up to the client to decide how long the coaching relationship will last – as long as they keep paying you, you’ll keep coaching them. But, there are some things to consider above and beyond that.
Sometimes, you will end the coaching relationship because it just isn’t working out. Maybe your personalities aren’t meshing well, they aren’t truly invested in the coaching, or you simply don’t have the time.
Other times, the coaching relationship will end just because it’s come to its natural conclusion. Maybe they have learned all they can learn from you. Or, maybe they are ready to move on to another coach to have another type of experience. That’s no slight on you – it’s only natural.
So keeping these different reasons for ending a coaching relationship in mind, let’s talk about each of them in turn.
Having an End Point in Mind for the Coaching
Having an endpoint in mind from the very start for your coaching can work well for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it’s typically good to have some sort of deadline. It lights a fire in people – including you.
When you have an endpoint in mind, then it’s easier to come up with goals that you can stick to. You’re going to work on this for the first week, another thing for the second week, yet another thing for the third week, and finally something else for the fourth week.
It’s just easier to have a structure and move forward when there is a deadline. Maybe you have more of a structured coaching program that you’re going to take people through. It makes sense to have an endpoint in mind in that case.
If you haven’t decided if you’re going to set a deadline or an endpoint for your coaching, you might consider doing so. Maybe you will coach a client for one month, 90 days, six months, a year, or whatever you decide.
Ending the Coaching Relationship Because of a Personality Clash
Maybe you’re going to end the coaching relationship because your personalities just aren’t meshing well. This does happen sometimes and it’s not necessarily the fault of you as the coach or as any fault of the client.
It could be that you just will never work well together. Or it could be that you are each at a point in your lives where you are not compatible. That’s okay. The relationship might work at some point in the future or it might not.
It could be that the client is going through something particularly difficult in their life and they just don’t have the patience or time for the coaching after all, at least not at the current time.
Or, they could be projecting something negative going on in their life toward you. As long as you know that you’re doing your job, don’t worry about it.
It’s okay to end the coaching relationship. You can either refund the client’s money or stop accepting payments from them, depending on the situation.
Know going in that not every relationship is going to work out and that is okay.
Ending the Coaching Relationship Because They Aren’t Doing Their Part
Sometimes, you will have really frustrating clients who say they are dedicated to the coaching, but won’t follow through with the assignments, show up to your meetings, or do anything at all, really.
This can be very frustrating. You really want to help these people succeed but they aren’t willing to do their part. What do you do?
After you’ve tried absolutely everything you can think of, it might be time to let them go. They just aren’t ready for your coaching at this point and that’s okay.
In the end, they are responsible for their own success. If you cut this client loose, then it will make room for someone who is truly dedicated and ready for your coaching. It can be sad to cut a client loose, but it is sometimes necessary.
Ending the Coaching Relationship Because You Don’t Have Time
This is probably one of the most troubling reasons to end a coaching relationship. You really do care about the people you’re coaching. You set out as a coach with great expectations and you were totally set on this business model working out.
But maybe your interests have changed. Or maybe you took on too many clients. Or maybe some of your clients are taking up most of your time.
Evaluate the situation. Is a certain client draining all your energy? Are they taking up all of your time but aren’t even your highest paying client?
It might be time to let them go. Of course you should really set expectations as far as how much of your time they can and should be using. But if they aren’t understanding of your time or you just don’t have time anymore, give enough notice and then you can cut the relationship short.
Remember that your reputation is on the line here. You don’t want to be unreliable and just end coaching relationships because you feel like it. Make sure you are treating this like a real business and that you have a good reason for ending the coaching relationship.
Ending the Coaching Relationship Because It Has Come to Its Natural Conclusion
Sometimes, you might need to end a coaching relationship because it’s come to its natural conclusion. This is often the happiest reason to end a coaching relationship.
It often means that your client has achieved some sort of goal that they had. They hired you for a reason and maybe you helped them fulfill that reason. Don’t you feel good about that?
There’s no reason to continue the coaching relationship if the client is no longer getting anything out of it. They might be ready for a higher-level coach or to get a perspective that is different from yours.
Maybe you can be the one who offers that higher level of coaching. Maybe you can offer all different levels of coaching for people to graduate to. But otherwise, know when it’s time to move on – and then smile and do so.
Ending the Coaching Relationship
The relationship with a coaching client is wonderful, but it usually has to come to an end. Think about these different scenarios as they apply to your current coaching clients or to your future coaching clients.
Do you want to set an end date or deadline for your coaching in the first place? This can really help for a variety of reasons.
Do you want to leave it open-ended? Then be prepared to evaluate the situations we’ve talked about.
Knowing when to end a coaching relationship can be just as important as knowing when to start one.